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Posts Tagged ‘choices’

What Matters?

What matters is the center inside yourself – and how you live, and how you treat people, and what you can contribute as you pass through life on this earth, and how honestly you love, and how carefully you make choices. Those are the things that really matter.

~excerpt from Refusing to be a Man by John Stollenberg

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Women haven’t been given a lot of space in history books, I’ve noticed. The kids and I are listening to The Story of the World on CD every night before bed (thanks Angie) and it’s gotten me to thinking about the way we record which events we think of as important. About who records it, what their bias is, and what we teach our children. What should we aspire to? What makes a life well lived?

For all of the Big Events that we read about, there have been countless smaller ones that were just as important. Just as heroic, just as inspirational, and just as noteworthy. Just not noticed. There are 6 billion or more people on this planet, all with stories to tell, and most of them will never be heard. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could celebrate the courage of the every day choices?

I remember walking through the grocery store shortly after the birth of my fourth child, with the newborn strapped onto my chest, the 2-year old sitting in the shopping cart, the 4-year old hanging off it’s side, and the 7-year old in tears behind me, and hearing a young clerk whispering loudly (that’s an oxymoron!) “SHE must have been desperate for groceries!”. I was tired. The children were disheveled. We were all barely hanging on to our tempers. I WAS desperate for groceries, I had just moved to town, I had no real family support, and I was doing my very best to keep it all together. Just getting through the day back then felt heroic. What about people in refugee camps? People in war zones? It boggles the mind.

In honour of  the unspoken about, the unwritten about, and the often unthought about,  a quote:

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words, it is expressed in the choices we make. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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I was in the grocery store yesterday, walking through frozen foods, and, as usual contemplated buying Pizza Pops, which I know several of the kids, particularly the boys, love. As usual, I almost bought them, and then didn’t. I thought about their orangey faux-tomato filling, and the saturated fats in the crust, and as much as I love my boys, and as much as I love to give them what they want, I didn’t put them in my cart. Same thing with the frozen waffles and Tater Tots.

I think it was mostly fatigue, and my negative frame of mind, but I began feeling irritated with society in general. I extended the Pizza Pops to a metaphor for our culture of immediate gratification, in which we are exhorted to buy, buy, buy. Why not? Why not eat fast food? It’s easy. The kids like it. Why not buy ready-made meals, snack crackers, hydrogenated vegetable oil laden cookies, and prepackaged crap? Everyone else is. It’s easy! The kids love it! Why bother cooking? Why bother baking? Just open up a package of cookie dough and throw it in the oven. Why shouldn’t we have what we want when we want it? We deserve it. If it’s easy, and easily obtainable, and we feel like it, why not?

Sometimes it feels like I’m swimming upstream. It’s all just there, and I have to endlessly explain to the kids why I don’t want them eating this that or the other. I have to consciously set up limits for the amount of candy and chocolate that enter this house unbidden. I limit video games, computer games, and have made the house a no Game Boy/Game Cube/ Wii zone. I endured 2 weeks of bedtime tears when oldest son was seven or so and desperately craved an X-Box. I saw how much TV that T in particular was prone to watching, and got rid of it. My kids don’t have MP3 players, or their own sound systems. They don’t get things just because. Just because they want them, or everyone else has them, or they suddenly have an intense craving for one. I am the pillar of conscientious consumption, and I hold the line. I explain about the effects of packaging in landfills, about green house gases, about the perils of too much stuff. About the advertising industry and it’s insidious agenda. About how we aren’t automatically entitled to what we want. I think, I force the kids to think, and I rail against the greedy, selfish, short-term thinking of our current materialistic culture.

Even writing this makes me feel like an ogre. A fun-sucking, over-thinking griper. Which makes me angry. I’m not the crazy one. The way we’re all being manipulated is crazy. I’m angry that taking a stance against over-consumption and asking questions about doing everything in the easiest way possible makes me the bad guy. I can not be the only person out there that looks around and says….hold it here people…and yet, it feels that way sometimes.

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