As a young adult, the difference between want and need is sometimes confusing. None of us needs more than shelter, clean water, heat, food and basic clothing to keep us covered. Your generation has been bombarded by advertising to convince you that you absolutely, positively, must have piles, heaps and mountains of crap to give your lives meaning.
Your life has meaning without all that junk. The minute you drew your first breath, and your parents saw you and loved you, your life had meaning. A rich life is one that has deep solid connections in it. I discovered just how meaningless things were when my mother died. We were left with an entire house full of stuff and none of it was important without Mum there as its curator. I imagine you felt the same way when you saw your dad’s empty bed. It is the people who are significant in our lives.
I have a friend I’ve known for 35 years. We’ve seen each other at our best and worst. When we talk there is no need for pretense and no need to explain because we have a shared history. We tell it like it is and was and we laugh inappropriately. I hope you have one friend in your life, who knows who you really are, Kayla. We all need someone to see us as we are and to love us because of that. A true friend is more valuable than anything you can buy.
When your cousin was about 3 years old, her parents were separated. I lived with her and your aunt at the house on the beach. We had no money at all. We lived paycheck to paycheck. I remember one time, it was a Thursday before payday, and all we had was beets and flour. We cooked the beets and I made Irish soda bread and we were fine. We didn’t have a TV so we listened to NPR at night. We often had peanut butter and jelly picnics on the beach for supper. Our lives have changed dramatically. Your aunt and I talk about that time and we always remark on how happy we were. We had more fun when we had less stuff.
There is no shame in a simple life. I think about the things I buy and I always ask myself if it is something I want or something I need. If it’s only something I want, I ask myself if I will keep the item for the rest of my life (the rest of my life isn’t as long as it once was) if the answer is no I don’t buy it.
Keep your life simple and it will be less stressful and easier to manage.
Each day is a fresh start on a happy ending.