You Can Buy Happiness

I had gone camping a couple months ago with my girl's friends in Santa Cruz. The guy who had reserved the campsite had chosen well because it had an amazing view of the mountains. There was a good mix of men and women, and we delved into conversation about dating and relationships. So of course they brought up one of the guys my girl had been set up with. I smiled because I wasn't sure where this was going and was curious to see why they hadn't connected.

The guy my lady had been set up with had been in the country for fifteen years and began as a shoe salesman and was still a shoe salesman (the travesty!). My rebel mind leaped up, and I blurted out the question, "What's wrong with that?"

Everyone turned toward me, wondering why I would ask such a question. Keep in mind that spending the night in the wilderness with people that I'd just met, my girlfriend's long time friends, had added a bit of pressure because these people weigh toward the conservative side. And I'm pretty light when it comes to that. Not that I like to run through the streets naked, unless there's money involved.

"The guy has been in the same position for fifteen years!" one of the guys on mary jane exclaimed.

"What if his passion is selling shoes?" I asked.

They pummeled me with statements such as 'What's good about being a shoe salesman?' or 'He's a man, he should be more ambitious.' or 'Can he support a family with that?'

None of the women came to my rescue. Nor did I expect that. But I hadn't expected them to agree with those statements. They did. I should have asked if it was OK being a shoe salesmen and earning a good six-digit income, or being a CEO of your own company that makes little money. Because it seemed like they were linking having a respectable title with earning a high income, which isn't always the case.

I guess I felt a little insecure because I've had my day job for over ten years, don't have any ambition to move up beyond where my current title is because it's just a day job. It funds my passion and pays for my bills. Well, I pay the bills, my day job doesn't really do anything except deposits my paychecks into my back account.

But so many of us are obsessed with showing people that we are doing well. Check out my German automobile. Check out my new iPhone. Check out my spiffy shoes. Check out my new job. Check out my hot girlfriend.

Not my actual girlfriend

Not my actual girlfriend

I had a friend who posted his offer letter from Apple on FaceBook. He didn't even redact his salary. And people were congratulating him, feeding his ego. I wanted to post, "How small is your dick?" But I didn't. It would have been a waste of my ten seconds.

I've had another friend who posted pics of his new car, awards that he's earned, and shopping with his wife at Jimmy Choo. How small is his dick? He's Asian so...

And would it have mattered if that shoe salesman worked at Jimmy Choo?

And why do women love his shoes? The one complaint I've consistently heard is that his shoes are ungodly uncomfortable. I don't know, I don't wear high heels...when people are looking. So why covet Jimmy Choos?

I think part of the reason is that we need people's acceptance, that we think happiness comes from what others think of us. What we really covet deep inside is their approval.

Yesterday, I took my girl to the Renaissance Faire for her first time. I've gone almost every single year since being dragged to it my first time twenty years ago. And there are three things that I must do: eat a dish called Sausage, Bread and Cheese, which has sausage, bread and cheese, watch Stuart Abelman's glass blowing demonstration, a man of true passion, and attend Broon's show.

We went to his last show of the day, and Broon ended it with this (paraphrasing): Look at all of us. There's white people. Black people. Christians. Muslims. Catholics. Republicans. Democarats. For a small moment, we all forgot about all of that and laughed and had fun. It's been my pleasure to have been a part of that because happiness and joy is a natural part of our being.

Appreciate, Don't Depreciate

Black face anyone?

Black face anyone?

In researching and thinking about what people in my fantasy world do, say for fun, I had to hearken back to the days of yore. Not your, nor mine, but yore (woulda worked better verbally). Specifically, the medieval days because technologically that’s where my world relates closest. Being a huge fan of the Renaissance Faire, I get a slight glimpse of a world that once existed. In those times, there wasn’t much to do except follow a craft: glass blowing, blacksmithing, or delve into the arts like painting, sculpting, acting, writing. Plays were huge back then. And the Royal Court was a huge orgy. But if you couldn’t go to those things, then what did people do in those days of yore?

Earth Theater...I mean Globe Theater

Earth Theater...I mean Globe Theater

Aside from all the chores that needed to be done (there were a lot), there wasn’t much. So delving into a craft or an art was ideal, from my point of view. I suppose if I lived in my world, which I do every day, then I’d be a storyteller.

However, today we have access to thousands of things that can entertain us and turn our minds into a pile of mush. Yes, we can dive into a craft or explore an art form, but for most neither of those constitutes making a living. As a result, we watch TV, watch a ball game, a boxing match, go to the pub, hang out with friends, then there’s movies. But I think the biggest luxury came about in 2007: the iPhone.

That's a big iPhone

That's a big iPhone

When I got it as a gift (thanks bro!) it changed my world. I listened to music, lectures, surfed the web a lot more than I did on my computer, played games (most were web games since the app store had yet to exist).

The world changed again. Apple released the iPad.  I told myself, I don’t need an iPad. If the iPad 2 was a massive improvement, then I’d get one. For now, at least, my iPhone was enough.

The iPad 2 came out. I played with it at the store, but was under whelmed. Then my girlfriend at the time gave me one for my birthday (thanks!). Now, I rarely use my computer to surf the web. I carry my iPad with me all the time. I'm an Apple freak!  Ugh. Gawd help me lawd.

Apple just recently announced the iPad Mini. Yeah. A miniature version of the iPad. Clever. A lot of people are complaining that Apple used old technology (based on the iPad 2), that the resolution of the screen is worse than the top competitors, that the pricing is way too high. How spoiled are we when we complain that technology is too old. My iPad 2 is still pretty awesome, despite it being ancient tech. And I’m not even tempted to buy the iPad 4, which apparently is about a thousand times better than what I have. So what?

There are starving children in the world. Children who don’t know when their next meal will come. Where the real enemy is starvation. That is a real problem.

I’d recently watched Gerard Butler in MACHINE GUN PREACHER. Yeah. He’s a preacher who literally carries a machine gun. He plays a real life preacher who dedicates his life to rescuing children in Sudan from being raped, killed and turned into soldiers. I doubt those kids complain about the iPad Mini being old tech.

For most of us who live in the Western world, we should take a moment and appreciate all the wonderful things we have. Sure. There will always be people who have more, who do more amazing things, who seemingly live a better life. But none of those things will make us happier, give us fulfillment, or enrich our lives. Having more stuff, more wealth can definitely enhance your life. Got an iPad 2, but want the best of the best? Then get an iPad 4. Shit. Buy a whole bunch. Just don’t expect it to make you happy.

Excuse me. There's a lemon in my martini

Excuse me. There's a lemon in my martini

Browsing through Facebook, I found a lot of my friends are partying a lot. Unfortunately, most of these events are held at night. I work a day job so the only time I can workout and write is after, during those cool events. So I either forgo the little time I have to write, and sculpt my body into a Chinese God (don’t know if they’re as buff as Greek Gods), or do what I really want. Partying and meeting new people while talking about nonsense was never my thing. So the choice, which was never a choice to begin with, was easy. I may never get published, in the traditional sense. But I do feel lucky that I can write the stories that flutter in my mind.

With the holidays arriving faster than Santa can deliver presents, appreciate all that you have, see that most of our problems aren’t, and enjoy life as it presents itself to us.