Friday, October 10, 2008

Sans Segue

Isn't it funny how time changes things we never think possible? Ten, twenty years after high school you run into someone you dated or had a crush on and think "oh thank god I didn't marry them!" Or you find out that that one person that used to make your life miserable and you swore you were going to learn voodoo just to put a hex on them turns out to be your best friend in the absence of peer pressure?

That didn't happen to me. Ok, maybe the first one did. But that's not the point. Without segue of any consequence, I bring you "why people are superficial":

I had a lovely conversation with a lovely lady the other day. We spoke of all that she had accomplished since her own graduation from high school. Names were dropped: Lexus, Mercedes, Stella McCartney. She explained how she and her husband labored to have a new home build for them. She regaled me with a tale of how they spared no expense with regards to marble floors and hard wood cabinets and top of the line jetted tubs. She complained at the cost of building a driveway. She lamented that her lawyer friends had it done for far less. She told me who all was at the open house they gave, and listed a bunch of hot shots that make her world complete. She continued to explain how disappointed she is that she didn't get a new car for her birthday, as hers is two model years old now.

It went on: past cruises, next year's planned trip to Disneyworld and how she wanted a safari instead but the kids.... I swear, this woman knew no bounds to how unhappy she was having everything she could possibly dream up.

Ergo my point. I've seen 42 of the United States. I've been to the Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls, Carlsbad Caverns, both coastlines, the Great Lakes, the Rocky Mountains. I've seen Canada, Mexico, and South Korea. I've been in the deep South and the Northernmost Mid-West. Chicago, DC, Atlanta, New Orleans, San Antonio, St. Louis, Denver, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu. I've driven all but 200 miles of the original Route 66. I've got piles of photos, so what.

I've owned a Mercedes. 5, actually. All my German luxury cars were 1978-1984... the tanks. Man I loved those cars. The rode like clouds and handled like demon sports cars. I wouldn't give the taxes for a new Mercedes. Not since Crysler put its fingers in that pie. But I digress.

In this life, the things that have made me the happiest have been the small things that aren't worth anything to other people: snuggling with my son, walking hand in hand with my love, spending a day at the beach with my family, a dinner at a Denny's with good friends that was about the laughs and nothing more. No one talked about what kind of car they drove there in because my friends don't measure worth by the emblem on the front of their car. And I love them for it.

Chasing such superficial self-worth is stupid. No address is ever going to make you feel like a better human being for living there. It might make you feel safer at night, but that's about it. No job title is ever going to define you as worthy of character and moral fiber. No social status will ever make your kids love you more when you tuck them into bed at night. Now, tucking them into bed at night might make their eyes shinier when they look at you, as opposed to some nanny doing it, or no one tucking them in at all.

But we collectively chase ridiculous ideas of what is "successful". For me it's simple. A loving family and a group of friends that respect and love each other. German engineering not required.

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