Wednesday, December 07, 2011

from PsyBlog: the advice of a stranger---plus a little personal holiday time reflection

http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/12/the-impressive-power-of-a-strangers-advice.php

... in other words, when it comes to spending money on things you don't need there's something to be said for assessing the reactions of others before you drop your hard-earned cash (or maybe the not-so-hard-earned cash, too).  Even when I was gainfully employed I tended to take this approach.  Did I think I wanted a CD?  Wait for it to hit the library and then, literally, check it out.  Did I want to watch a movie?  I'd read reviews and ask friends.  If a critic ripped on Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins and I knew that critic also happened to love, say, Robert Altman movies, then I knew I'd want to see the movie. If, say, Jeffrey Overstreet here in the Seattle region gave it a good review then I'd consider checking it out because (full disclosure) Jeff and I went to the same school and travelled in some overlapping social circles. 

There's not many things to buy that you need to buy so badly you don't do a bit of research on the things first.  If you could buy it now there's no reason not to wait a while and buy it later.  You might even find you didn't want it that badly.  But I've written about this before, somewhere here.  Still, it's worth repeating.  If it's not rent ... or a bill ... or a mortgage ... or something like that then there's a decent chance you don't "really" need it that bad. 

The Christmas season is upon us and there will be diatribes about "consumerism" and "materialism".  Do I want stuff for Christmas?  Oh yeah!  I'd like, um, a steady job (with medical, vision, and dental benefits if possible).  I'd like my recently operated on left eye to not need surgery ever again and to not get secondary cataracts or a retinal detachment!  I know who to consult on that one, don't worry.  What else ... I suppose toothpaste and shampoo might be cool but I'm decently stocked on that for now.

But meanwhile I have been the recipient of such kindness and generosity from family and friends that I don't really "need" much by way of conventionally conceived presents.  Time with family and friends is more precious than stuff.  I don't say that as though it were some pious claptrap or cliche!  When you've got no job, very limited money, and eyesight up until recently hobbled by a giant cataract in addition to not naturally having had good eyesight you can discover how tiny your horizons can be!  I'm grateful that due to the generosity of family and friends I have a roof over my head, that my housemates help me keep warm, that I still have food stamps so that what little money I have goes straight to rent, that my lenders have been gracious with me as I have kept them in the loop about my employment situation, that the local Lions Club stepped in and mercifully paid for a cataract removal surgery I could not possibly afford!  That my retinal specialist has been generous with his time and resources to help make sure my eyes can get checked up on despite my pathetic employment situation. 

There are so many people I can be thankful to in the midst of this very rough patch of my life that I couldn't possibly repay them literally or in my gratitude. Maybe I could write some symphony or something ... but I don't write symphonies.  There's not really a piece of music I write that could properly thank them all.  Some of them have helped me in ways where their help is anonymous so I actually CAN'T thank them in any setting but this one.  So I do, at least, want to thank them here, if by some chance they know that this is where I do a lot of my blogging. 

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