The Best Things in Life

I don’t much care about fashion or gadgets (I just want to look like I fit somewhere in the current decade and have a device that works). I don’t much care about travel, beyond the occasional getaway. I don’t much care about the so-called social scene.

I’ve been married for 10 years and experimented in each of the above pursuits. I’ve found each of them to be at best, a disappointment; at worst, a trap. Clever distractions to divert attention away from what truly matters in life – faith and family.

Let’s face it: Fashion is not much more than a lovely racket. Cleverly arranged pieces that appeal to the eye and make one feel “I simply MUST have that!” And after you’ve worn your perfectly paired finery, you realize you’ve spent more than you should have – on something nonessential. And just give it a season – you will find that you rarely, if ever, use it again. (Unless, of course, you are the type to choose essential pieces in classic colors and styles. In that case, you may use those pieces season after season.) And the never-ending parade of smartphones, tablets, and other devices is clearly just another trap, if you MUST have the latest and greatest. There will always be a new one.

On to travel. Don’t get me wrong. This girl has heard (but never answered) the call of the Australian Outback, the siren song of Paris, the timeless calm of the English countryside. But simply put, these things cost money. Quite a bit of it. And after the headiness of the experience has faded, all you have left are some pricey souvenirs and way too many photos. And perhaps debt. I may be in the minority here, but that seems a very fleeting source of happiness for such a high price. I’d rather have something I can hold on to. Besides an overpriced miniature Eiffel Tower.

As for the social scene, if I have to impress someone with my experiences in the world of fashion and/or travel (or anything else, for that matter!) to be accepted into a particular circle, I don’t want to be a part of that circle anyway!

Realistically, the majority of our lives are not spent in any of the above pursuits (unless we actually work in an industry relating to any or all of them). The majority of our lives are spent in making a living and, well, living. Why can’t making the most of the life we are building be THE pursuit? Instead of the next outfit, trip, or party, why aren’t we focused on the people that make up our lives?

The best things in life are not free. They cost, not money, but time and effort. Any relationship will give only what you invest in it. Therefore, I’m not going to fritter away precious moments with those I love. I’m going to enjoy them and truly love them. I married my husband because I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, not just my spare time. I’ve found my calling: it is being a dedicated wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, and friend. The latest fashion will be whatever I can afford. The latest smartphone will be the one I get at a discount. The dream vacation will be the one I spend with my family – anywhere. My social life is full of beautiful people who know how to have fun – with children and pets, in a casual atmosphere, where there is no pressure to impress. Because in my world, my husband’s laugh, a sincere “thank you” from a family member, hugs and smiles from the children, my dog’s wagging tail – are the beautiful, intangible things of true value. And I wouldn’t change that for anything.

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“The Non-Friend”

In the course of living life, we forge friendships. Some of these friendships last a lifetime, changing and maturing with us. Some follow a cyclical pattern of closeness and drifting apart. Some fade into mere acquaintanceship. Some sadly wither into a state we shall dub “the non-friend.”

“The non-friend” is someone with whom you once shared a close relationship, but for any number of reasons, the relationship has deteriorated into indifference, at best – at worst, an almost hostile state. Yet, both parties remain a part of the same social circle and therefore are often thrown together despite the dissolution of the relationship. Perhaps the break occurred because the relationship was all take and no give on one side. Perhaps both personalities changed drastically – or just one changed. Perhaps your patience ran out. Perhaps you discovered that your “friend” values possessions or popularity over the feelings of others, including yourself. Perhaps you found that your principles and those of your “friend” varied too widely to be reconcilable. Perhaps you found a cruel streak in their personality that you simply could not live with. Perhaps they simply stopped talking and/or caring and refused to explain why.

This state of affairs is quite painful and often embarrassing, as others who knew of your relationship ask why you aren’t close anymore. If you’ve invested much time and emotion in the relationship, you may experience a sense of loss. Maybe you took on what I call the “savior” role – being a problem-solver, therapist and life coach for your friend, only to find that they were using you. Losing the friendship may cause you to feel that you have failed.

When the dust settles, however, you may find that no longer expending your energies on a one-sided relationship is to your benefit. You may begin to seek and/or strengthen healthy relationships with more considerate people who truly value you for who you are and who exert a positive influence in your life. You may discover the meaning of a truly equal, give-and-take relationship. You may learn to value yourself more as a result.

But what about your “friend” – now “the non-friend?” As they follow their chosen path without you and you perhaps take the high road, your paths may cross. How these interactions flow may depend heavily on how you choose to behave toward your one-time friend – “the non-friend.” If you continue to take the high road, showing kindness regardless of the other person’s behavior, you will not only keep from deepening the rift, you will have something to be proud of – self-respect. If you choose to view the entire experience as a lesson, you will likely move on in your life with more wisdom and less angst.

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Have you had an experience like this? Please share your thoughts!