October 13, 2004 by Allen George
Some months ago Allister, Geoff and I discussed how we usually spent our ‘free’ capital. In column A we had (drum roll) material goods and in column B, we had (rimshot) travel. If I remember correctly Allister said that he preferred spending on material goods, Geoff on travel and I on…?
I couldn’t tell you what my answer was on that day. Call it a hole in my memory. A void. A singularity.
Whatever you call it, the result is still the same. If you were to ask me that question now, I’d hesitate in answering.
And why is that? After all, I love traveling. The idea of experiencing new events, trying different activities, the delicious disorientation from being lost in a new culture – an explosion of newness to refresh you. So many memories… Having traveled a bit (though mostly with my family) my answer should have been simple, no?
Unfortunately, life is rarely simple. I have debts to pay off (thank you Government of Ontario) and material possessions I desire. High on this list is a laptop – I’d like to actually be mobile for once. A camera – something with more than a few limited manual controls. And more that’s not material – other ‘things’ I’ve been planning but have always put off. At some point you have to step back and accept that you simply can’t have everything you want. And that can be hard. It can be a very long, disappointing list.
I wonder if inside me a petulant voice screams, rejecting this idea. If so, I’ve long since drowned it out. Maybe that’s the greatest lesson life teaches us – acceptance. To live with the choices and events we can’t influence. To accept that unlike the Coke C2 commercial, we really can’t get all we want. To realize that our choices cascade onwards.
Its not all doom and gloom of course. For example, just because I can’t buy a laptop this term (or last term, or the term before that…) doesn’t mean I’ll never buy a laptop. It’s time will come. After all – there are always laptops available. What is tough though, are those opportunities that come with limited lifespans. Make a choice now – quick! Whoops – too late – all gone!
That’s when your mastery of the zen-like state of acceptance is truly put to the test.