My friend who booked the cottage and I are crossing in terms of lifestyle. Before it was me with the happy marriage and disposable income, going out and buying nice things and generally being care free; he had a child having problems in school causing stress in his relationship, single income feeding the family, and generally all around in more a providing mode. Tags: friends
In the last year or so, he has had a couple very large increases in his pay packet. He works bloody hard, and is now the guy they send in to fix the problem operations. As a result, his lifestyle is changing. He's got a nice car, a Mac at home, buys his meat from a farm shop and takes his wife out to nice meals. His son is also doing better in school and the combination of it all means his marriage feels very secure. I, on the other hand, have not had a change in grade for years and have had three years of frozen pay. On top static pay faced with inflation, I'm divorced and now paying for everything myself. My standard of living has gone down, and at the moment it feels like it will maintain -- at best -- for the foreseeable future.
Let me be clear about something first, we are talking about material things. No one has been in danger of going without a meal or losing a house. It's the fancy stuff on the edges that our consumerist culture tells us we need. As much as I rail against it, I still cannot help but to succumb at times. And I have felt small pangs of jealousy. It's horrible, because it is so unnecessary.
To start with, I am genuinely happy for the guy. Jesus, he deserves it. He's been through a lot and he works hard. As for me, I've got what I need and I'm patently not in competition with anyone. I'm in a completely different situation in a city with no car, providing for no one but myself. I tend to prefer fewer things but higher quality, and I like seeing my friends experiencing what others have to offer. I don't have the need for constant foreign travel to see the world, but I do need to eat and drink well. I have grown accustomed to a certain standard of living, but I also fully appreciate that it is a standard of considerable comfort compared to many. Basically, if my mortgage goes up a half point it means less fine wine, fewer dinners out and less expensive travelling. Priorities.
So what is my point (to myself)? Well 2014 has been a good and busy year. Forcing myself to be out, experience things and see people has given me the opportunity to compare and prioritise.
There is no need for resentment or jealousy. Ugly, base emotions. Particularly towards people I care about and have earnt what they've got, going about it the right way, who have always treated me with respect and kindness. What there is a need for, is a continued focus on what keeps me content. Even in the niceties of living, choices will be made.
So for me, eating/drinking well, in or out. Not the prestige/price of wine, but whether it gives me pleasure (in learning, collecting, sharing). Not whether a restaurant is the place to be seen, but whether the food is interesting, the atmosphere is convivial, and there is passion (rather than profit) behind it all. Putting effort into my own cooking, trying new things, feeding myself well and sharing it with friends. And music. Not the hardest gigs to get to, but performances that stir the soul or mind, with audiences that care. Interspersed with this is getting better at physical activity and putting an effort in to how I look/dress (but not flashy). Last but not least, being with people I care about and bringing out the best in them, not putting others down to make myself feel more important.
, self Current Location: desk