Monday, August 27, 2007

The World vs. The Outside

I've been slowly progressing through Dorothy Day's biography, I'm determined to survive the dryness for the sake of the tidbits she poses. The issue as of late - as I sort through all my stuff and seriously contemplate the future direction of my life - how simply can I live? Simple living in all it's aspects - the food I eat - where it's from etc to what I buy - in that do I really need it? Will those new jeans really land me a pick up line let alone a date - and really is life based on that? I know I don't want to raise children in western society - I remember feeling scorned on non-uniform days or at social events - I worked for everything I had, or needed starting with my first job. I didn't have money to spend it on frivolous expenses like Gucci bags or MuiMui dresses, and I sure didn't get a new car on my 16th birthday or an all expenses trip to the Hilton in Maui for my graduation. I know that's the expectation of any private school kid. So I don't send my kids to private school - only public - considering my experiences with that too I'm apprehensive. But that's far beyond the scope of the here and now. Adulthood is still very much the same - acquisition of stuff - your ring, the wedding, the house and yes even the two kids and the dog or cat. How do you define the lines - where is acceptable and extravagant?

So why other than Dorothy have I been thinking like this? Well a myriad of factors one undercutting it all is the hype over the 10 year anniversary of Diana's death. In case some of you have forgotten another woman died that year, Mother Teresa. There was a distinct binary then and even more so now - one woman worshiped by the world, and another scorned because she chose to worship that which cannot be converted into commercial success. She devoted her life to offering hope to orphans and a peaceful exit to those who had labored.

There is this quote from The Irresistible Revolution that really struck me for two reasons - one I watched my great aunt die a very painful, though thankfully that part was only about two weeks from non-smoker's lung cancer - where she labored to breathe, in the end suffocating and two because of the Gerontology course I took on Death and Dying and the truths revealed.

"Those dying people were some of the most vibrant people I had ever met. There is a morgue in the home for the dying. As you walk into it, a sign on the wall reads, "I'm on my way to heaven." And when you turn around to walk out, another says, "Thanks for helping me get there." (Claiborne 79)

In the end I truly can do so much more with so little, but I can't see it through the Starbucks, Ikea catalogues and everything else. Wonder what it will all look like when I can leave it behind.

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