Today, we have a story about a CEO who lost money in the Madoff scam and killed himself. It’s a funny (not like, funny, ha-ha, of course) coincidence because this morning I was talking to a friend about our relationship to “material possessions.”
I hate material possessions. I don’t spend money, I don’t like to accumulate a lot of stuff, and I have constant anxiety about waste. She likes material stuff, but she realizes that the danger of it is that it makes people crave money, and craving money can lead you to a job you hate, but which consumes your life because it feeds your need for material possessions.
Certainly, obsession with material possessions can lead to an obsession with money, and it can lead to losing touch with reality and doing something like, oh, I dunno, slitting your wrists over losing money. Basically the late Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuche represents the worst possible outcome of my friend’s fears about addiction to money: becoming empty and having no perspective to ground you.
But being able to appreciate some material possessions can also make you “full” in a healthy way. As in all cases, balance is key. In memory of our poor CEO friend, I would like to recount other expamples of perspective I gained in the past few days. In no particular order:
1) It’s not as cold as you think. Once you have survived negative 10 degree weather in Wisconsin, you will start to think that 16 degrees in New York City just really isn’t that bad.
2) Being tall doesn’t suck. When you are lost in a crowd of 6’6″ corn-husking Midwesterners at a Wisco graduation, you will realize that being 5’11” (even if you are a girl, even if you feel awkward most of the time, even if you will NEVER be “cute”) is a great asset, because being able to see over a crowd is INVALUABLE.
3) Lowering expectations is a good thing. Even if your family dynamic is highly unconvential, if you lower the bar of what you think measures “normal”, then you can easily reach the bar. We take the “dis” out of “dysfunctional.”
4) Vacation is overrated. Monday was the only vacation day I’ve taken since April that didn’t involve writing a paper for school. So the only real vacation day since April. However, I spent all 13 hours of it traveling from Madison, WI to Union Square, NYC. After traffic, airports, airplanes and other travelers, going back to work has never seemed so awesome.
5) Even a panic attack can be fun. I was gchatting my friend to tell him that I was having a panic attack. (A thrice daily occurance with me, at minimum.) Apparently, his 7 year old sister was reading along. This is what happened:
“My sister was reading it out loud. She asked: ‘what is a panic attack’ I said: ‘it means she had a party all by herself…there was a pinata there.’ Now she wants to have a panic attack too.”
That’s me..spreading the cheer. (And hopefully some perspective.)