Do you have enough?

Posted on 3 min read

DSCN3386_276How much is too much?  In the age of a bad economy or even a good economy for that matter, how much do we really need?  I’m not talking about the Buddhist concept  of giving up everything, just the practical question of having as much as you need and not more. 

My husband and I recently did some re-modeling.  When it was finally done, I looked at it and said to my husband that it was “fancy”.  He promptly countered, “No it’s not.   Fancy means over-the-top or ostentatious.  Our house is clean and under-stated.”

Now, maybe growing up with an OBGYN for a father, meaning that his family wasn’t rich, but they always lived in new, large and well appointed houses.  To him, it wasn’t fancy.  Growing up with a professor/scientist’s and then a nurse’s income; fancy is all relative.  My mom would have seen our house and thought it was very very fancy.  She grew up in the east end of London in a cold water flat.  My father picked cotton in a rural farm in Louisiana.  One person’s under-stated is another’s fancy.

What do we really need?  What do I think I need?  Ok, I need my health.   First and foremost. But, I always say that and in the next breath, I think things like, I need some new work-out clothes, a new facial cleanser, something to make my skin less wrinkly, a fall handbag, a spring handbag, new boots, comfortable platform shoes, a new cell phone,  whatever some stylist says I need, a new book, a trip somewhere, anywhere…I could go on. 

I write a column about shopping.  I’ve been spending a lot of time in boutiques.  I have made a pact with myself that I will not buy from a store that I’m writing about. But there are a lot of boutiques in the world, and I can’t write about all of them.   So, I rationalize that buying something that’s unique or one-of-a-kind is worth it.   I’m like a bird watcher, spying the rare breed.  Only in my case, I hunt and kill the bird, stuff it and take it home.  What is it that makes people, particularly women, want to shop?  Experts say that 90% of all compulsive shoppers are women.  Instead of taking pleasure in the things I’ve got, I too often obsess over the things I don’t. 

When I buy something new, I give away something old.  That way, I’m not continuing to collect more and more.  It started with my son’s toys. I hated the visual of an only child with boxes of stuff all around him like a little prince.  This works well.  It gives me pleasure knowing that someone will get use out of a good pair of pants that frankly, I just can’t fit into anymore.

At some point enough has to be enough. Right?  Is it too much to want more from my looks?  I buy creams and lotions, but the girls are starting to head for the border.  I haven’t gone down plastic surgery highway yet, but will my creams lead to laser, then to Botox?  Is Botox the gateway drug to plastic surgery?  I’m pretty sure that my fear of surgery will prevail.  The imagined conversation at my funeral: “She had to have perfect boobs. Now she’s gone. Oh, the price of beauty.  Let it be a lesson to us all, ” my friends and family would say. 

The truth is, it makes me uncomfortable having what I think of as  “too much.”  It takes away the joy of getting something new, waiting for it, dare I say… earning it.  I’ll continue to enjoy what I have, and the less I shop, the more I realize that I’ve got a lot.




1 Comment
  • mikelkmiller
    July 25, 2010

    hi, Rebekah. just read your article about Cuba Gooding and posted a comment in response.

    You write well. I think you and some of your friends would enjoy hanging out for a day with some other Baja authors and me at the Oct. 9 Baja Book Festival on the southern edge of Rosarito. It’s next door to the Puerto Nuevo lobster village, so you can finish the day with lobster and Margaritas. I PROMISE, you have nothing to fear (but fear itself.) You might even gain a little more perspective about living in northern Baja.

    If you’re interested, I’ll ask the organizers to send you an invitation. Hasta manana.