Frugality and the Simple Life

As a kid, I learned the value and importance of savings from my parents, especially my father. We wanted for little, but lived tightly. When I was in 6th grade these air pump shoes were very popular and very expensive for the time ($80-$100). The shoes were supposed to inflate a bit when compressing this round bubble emblem and give an advantage when playing basketball. I wanted shoes like that. Not because I was athletic or anything of the sort, but because they were neat and different. My parents couldn't afford nor did I expect them to buy such shoes for me to wear for the school year. So at a discount store we happened upon a generic version of the air pumps. I wore them to school with glee and was made fun of because they had no effect like the real things. I would never have thought to tell or complain to my parents about it. I knew, understood, and respected that we were on a budget. Sharing that I was made fun of for having those knock-offs would have only embarrassed my parents --- and I knew that at a young age.

My brother however, by the age of 5 or 6 had become so spoiled that when it was my birthday my mother decided to gift him a small cheap gift. The gift she chose was a candy bar. When we were opening gifts, my brother opened his and cried out “It’s A CANDY BAR!” and a hysterical temper tantrum followed.

Nowadays, I’m in my thirties and I look around at all these man-made devices and the current generation of want and must have and the get the next best thing way of American life. I wonder if this modern life is for me. I’ve often felt like I might have been born into the world a few years or even a decade too late based on my likings. We are living unnaturally in a man-made world with trappings that imitate life and our essence. Underneath the mainstreaming of our desires we secretly and subconsciously crave simplicity, desperately.

I think back to my childhood and remember all the summers of playing on my grandparent’s farm. They were poor but completely supported themselves, self-sufficient and again wanted for nothing.  I think about my grandmother’s very simple life as a widow and I envy her way of life, in a way. She woke up before dawn, did her daily chores, made meals for family, and would write poetry while staring out the window when by herself to pass the time. Television and no other media distraction was ever a part of her life. My grandparents had a TV; they just never turned it on. I remember my grandmother saying the people on TV were silly.

How we want to live changes from decade to decade. Our wants, our needs, our expectations, our priorities all change.  Life can be many things. What I want now is the simplicity and gratitude of it.

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