It is easy to focus on what we need. Rather, what we think we need. It is the sort of mentality that leads people to clear the shelves of goods like toilet paper, now considered an essential. However, I assure you that for most of our time on earth, our species made do without the luxury of little quilted pieces of paper with which to wipe our ass.
I have had the benefit of being poor. Under the federal poverty level sort of poor. Food stamps and then welfare, while trying to raise two small children alone.
It sucked, but I also learned a lot. Including what we could do without.
I got into the vintage clothing business because I couldn’t afford to shop anywhere but thrift stores. Now when my kids look at photos of themselves from their youth, they think they look pretty damn hip in their second hand clothes.
After marrying for the second time I enjoyed a period of relative prosperity. Not gonna lie, it was nice–not having to worry about money all of the time. However, when I made the decision to leave the marriage, my economic situation changed once again. Not quite as dire but given my medical expenses, nonetheless challenging.
However several things have gotten me through. One, my amazing friends, who magically fill in the at times gaping gaps. Creativity and the ability to make a killer meal from rice, an onion, coconut milk and some peanut butter. And if finances allow, I add chicken plus some cilantro or basil. Maybe a few peanuts. Cheap, filling and delicious.
Most importantly, understanding what I can do without. Less really can be more.
Scaling back one’s needs is incredibly freeing. It reduces consumption and anxiety.
This is a tough time—for all of us. But if we stay calm and look out for each other, we are going to get through this in better shape than if we do not. Remember what is truly important. Love.
And unlike toilet paper, it’s not about how much you take but rather how much you give away.