I don’t know if you remember them but in the 70’s and 80’s there were “things” called flounces that you put around the bottom of your bed. I do not think they had any significant use other than to cover an ugly base to the bed. However, in the late 80’s and 90’s enter the water bed. I loved my water bed for two main reasons. One the old bed was lumpy and extremely uncomfortable and the water bed wasn’t, but the other thing was our water bed was timber based and I could ditch the flounces forever!!! I thought!
Currently we are in the United States living with our daughter. She has a bed with a base and she asked me to put on the “flounce” to cover the ugly base. Yes, they are back!! Now the things with flounces apart from their incredible lack of relevant use are they are extremely problematic when it comes to making said bed. They inevitably become entangled with the top sheet and you have to pull either out from under the mattress –very annoying if you don’t like the crinkled look of your bed. (Stop Press – I have found if I hold the flounce with my toes, I can stop the flounce from flouncing while I tuck the sheets in! Boom! Small victory!) However, this takes a few extra minutes of my life every day trying to control something that really makes no sense at all.
I was cursing the “flounces” the other day and commented to Paul just how flounces represent the useless things in life!
Last October we walked 800 plus kilometres across France and Spain on the Camino De Compestella. It was an incredible experience and one which I will begin to blog about shortly….I was too exhausted on the trail each night to do much other than fall face first in to bed, to write anything significant along the Way! One of the things that both Paul and I noted was just how much stuff we all think we need in our lives to survive.
We each carried our back packs for around 8 weeks with everything we needed along the Way. We ditched quite a bit the first few days out as did many others, after a huge trek through the Pyrenees helped you decide what was really necessary for the rest of the 800 plus kilometre walk. I think many of us need to ditch those things that are weighing us down or keep us entrapped in this cycle of life – physical and emotional!
Here is my somewhat cynical portrayal of life especially after having packed up my parent’s houses and seen others die leaving behind all their worldly possessions. Mind you this is from a totally western perspective, yet having lived cross culturally I do see that there is an innate desire in mankind to accumulate, despite poverty and cultural variants.
We are born.
We have lots of toys and keepsakes as children.
We move out of home taking a few of those keepsakes with us – perhaps leaving the rest behind with Mum and Dad.
We may eventually get married or not but either way we accumulate what it takes to set up one house after another. As our income increases, so does our desire to increase our belongings.
Children may come..need I say more. Pets…can be just as consuming.
Children leave home, usually, but not always, taking with them those precious keepsakes.
We may decide it is time to downsize. So we sell off, give away or just store.
Sometimes we decide that we can’t live without all our “stuff” so start collecting again.
In only a matter of years much time and money has been spent re-accumulating.
Then time catches up and we find ourselves not able to really look after all the stuff any longer so start to sell off give away or dump by this stage.
Then if we are blessed with longer life than many others we might find ourselves in the proverbial 3 meter x 4 meter room and be lucky enough not to have to share with some other older person. We are allocated one cupboard and bit of wall space to hang our cherished pictures of family or a treasured art piece.
At the end of our vapour life we finally die and our few last possessions are either fought over by family or dumped at the nearest thrift shop.
Other scenarios are those who continue all their lives to accumulate, house after house, storage shed after storage shed to contain it all. Some leaving significant investments, jewellery, art etc all ending in the same scenario with family either fighting over it or dumped somewhere on to the next accumulating person.
I know it sounds cynical but my question is, “Why do we pursue these ‘things’ with such passion, fervency, desire, time and money?”
Other questions are:
Why do we train our children to become consumers?
Why do we feel we need so much?
Why are we afraid to let go of those ‘things’ that we think are everything to us.
I remember when we were in the Philippines a couple of years ago and I was walking with some friends listening to their stories of how they lost every single thing they owned when one of the world’s worst typhoons and tidal surge thereafter, killed so many, and wiped out entire townships and cities.
I asked if anyone in their area had committed suicide after the storm.
“Why would they?” my friend asked incredulously.
I explained the number of suicides occurring in the outback of Australia due to farmers losing their farms and their livelihoods etc due to extremely prolonged droughts and economic issues. ‘
“Why? Are they not used to being poor?” was her reply.
Therein is the kicker. We have so many expectations from media to family, to culture. To have is to be…be someone, be important, be happy, be content, be successful, be..If I have then I am. If I have then I was.
We are much more than stuff. I for one want my life to measure far more than through what I have or don’t have. I want to be..the person God has called me to be. I want to be there for the significant people in my life and the not so significant. I want to be available to go where and when God calls me, not encumbered by the constraints of this world. I want my wealth and health to be measured in the eternal weights and balances. It doesn’t mean I want to live on the streets etc but I just don’t want to be consumed by the acquisition of things to try and satisfy something only God can fill in my life and living for His purposes can bring value to my existence. Maybe I am the aged hippy my eldest daughter said I was!
Maybe I try to embrace a saying credited to Mother Theresa, “Live simply so that others might simply live!”
I will continue to make my bed with the flounce in respect of my daughters wishes but I can’t wait to ditch anything that doesn’t have significant use or value to my life………Its too short for flounces.
Until next time.