Of the items
mentioned above, the most problematic are the catalogs.
We receive no less than 3-5 per day.
I cannot tell a lie! While
my complaint is the weight and waste, Gabby’s beef is that she has
to call every one of these companies to cancel the catalogs.
Though neither one of us knows why we started getting, say,
‘Macramé Madness”, Gabby still has to call the wild and wacky
crafters and justify why she doesn’t want to receive their monthly
“Craptacular” savings magazine (Oops!
Typo! It should read “Craftacular”).
being said, I did find myself quite interested in one catalog that
arrived a few weeks ago. It
is simply titled “Solutions:
Products That Make Life Easier.”
Now THAT’S something I can get into!
I opened to page one, hoping to find numerous products that
would “make my life easier” as promised in the title.
Dog-Poo Absorbing Grass
Exercise substitute pill.
Millennium Edition”: Gives
automatic correct response to wife questions such as “Does
this outfit make me look fat?”
as I leafed through the pages, I couldn’t find a single one of
these products. Instead,
I found a lot of false and misleading advertising.
It was blatant enough to make me want to file a lawsuit.
Heck, if some parent in the Northeast can sue McDonald’s
for making her child so obese that she IS the bottom of the food
pyramid, then I should jump on the bandwagon!
Here are some of the things I found that actually make life harder. The prosecution presents its evidence (and I’m not making
this stuff up):
Rugs ($24.50 each):
These things are little “ruglets” that you place on each
individual step on a flight of stairs. Now you can worry about 73 of these little guys staying in
place, and then wash each one individually when they get soiled.
Or, you can cut down on the washing by telling people to
avoid stepping on them. There’s
nothing upstairs worth seeing anyhow.
Soda Keeper ($5.00):
A clear plastic box to hold your baking soda.
No, you don’t pour the baking soda out of its original box,
you simply set the baking soda box INSIDE the second box, or
“Keeper”, if you will. The
Keeper also has a ventilated lid, so you can keep the open box of
baking soda inside an open plastic box.
Kinda’ reminds me of my last trip to Target where I bought
a bag, and the cashier put it in a plastic bag so I could carry it
out of the store. Am I taking crazy pills?
Clear Plastic Box ($24.50):
And I quote, “Large bulk food container holds up to 22
pounds of cereal” 22
POUNDS! Who needs to
store 22 pounds of cereal!? Apparently
the target market for this catalog is individuals who live in
nuclear fallout shelters. I
am stressing out just thinking about having to eat that much of
ANYTHING, even if it is Cookie Crisp.
The picture in the catalog shows the box filled brim-full
with colorful Trix. When
the cereal is not being eaten, the whole kit-and-kaboodle doubles as
the “Ball Pit” at Chuck-E-Cheese.
Step Ramp w/ Extension ($159.00):
This is a carpeted ramp that you put beside your bed so that
your dog can easily get in and share the covers.
The side of the ramp is hard plastic, perfect for stubbing
toes when you get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
Personally, this item would make my life more complicated.
Such newfound ramp-climbing skills would only encourage my
dog to join the circus. Then,
it’s nothing but sleepless nights hoping he doesn’t run off to
Vegas with the dancing bear or, worse yet, the half-person-half-wolf
lady. $159.00 price
does not include doggie prenuptial agreement or counseling.
threw the catalog into our large-cardboard-box-turned-recycling-bin.
It doesn’t matter if I ever see it again. Whether I do or not is immaterial. I will still pass my days expending my resources trying to
make things easier. Sure,
I laugh at the catalog, but I am a product of my culture.
I may not ever buy an inflatable neck pillow or a specialized
bagel slicer, but there is a small part of me (OK… a LARGE part of
me) that WANTS to have them. Let’s
face it. Life is hard. If I can make it easier for $19.95, then so be it.
fact, as I threw the catalog into our sad excuse for a recycling
bin, I began to feel inferior.
