Friday, April 11, 2008

On Being Blessed

I knew this was going to be a difficult challenge, and it has. There are moments every day where I hate this damn challenge and wonder why on earth I ever thought this was a good idea. I never really thought of myself as a car person, and I actually hate to drive, but I can't deny that I miss the convenience and freedom that my car offers.

But then there are moments like the one that happened last night while I was waiting for the subway. I was feeling very sorry for myself because my legs were killing me, and I was tired, and cranky and all I wanted to do was go home and watch TV.

And then I sneezed, and the guy sitting next to me, turned to me and said, "Bless you," in this way that was so sincere, like it wasn't just a reflex, but he really truly wanted me to be blessed. It's hard to describe to you, but it was such an honestly touching moment, and it stayed with me through my ride and walk home.

And the truth is, I am blessed. Incredibly so. I have wonderful friends and family who are supportive of me and all my nutty endeavors. I live in a world-class city with culture, diversity, good food, and perfect weather. I have a job where I work with people who like and respect me. And I have this blog, and all of you wonderful readers and commenters and fellow bloggers.

When I took on the one year non-consumerist challenge, a few people accused me of becoming an ascetic. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have no desire to sit under a banyan tree and ignore my fellow man. Since August, I may have given up new stuff, but I have volunteered in my community, I have wandered museums, I have listened to some amazing local bands. I have seen great theatre, I have gotten lost in books, I have watched compelling television. I have eaten dinners with friends, and we have drunk too much wine. I have thrown parties, and attended weddings and a funeral. I have spent time outdoors, and drunk in the beauty that LA has to offer all day, every day, just outside my window. Does that look like the life of someone who is shunning worldly pleasures?

Sometimes people wonder, hell sometimes I wonder, why a year of non-consumerism? Why do I maintain this rigidity? Why am I agonizing over underwear, for God's sake. Underwear is a need! Eventually I'm going to buy some anyway, right? So what does it matter if I do it now in April, or if I do it in August?

But here's something I've learned. What I need is my family and my friends. A safe place to sleep at night. A few good books. Food. Art and music. Love. And laughter. Lots and lots of laughter.

That's a lot. In fact it is more than many people in the world have. And yet, these things, my needs, are things I have never done without for a single day in my life. And that is why I am so blessed. Everything else? Is just gravy.

Thank you all for the past six months of blogging goodness. This community that I have found here is one that I need. But the underwear? It can wait until August.

After all, as they say:


hgg said...

well spoken, I enjoy your blog more and more!

Joyce said...

Gratitude. Very uncommon these days.

Green Bean said...

Beautifully stated. It is so amazing what we think we need and then it turns out we didn't need it at all. All of here in the developed world have far far more than we need. Having family, a place to stay, food, that is it. I love that you have discovered (and shared with us) so many wonderful things in this world that don't involve *stuff*.

pink dogwood said...

Like someone said "best things in the world are free" - I really like how you write and admire what you are doing. I am only "not buying it" for a month and finding it hard. I bought three books from amazon and then canceled it the next hour. I want to try the whole year endeavor, but I would have to get my husband and two daughters to buy in first.

But I so want to send you a Victoria's secret gift card :)

Unknown said...

Well said, Saint Jagger. You are truly dedicated to changing habits for the better whether it's tough or not, which I admire greatly. It's been an honor to have you as a fellow blogger.

Oh!!! and PS that BSC blog: Claudias Corner is so hilarious I'm not only addicted I practically choked reading it during lunch I was laughing so hard!!

Unknown said...

The underwear comment got me laughing because when I went to pick up my 3-year old at her pre-school, her teacher informed me that she threw away her underwear because it has a nickel-sized hole on it. What? I did not know how to respond to that. Her teacher is a lovely and sweet young lady, who probably thought that holely underwear was borderline on child-abuse. Glad you don't have someone that watches over your underwear drawer...

Chile said...

Aw, that was so nice to read. You truly are blessed, and we are blessed that you are here.

EcoGeoFemme said...

Lovely post, Arduous.

Have you considered writing a book when your year is over? It could be based on your blog and organized around your monthly challenges. I'd buy it. :)

Mad Hatter said...

Hear, hear. What a great post!

Susannah said...

Hi Arduous,

Very nice post - we can never ever be reminded of our good fortune enough. I'm a brand new reader and I am really enjoying your blog.

Anonymous said...

That is one of the greatest charts I've ever seen (and I love charts).