The first half of this year has seen the end of several eras of peoples lives. Around me the world has changed for close friends. Some will be able to piece together something resembling the world they knew while others have new realities that they will have to adapt to. Relationships have been destroyed or damaged, financial worlds have crumbled, or Murphy’s law kicked into full gear and plagued some with a barrage of situations that left their world a wasteland.
While I sit back powerless in most cases to help I realize that my own problems are a mere shadow of what others are going through. A few years ago my life fell apart with a divorce and I was forced to find a new way to live. I tried to keep things normal by buying things that would make me “happy.” I racked up debt trying to buy happiness instead of adapting to my new life. Eventually I changed as I needed to and was able to reverse the damage I did. I see others making the same mistakes I had made. Unfortunately some are unable to reverse the damage and have their worlds falling around them.
While I float on by I feel guilt and shame for my inability to help. The desire to lend a hand, offer assistance in any way I can, has been twisting in my gut. To help means risking my own security. Offering advice usually falls on deaf ears. In the end I am left blaming a horrible society for causing these situations to occur. People have been trained to spend more money when they make more. Happiness is to be found in material items as opposed to financial security. Things like cable television are now viewed as a necessity instead of the luxury they are.
I don’t know how the hell America came to this point but I know it needs to change. I changed it for myself. That’s not to say I don’t spend money on stupid shit from time to time. Afterwards I end up kicking myself later. What I have noticed is once you cut yourself from television the impulse to buy subsides. The gimmick of the latest gadget loses it’s appeal and a bank account suddenly comes to life.
What I find sad is how hard people fight to keep the norm that no longer exist. When things are going bad trying to stick with the old normal can be self destructive. Adaptation has always been at the forefront of evolution. I was lucky enough to change my tune before the damage I caused was too great to reverse. I’m not seeing that with some of the loved ones I have. I try to think of solutions, ways to reverse the damage, and frankly they are not there. It’s hard to find a balance between caring and not letting the stress effect you.
I am fortunate to have a new job, a roof over my head, a garden in my yard, money in the bank, and a car that runs. I may not have the latest tablet, fit bit, I phone, high speed internet connection, blue ray player, video game system or flashy car. I do have security. In our world luxury has become the norm. While some like to bitch about people expecting their “entitlements” they should first look at their own lives and look at the luxuries they expect around them. Having food on your table and a roof over your head is a necessity. Having talking heads feeding you bullshit 24/7 on a television screen enticing you to buy, buy, buy when you can’t afford it is a luxury. Americans have become accustomed to being rich and we have a hard time adapting to being poor when it happens. The truth about being poor in America is not knowing, even then, we are still rich compared to most.
Matthew Gilman can be contacted on his author Facebook page and found on Twitter.