I thought “I’ll bet the neighbors have a really nice
decorative recycling bin.” I
found myself reaching back into the bin to retrieve the catalog,
hoping to find a bin-type item adorned with attractive stars or suns
or moons. Leafing through the pages, I did NOT find such an item.
However, I DID find a
big metal trellis that is used to disguise your recycling bin.
(again, I’m not making this stuff up).
It was in that
moment that I realized that the products in the catalog weren’t
necessarily there to make my life “easier”.
Instead, the products are geared to make my life more
really makes life hard? Is
it my smelly trash can? How
about the static cling in my socks?
Dull, lifeless hair? Nope. What makes life hard is that I make it hard on myself.
listen to all of the people on TV, on the radio, and on the street
who try and convince me that I lack something.
I buy into the idea that more “stuff” will make my life
easier. I start to
believe that my worth is measured by the size and prestige of the
things that I own, or more truthfully, that my credit card company
owns. I try and differentiate myself by buying a new, truly unique
shirt at the store, knowing full well that Old Navy manufactured
about 7,000,000 of them.
mine has white stitching on the sleeve!” I say.
a while, I start believing that my life satisfaction is wrapped up
in increasing my standard of living. I used to drive a 4-year-od Ford Explorer.
So, if I go out and buy an older car worth less money, I am a
failure. I currently
live in a 1500 –square-foot house in a decent neighborhood.
If my next house isn’t bigger or in a better neighborhood,
I am a failure. Most of
all, my life is full of stress, largely due to the fact that I feel
stuck in my job because it’s the only thing that will help me
reach the pinnacle of this mountain I’m climbing.
I’ve never met someone who feels like they’ve made it to the
seen Pampers filled with more promise.
when you were in grade school.
When it came time for sleepovers and play dates, you always
wanted to go visit the kid who had the coolest stuff.
It was fun. My
neighbor was a great friend of mine, and he was also this kid.
In his house were treasures like a Nerf Gun, Slip-N-Slide,
Atari, and an unlimited supply of Slim Jims.
The problem was, when visiting this house, you also knew who
made the rules. Inevitably,
at the end of any game, the rules could be changed by the Keeper Of
The Slim Jim, as it were. You
could be on the cusp of victory in the
game, only to find that the object of the game was to go to the
family room and put on a Village People record.
is making the rules now? After watching TV, reading the paper, and listening to the
radio, I get the feeling that those with all of the shiny junk (who
also own the TV stations, radio stations and newspapers) have
decided that the rule is that you don’t amount to anything unless
you own everything. Coincidentally, they made these rules after they had already
won the game.
question is, “Why does owning all of the TV stations and/or Slim
Jims give someone the right to make all of the rules.”
I get this crazy feeling that we’re all playing this game
of life without knowing the true objective.
We’re trying hard to be successful, but in the end, we’re
gonna’ figure out that the key to it all was something totally
don’t purport to know what the key is, but I feel like I’m
learning that disemboweling stuffed animals ain’t where it’s at.
How do I know? I
see too many signs that we’re all on the wrong path.
I complained that Gabby and I need another car, while 20,000
mothers watched their children die from hunger and preventable
disease – TODAY!
the average new home is about 2300 square feet. In 1950, the average home was 1000 square feet.
Families are smaller these days, so I’m guessing we
need the extra space to hold my collections of singing plastic
fish and coffee mugs.
I actually said, “I need a new guitar” as I was trying to
find space for the three that I already own.
week, the average American spends six hours shopping, and spends
forty minutes playing with his or her children.
Working couples spend, on average, 12 minutes per day
talking to each other.
this seem out of whack to anyone else?
day I hope to meet God and ask all sorts of questions.
Stuff like, “What were you thinkin’ when you made the
platypus?” and “Is Dennis Rodman really one of your children?”
Most of all, I want to get the final answer on how He would
have wanted me to live my life.
There are many times that I feel like I consulted the
Almighty in my decision-making.
