Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rationing in the time of Plenty

Most folks know that during WWII there was rationing of certain household staples, like sugar. During the War, people understood the necessity to reduce, to reserve things for special uses, to plant a Victory Garden as a means of self-sufficiency, to do without because they had to and it was the right thing to do.

That certainly isn't the case anymore. Nobody of any means, or even those folks without means but with credit, does without. Candy isn't just on Halloween or holidays anymore, cakes aren't just for birthdays or celebrations, roast isn't just on Sundays. If you want it, you can get it, whenever you want.

So is this a good thing? On the one hand, people have access to comforts that make life more pleasant, more enriching, which arguably is a benefit. On the other hand, we don't respect the specialness of anything because we have it all the time. I realize that this train of thought leads into my previous thoughts on Patience, but it is more about observing the landscape within than the changes outside.

I've always been Instant-Gratification girl, because I do believe life to be "brutish and short". You gotta take your happiness where you can get it, eat dessert first, get those great shoes before they are sold out, yadda yadda yadda. I'm all about Seize the Day. But I'm beginning to think that the philosophy of the Dead Poets Society really only works if you are on the short term track. Life is a long-haul, at least theoretically, so perhaps burning through all the fuel early on isn't the best idea (how's that for some mixed metaphors).

Ok, so what does all this rambling mean exactly? Well, I'm not totally sure. I'm wrestling with some gators right now - gators that keep me up at night, that make me wonder if I am doing what is Easy, or doing what is Right, gators that question my Live for Today kind of thinking. I think that I've made some choices along Life's road that were the equivalent of bingeing on candy because it tasted so good; now I have the sugar hang-over and the tummy ache. Things that taste sweet now can leave a bad taste in your mouth later. Rationing the sugar of our lives rather than bingeing on whatever tastes sweet in the moment, seems a bit more wise to me. What is the Sugar? I think it is different for everyone. For some people, it is materialistic crap. For others, it is hanging onto things, people, places that just aren't good for them.

Part of my journey into making a Home is about cutting back on this Sugar. Like all cravings, it makes it difficult to do without it - at first. But time will help with that, I'm sure. If I ration the Sugar and leave room for other, truly sweet things to take its place, I think my home will be a more satisfying place for everyone. All this sweetness ruins my appetite for what is real.


Anonymous said...

Okay, not only are you fantastic and I want to put you in my pocket but you are right. And boy howdy so I have that same sweet tooth sister. Oh I could just squench you to pieces right now.

Sling said...

A little deprivation builds character.
My room mate's family comes over for dinner frequently,and none of them have ever had "leftovers" in their life!Each time,it's cook enough food to feed an army,and throw out what doesn't get eaten.I do my best to utilize the leftovers,but I can't keep up...It's absolutely infuriating!
I know there's a more philosophical point in your post.A point that I personally embrace.
I think that if these people ever had to do without,they mighy appreciate what they have.

Speck said...

I, for one, highly recommend the Spartan life. Hubby and I self-inflicted it on ourselves seven years ago by moving from a 2700 sq. ft. house to an 850 sq. ft. one along with an income reduction of 60%. We shed 25 years of material accumulations and ya know, we don't miss them a bit. Having all that "stuff" created clutter and stress. Unless something is absolutely essential to daily living, it doesn't get to stay in my house.

On the "Live for Today" thing, my philosophy is, "Live like you're going to die tomorrow, and plan (financially) like you're going to live forever." Tell those folks you love that you love 'em every time you speak, and avoid toxic people who do not love you for who you are. Instead of buying something that catches your eye, put the money in the bank to pay for your future nursing home care. In the Spartan life, something as basic as the purchase of new dishcloths can be the highlight of the month.

Sorry for the long ramble, but your post really struck a chord. I get all excited when I think someone is on the verge of simplifying their life and reorganizing priorities. YES, it can be done, and YES it can be glorious. Good luck with your gater wrestlin'. I'll be cheering for ya from afar!

By the way, I did keep two "Sugars" that aren't essential to daily living: a trunk of art supplies and my computer. I could probably give up the computer, but my soul would die if I could not draw and paint.

Lorraine said...


Mom said...

I think you are fantastic! I always have enjoyed reading anything you wrote. You have a delightful sense of humor and good old fashioned common sense. Keep up entertaining the internet crowd.