True Confessions: Not for Naught

Pssst! I’ve got a secret.

Confession, it is widely proclaimed, is good for the soul. It must be true. Ask Jerry Springer, reality show producers, and millions of bloggers.

An experience Saturday afternoon and what it revealed was going to be my little secret, something tucked away from others’ eyes. Oh! But when sentences form about a topic just as I’m going to sleep, then that’s what needs to be written. Last night the words flowed about this matter of the heart.

Hear my confessions:

The first confession is that it’s good to be back in Colorado! Even the poor feel rich here. The best aspects of living in Colorado don’t carry price tags. Sunshine, mountains, fanciful cloud formations, and quaint western towns are free for everyone’s enjoyment. Without much effort everyone enjoys a million dollar view.

The second confession, directly related to Saturday, is that I missed Boulder. It’s a quirky place where my inner ’60s reject, that’s “SR” for those of you who like acronyms, feels at home. It’s almost chic to be living on the cheap. Boulder didn’t disappoint Saturday. It welcomed me back warmly, allowing me to bask in all the resident glory and goofiness.

Montreal (2006)

The third confession is more problematic. Shopping makes me sick. It’s official! While in Boulder I walked past a sweet shop in the retro hip area at Broadway and Alpine. It was the sort of place that in the past would have lured me in for a visit, if only to look around at all that cuteness for sale. But, one look at the window displays Saturday and I turned 90 degrees to the left and kept walking. It didn’t matter that I’m in the midst of my own austerity plan. Even if I had extra cash to spend, I can’t fathom buying anything more than essentials. The notion of shopping and/or accumulating things is unappealing. I don’t even want two kinds of lotion. One will do fine until it’s gone. This, then, leads me to the fourth confession.

I’m “ruined” for life, at least for a typical middle class life. In the past when there were rough patches or setbacks, the goal was to get back to life as it was, or even better than before, as soon as possible. Challenging circumstances were thought of as interruptions rather than course corrections.

In walking past the shop window Saturday, I realized that there’s no going back to the life that existed up until eight or nine months ago. If I did, what would be point of this intense investment that has required so much? Oh, sure, I would remember what it was like to not know where I would sleep at night, or where a meal would come from, or how other needs would be met, all amazingly by the way. Certainly I would continue to carry a deeper appreciation for things many people take for granted. Yet, from the vantage point of anticipated better days, it seems wrong to look back with detachment from my current experience of bare bones living. A narrow path such as the one I’m on doesn’t circle back to the original starting point as if this were a mere detour. Today and its circumstances are my life, not some sort of mistake that needs to be fixed so that I can get on with things.

It is good for me to be “ruined” for life. If God shakes off some of the world from me, why would I rush to add it back? Give me a simple, uncluttered life, free from the tether of things so that I might have that which matters.

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