“Wow, this new guitar sure is pretty!”
but it’s kind of expensive.”
don’t make a lot of money anymore”
already have three others.”
“You don’t have to rub it in.”
know, God has blessed you with many things.
Health, moderate talent, and a $10,000 credit line with
MasterCard. I’m sure
He would want you to be happy and to have the good things in life!
That’s what He wants for all of his children!
Just buy the guitar! Buy
it for Jesus!”
“You’re right. I’ll
take it! And throw in
the red-velvet-lined case, too!
Jesus would want me to protect His investment.”
The problem is,
during this justification, I wasn’t really talking to Jesus. Instead, I was talking to myself – the self that has spent
far too much time defining what “Success” is.
I have become obsessed with winning the game of selfishness.
Even though this game hurts me and others around me, it’s
no surprise that I am so driven. The tunnel vision is even modeled by the best!
Consider this. A Chicago physician asked 198 Olympic level athletes, “If
you could take a magic pill that would make you win every
competition you were in for five years but at the end of that time
you would die, would you take it?”
Fifty-two percent answered,”Yes.” Scary.
If only we
could redefine success and winning in life and pursue it with the
tenacity of an Olympic athlete.
For instance, what if the goal was not to accumulate the most
the fastest, but rather, to quickly understand “enough”, and
strive to make sure everyone had it.
The ultimate judge would be The Almighty.
I imagine it all looking a bit like the Price is Right.
God would be
the Bob Barker of the Universe, asking us all to get as close to
“enough” as possible, without going over.
Inevitably, in our world, the one who wins would be some
grandma from Pomona named Ethel who bid $1, after she had seen all
of us overestimate how much we really needed to survive.
She would then get to kiss and hug The Big Guy, while the
rest of us were left holding our Year’s Supply of Turtle Wax and
Rice-A-Roni – parting gifts for the overindulgent.
If only we knew what “enough” truly was, and worked hard
to make sure EVERYONE made it to the Showcase Showdown!?
My guess is
that God, my God and your God, probably has an opinion as to where
He would like us to invest the blessings He’s bestowed upon us.
If I were to ask God if I should buy that fourth guitar, He
would probably remember that the Austin Capital Area Food Bank could
feed 2500 people for what it costs to buy that $500 guitar.
While the guitar might make enough kindling to roast three or
four dozen hot dogs, it doesn’t feed 2500 people.
what Jesus’ feeding of the 5000 was all about.
We often see this miracle as some sort of magic trick. I can see the headlines in the Austin American Statesman.
“Bearded Man With Great Abs Turns Two Fish and Five Loaves
Into Enough Food for 5000 People!” Might as well have had just two guitars, eh?
we read In the Bible, it doesn’t talk of magic.
The disciples saw a throng of people gathered to hear Jesus
and learn from him. After
Christ had spoken, the disciples said,
is a very remote place,” they said, “and it is very late.
Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding
countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
thought it only fair to let everyone fend for himself.
aren’t free at the JesusPalooza!
You’re on your own, bro!
give them something to eat.”
said to him, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are
we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
many loaves do you have?” he
asked. “Go and
they found out, they said, “Five – and two fish.”
Jesus directed them to have all of the peoples sit down in groups on
the green grass. So
they sat don in groups of hundreds and fifties.
Taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven,
he gave thanks and broke the loaves.
Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people.
He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up
twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of men who had eaten was five thousand.
(Mark 6: 37-44)
In this entire
passage, there is no mention of Jesus multiplying or adding. No. Jesus divided.
He broke. Mathematically speaking, these are very different.
This feast was not about bread and fish magically appearing.
No, the miracle was that a small amount of resources, equally
shared, could satisfy so many.
What will it
take to satisfy me? What
is “enough” for me? Will
I share my abundance?
God is asking
me these same questions. God
is challenging me – is challenging all of us -
to live the simple life.
It is not a life of ease.
Rather, it is a life that seeks ease the burdens of others to
assure that we all live with dignity.