If something was originally priced at $400 and ends up in my closet for $40, what is its actual value? Did it change along the way? Is it all context? And how to make sense of this? That? Anything? And in that making sense context, determine my own value?
Yesterday I was able to purchase a winter coat. The preceding sentence originally included the words “much-needed” between “a” and “winter” — but, compared to many people in the world, I don’t really need anything. I have a very comfortable place to live. Plenty to eat. Plenty to read. I am healthy. So, why have I lived most of my life — including now — terrified about money?
My new coat is a $400 Joseph Abboud lined, wool car-jacket that I got for $40 at Burlington Coat Factory. That I could get it for 1/10th its original price leads to all sorts of questions I would really rather not think about, like, for instance, what “much-needed” means to the person on the other side of my new coat’s “Made in China” label and whether they worry as much as I do about ending up homeless?
Here’s the thing about that. I was trolling the web last night, obsessively checking out apartments in Frederick and the rents begin at $1200 plus utilities. There is no way I will ever be anywhere near able to afford that. Ever. Again. So, I started looking in other cities where I once upon a time thought I might like to live. Holy shit. Burlington, Vermont. Iowa City, Iowa. London, England. All, ridiculous. And, where is the money for that rent going to come from?
I have no marketable skills — and, mind you, I do NOT mean that as in I have no talents, no gifts, but, rather, the things at which I excel and can do (and do do — so to speak) for others, for the world are not things which have resulted in my case in hefty remuneration — or, actually, much remuneration at all. Alas, my gifts, not the least of which are ridiculously embracing and supportive hugs, a sparkling wit and a rare in the modern world level of erudition, plus an unparallelled pop-cultural-trivia-awareness, bring in surprisingly little on the open market. Well, on any market. Despite the fact I was never an actual counselor, I spent decades of my life devoting tens-of-thousands of hours to psychiatric-social work-sessions with needy, troubled people in my various offices and on the phone/via e-mail during all my “careers”. While I might have been (should have been?) doing things for myself that made money, or, even, just used those best, young, brain-on-full-throttle years WRITING — whatever, instead, I was listening to people, propping people up, getting people through, helping people to achieve their dreams, and offering them solace and support in ways that those folks would have had to pay hefty fees to others to do, had they not had me. Me, who, whenever someone came into my office — and many people did on a regular basis — I stopped what I was doing to listen to them, hug them, encourage them, comfort, whatever they needed.
I’m not surprised by how few not only never said “thank-you” but, rather, after finding their strength, or moving on, actually resented me for knowing them when they were weakest. I got that. I still get it. And, too, I was unsurprised by how few — when I needed some hand-holding — just turned away, easily and blithely discarded me. I understood — later — that part of why they trusted me, and part of why I invested so much in being a listener, was that I questioned my place and worth in the world. I came to feel that my real purpose in life was to help others find their Love and Light, to see it in themselves, others, the world.
Funny, in the end, all that encouraging and growing Love and Light, has left me feeling pretty loveless and in the dark. Not to say I am unloved — not at all — I have a handful of wonderful, giving, beautiful people in my life for whom I am incredibly grateful — my sadness is not a reflection on them, but a larger, existential conundrum.
About worth. As in, some people who did much the same things in their lives that I did in mine — only under different guises, wearing different labels — ended up richly rewarded monetarily, relationship-wise, respect-wise. The counseling I did, the child-rearing, the cooking and cleaning, the maintaining, the show writing and creating, the — well, the many things I did — done by others resulted in security: financial and emotional. Spiritual.
No one to blame but me. Not in any way abdicating responsibility for my bad choices. But, still — the conundrum and question — how did the choices I made and the effort I made to try and cultivate Love and Light, how did the encouragement I gave, how did what I did, chose to do, the work I did and shared, land me here, where I am going?
WHICH WAS WHERE? Where was I? Oh, worrying about being homeless. Yes, it often comes with this inventory-taking of “what if I had…” and, well, that gets me nowhere. (See above blathering for proof, lol.) And, it’s too late now. So I terrify myself by shopping on-line for apartments. And while I was looking and dreaming — I find this;
Lauren Bacall’s apartment in the fabled Dakota for sale. TWENTY-SIX MILLION DOLLARS – with monthly maintenance fees of $1100.
Wow. Even the maintenance is too much for me. Ha. That sentence may well become my new motto.
The maintenance is too much for me.
Love and Light, friends. Love and Light?