Addressing the second one first, writing 500 words a day is not that big of a challenge to me since I write more than that most days. However I have been shamefully neglecting you the readers of this blog the past few weeks. So I decided that my 500 words a day will take the form of a blog post. This means that for the next thirty-one days I will be writing this blog without missing a single day. My challenge will be to keep it interesting to you. So for those of you who come here every day (and that means a lot to me you wonderful faithful people) for the next thirty-one at least, you will actually find something to read!
So that's that. Now the first part of this blog, and the main part. I've been doing some intense navel gazing these past weeks. When I started this personal journey of mine I expected that I would change and grow, and I have. I have even grown in ways I thought that I would (control freak remember, I tried to predict how I would change and prepare for it). I have become freer, more serene, more myself than I have been in many years. I have found my square hole and it's lined with words, and I've planted my square, word covered peg into it, and it's growing books. Did you like that metaphor? I came up with it just now.
I have grown in other ways too. As those of you who have read this blog from the start will know, when I came here I was an emotional mess; I had plenty of emotional baggage and very little physical baggage. I gave up (or lost if you want to put it that way) almost everything and what remained fit into two suitcases. Having been financially challenged since coming here all I possess still fits into those two suitcases.
What I've learned is that you truly don't need much to be content. I've said that before. It's all just stuff and while some stuff is pretty and gives pleasure to look at, it's still just stuff. You can do without just about all of it and still be ok. How many teacups do I have now? (and I used to collect old teacups, had cupboards full of them). I have three in truth but I use only one and the others are in case of visitors. I have three plates, three bowls, three spoons etc. This is for reasons of practicality (small kitchen) and financial (can't afford to buy more). But I don't need any more than that. I don't hold dinner parties, I don't entertain visitors. There is no reason for me to have any more than what I need.
That goes for everything. Sure, it would be nice to have better quality furniture, but what is here is functional and sturdy. It would be nice to have new clothes, we all love new clothes, but again what I have is functional and not worn out. I could use new shoes since my single pair (and I am embarrassed when I think of how many pairs of shoes I once owned) are just about worn out. One day I'll get new shoes. I have a few ornaments - mostly put away since I have cats - and very little else.
But here's the thing I've been thinking about. Why do we accumulate stuff; why do we buy more clothes than we need, why do we buy ornaments and dinner sets and shoes and furniture and all the other stuff that clutters up an average house and wardrobe? What space are we trying to fill with all of this stuff? And more than that, why are we so hell bent on more and more when the earth is already groaning with the weight of our cast offs?
Where I am living now I am surrounded by people who are truly living in poverty. They have much less than I do, they don't even have a decent place to live. Why do we think we are entitled to buy all this stuff that we don't need when there are people in the world who have absolutely nothing? This world is unbalanced, the very rich are focused on keeping their wealth and growing it, the very poor are focused on surviving. We have been told by the media for so long that we need to update our wardrobes each year, that we need new cars and new phones and new everything all the time that we believe it. But we don't. Living to buy stuff is taking away our humanity.
Think about your true friends, do you love them because of what they have? (and if you said yes you probably should do some deep navel gazing yourself). Of course you don't, you love them for who they are. Do you care how big their house is, or how new their car or phone or that they could wear a different pair of shoes every day for two months and still not have worn them all? (blushes guiltily there). No you don't. So why are you so hell bent on 'improving' your worldly situation?
We all should be working on improving ourselves, what is within and not outward appearances. Worldly goods, to use an old fashioned term, are nothing more than window dressing. They don't give happiness or peace. Just a rush of endorphins that dissipates and has to be renewed by buying something else.
I'm not saying give away everything and live in a box, but I am saying think before you buy that new dress. Do you really need it? Or will you wear it a few times and then grow tired of it and go buy a new one. Where does our cast off junk go? Where do the old phones and shoes and cars go? Yes, in a lot of cases they are recycled but not all. Here I walk past mountains of garbage. Where you live you may not see the mountain of garbage but it is there, somewhere. Recycling is great, but we should all think more carefully about what we do and the impact we have on this earth.
The poverty stricken exist all over the world and they should not. We have enough resources to feed and clothe every person on this planet and yet we don't. Life is not about who has the most money or possessions. Life is about every day trying to be a better person than you were the day before. Life is about helping other people. We are all connected, we all live on one planet and one planet is all we have.
This is not to say that once I begin to make more money from my books that I will continue to wear one pair of shoes that are falling apart. Of course I will buy new shoes. But I will no longer be led by the commercialism of the world. I will buy what I need, when I need it. I will not ever again own so many shoes, or so many items of clothing. I will continue my personal growth and I will try to help others. And I will consider this earth - why buy a new phone as the manufacturers are so intent on programming us to do, when the phone I have works just fine? Why make more landfill when there is no need of it. Money is not the root of all evil, it has no conscience, no sense of self. Money is a tool and like any tool it will do as the will of the person holding it decides.
Success is a word that has in a way been corrupted. Success has come to mean financial gain - a successful person is one who makes a lot of money. I don't think that's correct. A successful person is someone who has found what makes him/her happy, what gives fulfillment and joy. A successful person lives with contentment in life. A successful person has enough money to do what is needed but is not focused on getting money per se, but in how it can be used. I am already successful in that I have found my path in life. I will be financially successful when my path makes me enough money to live and to do what I wish to do.
Life is enriched not by possessions but by helping others - people and animals - and by improving who you are, not what you own.
And finally, in case you have got here and you're saying wait a minute, that's more than 500 words - fortunately the premise is a minimum of 500 words. However, note to self, write the blog in Word first to get the word count...
So see you tomorrow, for day two of the challenge. (Actually the biggest challenge will be keeping count of the days).