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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Embarassment of Riches

Philander Chase - Bishop (1852)

Our house is a mess. I don't mean it's dirty; people who know us don't have to wonder who is Oscar and who is Felix, but neither of us has the time or patience to go around doing the white glove test. We manage to keep it sanitary and -- especially after an alarming episode of Hoarders -- we guiltily nudge ourselves into action to disperse recyclables, junk mail and obsolescent electronics to prevent it from devolving into a complete Collyer Brothers situation.

I'm referring more to all the little things about it that I want to fix. The kitchen floor is worn to the point where it never looks clean, the dining room did not come out the color I wanted and the curtains remain on a Certain Party's ironing pile despite a number of hints, subtle and otherwise. The shutters out front were not the right wood for outside and are now coming apart at the seams, literally. Nobody's sure exactly how it is that the furnace continues to function when I think it enjoyed a former life as a boiler on the Mauretania before coming into our employ.

Everywhere I look, I see mismatched, unraveling or scuffed beyond repair. There's never enough time, and there's never enough money, to make it look the way it does in my head. I looked back at old blog posts to see when we got the giant captain's bed (I immediately nicknamed it "the tree fort") thinking we'd get the mattress to fit it the next month. It was Lent, and we're still on the old, too-small mattress.

As I am sure is the case with just about anybody, no matter how much money comes in, there always seems to be someone, or something, that is clamoring for a piece of the pie. We are both lucky to have full-time jobs, me for long enough to have some of the benefits that new entrants to the job market may never see. But that does not make me any less worried about there being enough to get by on during those golden years, which suddenly don't seem so far away.

But by nature of the fact that I'm sitting in a room that doesn't leak, using a computer, had a healthy dinner, and don't have to share either of those items with anybody, I've already got more than 99% of the world's population beat. And if you're reading this, in all likelihood, so do you.

In the midst of my frustration that my little patch of the American dream is not blooming as rapidly as I might like, I was humbled by a beautifully written reminder by my friend, the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton, that my priorities are just a shade off when I fuss about such things. Not that I should need to be told: the headlines and statistics are a daily grim reminder of the suffering that people endure every day. What touched me was the way she articulated her appreciation for something as simple as twilight, which is free for the taking, but yet goes unnoticed by me and every fool who is too busy finding fault with our charmed lives to appreciate all the gifts that surround us.

Telling Secrets: The Universe of the Anawim

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