Sunday, March 15, 2009

Going, Going, GONE

Yesterday I went to WalMart and bought a new vacuum. Now, I realize that to a lot of people this is an absolutely petty and pointless thing to blog about. It really isn't though, it's kind of a big deal.

When I got there I wasn't really sure what I wanted (essential criteria: good vacuum that doesn't cost a fortune), but the price tags on the selections helped me narrow down my options pretty quick. The first one I looked at was the UberSuperTurbo Pet Hair Vac. It had all the bells and whistles, including a magic wand that somehow de-statics your carpets for easier cleaning. I don't know a mom on the planet that couldn't use a magic wand.

It had all sorts of other features that I wasn't even aware came in a vacuum, but the most unimpressive feature was the price tag. I was having a hard time believing that all these cutting edge vac functions were really worth paying twice as much for in this vac, than you'd pay for the regular vac. So I quit looking at that one and looked at the choices in the "reasonable price tag" category. I ended up settling for the same brand I have now, just an updated version of it. Ironically, while it's the same vac I bought 4 years ago, it was $40.00 less yesterday, than it was 4 years ago. I'm not really sure how that worked out this way, but it did and I felt like I got a really good deal.

All that to say, the blessing of being able to just go to a store and buy something like this, is nothing short of incredible. I know that people go out every day and spend all kinds of money on all kinds of things, but this really isn't what it's like for most people in the world. It's not even what it's like for me, most of the time. Just two months ago we weren't even sure how we were going to meet the rent. Going out and spending money on a home appliance wasn't even something we would have begun to consider.

Here in North America we are so astoundingly blessed, and we totally miss it most of the time. Consider for a moment how blessed we are to be able to go out and buy a simple thing like a vacuum:

• To do so, implies you have a home to clean, with a carpet.
• You have a reliable vehicle, with enough money to buy gas, to get you to the store.
• You have enough money that after all the debts are met for the month, that you can spend the extra it on such things.

Why is that significant? Simply because most people around the world would truly consider those things living like royalty. You have a carpeted home and more than enough money for a car, fuel, and various extras?? Here in North America these things are considered normal, and I suppose most of us have never expected anything less in our thoughts of what "normal" living is like. House, carpet, car, vacuum... these are all common things for us.

Things are changing for us here in North America though. More and more of us are learning what it's like to go without. Some people are losing jobs, retirement funds, homes, and selling what they can to downsize and learn how to live on less. It's not an easy transition for a lot of people because they've never really known anything different.

Just yesterday I read an article in the local newspaper of my hometown that mentioned one of the most beloved state parks in my home county, is on the list of probable parks in the state of WA to be mothballed (meaning they'll shut the gates, close the public washrooms and turn off all utilities) to save money. With the gates closed the parks will be open to foot traffic only, and routine cleanup and care would be the responsibility of community volunteer crews. When I read that, I felt a real sense of sadness that the park I grew up playing in, the park we had 4th of July celebrations in every summer, the park I have such amazing childhood memories in, might be shut down due to the economic climate we're all dealing with. In the grand scheme of things it's just a park and we'll all go on with our lives, but it's yet another one of those blessings that has probably been taken for granted by a lot of folks for a long time. I know it's never once crossed my mind that this state park might someday not be there for locals to enjoy.

Blessings taken for granted? Overly-blessed with things I don't even need, never use, and have no place to put in the first place? I take a look around my house and I see more of those than I care to admit. Things, and stuff, and more things that sit here, are stacked there, and taking up space over there. Bottom line is, I have too much stuff where others don't have at all. I'm determined to downsize our Stuff Inventory, and take it all to the local Goodwill.

All that, from buying a vacuum. I can't imagine what's going to happen when I finally break down and buy my external hard drive and a UPS that I so desperately need.

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