Get Off At The Next Station

Too Fast
Too Fast

Full speed ahead ………… words exhorted by a ship’s captain on the high seas that mean get going – we’re going to move FAST. When you’re living your life full speed ahead – as do most Americans and many other cultures – full speed ahead can mean we miss where we’re at and the blessings in the moment.

What are we SPEEDING to? Do we think that “If only I do this, have this, own this, get this” we will finally be able to be happy? Why can’t we be happy NOW?

I think our Declaration of Independence  should read

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and Happiness. Not the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.

Why must we pursue happiness? It is a condition that is available to every soul in every moment. There is no material thing, no accumulation of wealth and no physical gratification that will bring more happiness to us than that which is here in this moment. We only need to get off the pursuit of happiness train – at the next station.

Americans are goal setters. We strive to better ourselves. Those of us raised by parents who lived during The Great Depression are particularly prone to needing to get ahead. Our parents had scars that never healed from being hungry, out of work and no prospects of bettering their circumstances. The lack of money was a big motivator in my family. Being the big spender, I was always denigrated for not holding on to money until it screamed in agony. Whenever, as a married adult, I would purchase something for my home and it would accidentally come to the attention of my mother, I was told how she had never had anything that expensive in her life. I once paid $38 for a robe. This was back in the 70s. You would have though I was turning tricks at the bus station! This may be why I have never told my son he can’t have something that he’s paying for and which is no business of mine. If he is going to be broke – it’s his broke, not my broke.

Everything goes in cycles. We are now in an economy that may be getting better. It has been awful since 2008. Oil prices shot up and made everything more expensive. The housing crisis hit. All of a sudden the ability to get a home equity loan to pay off your bills disappeared. Seems we were using our homes as an ATM. For stuff. Stuff that keeps us on the train – getting ahead.

Two-thirds of our economy depends on the consumer. Consuming lots of stuff from washer and dryers to cars and clothes and food and on and on. If we don’t shop we don’t have jobs or money or things. Things are not that important. Being able to feed your family is important. I would never tell anyone not to shop. Please shop.

I get a lot of comments about wanting to buy stuff made in America from my customers. This is a noble goal if all of the textile companies hadn’t left the States over 30 years ago. And if US manufacturers that are left could produce the items as cheaply as those that are imported. And also if Americans would be willing to pay the extra price necessary to offer US made items to the customer. Items made in the US cost more because the workers are paid a living wage here. It would be lovely if everyone in every country would be paid a living wage. It would level the playing field. For now, I don’t think many of the customers would pay $100 for a dress shirt opposed to $49 for a dress shirt. Of course they can shop at a big box store and get a shirt less expensive, but it won’t last as long – trust me on this.

Rush rush rush. Get ahead, move forward, achieve your goals. Don’t stop to think just keep going. How many men do you know in their 50s that have left their families behind and struck off with a new wife and/or girlfriend 20 or more years younger? How many men suffer from an identity crisis at that age? Could it be that getting ahead, making money, buying things, providing for their families – has worn them out? Maybe they think life has passed them by because while they are working their kids are growing up and their wives are putting their energy into pursuits the men do not understand or care about? Don’t they wake up one day and say “I want a life” and think they will have one if they leave? Maybe if we allowed them to be happy now without conditions their lives would not seem empty.

Getting off the get ahead locomotive is a brave thing to do. It is choosing time over money. With time and peace and leisure we can explore our souls. If you ask “Why am I here?” once you get off that train – you will know why you’re here – the only reason any of us are here – to know our soul and to know God. And we cannot do this on that high-speed bullet train to nowhere. Get Off At The Next Station – save yourself.

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