Monday, December 7

How much would you save?

The other day, I needed some cheering up, and so Tim threw on some Margaret Cho stand-up for me. It did the trick, even if she is brutal at times.

I will always love Margaret Cho because she's unflinching. Not everything she says is golden and hilarious, but the stuff she does get right is memorable beyond belief. More than that, she's fearless about being honest. She holds her guts up to the world and, if we want, she'll offer us a microscope for a better view.

She talks about her completely messed-up body image, about substance abuse, self-hatred, sexuality and other issues that really shouldn't be funny at all. But she pulls it off. And here is one of my favorite rants of hers:

So from the age of 10, I became anorexic, and then bulimic, and then stayed that way for about 20 years, until one day I just said, "Hey, what if this is it? What if this is just what I look like and nothing I do changes that? So how much time would I save if I stopped taking that extra second every time I look in the mirror to call myself a big fat f---? How much time would I save if I just let myself walk by a plate-glass window without sucking in my gut and throwing back my shoulders? How much time would I save?" And it turns out I save about 97 minutes a week. I can take a pottery class.

Okay, it's funny. But it's also painfully accurate. This quote made me realize just how rare a thing it is in this society to accept yourself as is. You're always supposed to be getting better. You're always supposed to be working toward something. But maybe instead you could just make a vase for Mother's Day.

All well and good, but I suppose I ought to tie it to this blog, eh?

Any money situation creates plenty of questions. But for the purposes of this post, I'm going to go general. Whether you have savings and still don't feel safe; whether you are still in debt and are obsessed with getting out; whether you are underwater on your house. The question is the same:

How much more could you enjoy life if you stopped centering everything on money? (FYI, I'm addressing this to myself, as much as any of you.)

What if every waking moment weren't consumed by thoughts of how to increase your savings account or your credit card payment? What if you could stop berating yourself for past financial choices? What if you could let yourself accept that nothing is certain in life and we can never be completely prepared? What if you could stop always putting off happiness today for security tomorrow?

How much time and energy would you save? How much frustration, stress and sorrow could you avert? How many more happy memories could you make?

And a PS to anyone out there suffering from depression:

What if we all just stopped listening to that Greek chorus in our heads? You know, the one that says we're not good enough, thin enough, smart enough, pretty enough. What if we just started disagreeing?

What if one day, we just started telling ourselves, "No! That's it! You know what? I'm fine! I'm not bad. Not awful. Not unlovable. I'm fine!" I wonder how much time we could save, not hating ourselves. Not shrinking away from some criticism we imagine we see in other people's eyes.


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