Sunday, September 25, 2011

Invisible Fence.

The other day Mrs. C & I were out. I looked in a store window and saw a jacket I liked and immediately I thought up half a dozen reasons why I couldn't have it. Excuses like, "It was too expensive," or "I shouldn't even think about buying new cloths until I get another job," or "You already have a jacket! Sure, the zipper's broken but it could still do the job."

Then I walked away. Before I even pointed it out to my wife, I had already argued myself out of it and we continued on our way without her ever knowing. And the truth is, I was right. Any one of those reasons was valid. Money is tight right now and I can't be careless of selfish with my spending. I'd get those things when things got better. But then I realized that I had been saying that too for quite a few years.

"You can't have it now. You will when things are better."

How many opportunities have I passed up in my life because I kept waiting until the stars aligned and there were no consequences to worry about? Saying to myself that I'd get what I wanted "when the time was right" was like one of those invisible fences that your dog couldn't see, but just knew was there. Some imaginary barrier that he couldn't cross when, in fact, all he had to do was just walk right through it.

To be honest - depriving myself, waiting for 'the right time' - this has been my way of doing things for a very long time. I learned to have low expectations of certain things growing up. As a child, things started out pretty good for us at first. Poppa C was employed with the government in a supervisory capacity. Added to that, he had just started his own business on the side. He opened a video club - back when video cassettes were all the rage in home entertainment. And business was good.

We had money. What also helped was that we were living rent free in a relative's home while they lived in the US. We went to the malls to go shopping every weekend. We always got new clothes, a big colour TV (a big deal here in T&T back in the early 80's), furniture and endless toys for us kids. Our cupboards and fridge never went empty. Life was good.

Unfortunately, things took an about turn when he decided to leave his very secure government job to focus full-time on his booming business. Soon afterwards, it tanked. I was too young to really remember the reason it did but all I know is the entire thing came crashing down faster than any damage control could fix. After struggling for a few years trying to eek out an income from the remnants of the club, my father returned to his government job. Well, not exactly. He got a job. But he wasn't supervisory anymore. He had to take an entry level position with significant less pay and minimal benefits.

Then that relative in the US decided to return home soon after that so we had to find a place to live. Now there was rent to think about too.

And so, the tides turned. Children who were always accustomed to hearing 'Yes' had to learn to take 'No' and like it. Though I was still very young when all of this started happening, I was still the oldest. I understood the situation enough to know sacrifices would have to be made. I learned to deny myself for the greater good.

At least until things got better again someday...

Years later, I've allowed that same mentality to show up in my own adult life. So much so that, even when we were doing relatively well, I still had a tiny pang of guilt whenever I indulged in something. If something went wrong I would blame myself for not being more responsible. And if things didn't go wrong, then I'd tell myself that if I waited long enough, eventually it would. Because I took a chance. Because I couldn't wait until everything was perfect.

Now I know better, of course. Situations are never going to be 'perfect'. The right time can pass you by a million times over and you'd always miss it because you let that invisible fence of fear keep you from stepping forward. Sometimes, you just have to have faith.

I don't plan on becoming careless or reckless, but I think I'm going to say 'Yes' to myself a little bit more from now on. And try not to make myself regret it.


  1. Maybe Santa Claus will get it for you come Christmastime?

    Or, you know, just do it.

  2. @ Lost: I think I may have faster results relying on Santa.

  3. I really like your toon announcement, but it wasn't boring.

    Why is it that we feel that the only way to "treat" ourselves is to buy stuff?

    Do you want or need the jacket?

  4. I agree. I opened up a very good bottle of wine the other evening because there is no better time to drink it with the person I love.

    I ditto Ant's question, is it a need or a want? Our income reduced 67% so now we ask ourselves that question daily.

  5. @ AC: I enjoy the simple things that are usually cost free, myself. A few things here & there are nice but I don't find 'comfort' in acquiring things.

    @ Nubian: That sounds like an excellent reason to me.

    In this case, a little of both. I find I tend to do this for the needs & wants in life.

    @ prateek s: Thanks.

  6. Saying yes to yourself whenever you can IS for the greater good.

    Waiting for the right time often results in being your being too late.


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