Saturday, February 23, 2008

The revolution will be slow

The older I get, the more responsibilities I have.

The more responsibilities I have, the more pressed for time I become.

And so it logically follows that because I’m in such a hurry, I am slower and more meticulous than I’ve ever been before.

It’s not that advanced aged has slowed me down, it’s just that if there’s one thing I don’t have time for as an adult, it’s an avoidable hassle.

Avoidable hassles include things like inconsequential fender benders that eat up precious hours, banking mistakes and unpaid parking tickets that must be amended in person, hastily purchased items that must be returned and even keys that take ages to find after they are casually tossed aside.

When I was young there was something almost romantic about lurching from one glorious hassle to the next. Stumbling blindly through life and dealing with whatever consequences I couldn’t avoid at the last possible moment made me feel like a free spirit, operating above the silly conventions that bound all the pitiable grown-up wage slaves out there.

Parking tickets were tossed out with a flourish and disappeared into the ether and bills were paid in my own good time. Regular automobile maintenance struck me as bourgeois and filing my taxes on time? Wasn’t that just admitting that I was working for The Man?

Unfortunately it took many years before I realized that being a Bohemian in the moment means sacrificing huge amounts of time, energy and money in the future. With the onset of maturity came the sobering revelation that each and every one of us has to deal with The Man. Unless you plan to live in a hut somewhere and forage nuts and berries, you will be forced to play along with most of society’s rules and ignoring them does not make them go away.

I have learned, in fact, that quite the opposite is true. You have to learn the rules before you can break or bend them and that’s why each passing day I find myself becoming more careful and more meticulous. I’m not acquiescing to the The Man, I’m figuring him out: he’s a necessary evil and dealing with him in the proper fashion the first time will limit future exposure.

My own small rebellions these days look very different from those I staged in the past. I used to throw away parking tickets: today I avoid them by not only paying for parking, but using my credit card to do so, even if it’s only $1. Why should I scramble for change when I could be earning points?

I used to drive like a maniac and never worry about whether my car would break down until it inevitably did at the worst possible time: now I creep serenely past cars that have ended up in the ditch during snow storms, secure in my reliable and well-maintained vehicle.

I used to wait ages to file my taxes and not have a clue what I was doing. Now I make sure they are filed promptly and in a manner that ensures no government bureaucracy will ever benefit from my procrastination or ignorance.

In the past I waited way too long to pay my bills and ignored the resulting calls I got from financial institutions. Now I pay promptly and accept the bank’s ridiculously low introductory interest rate offer. What can I say? I get an illicit thrill from enjoying their money at 1%, reading all the fine print and then paying it back at the last possible second to avoid fees: it’s called beating The Man at his own game.

I have learned that The Man gets ever-more rich and powerful on the backs of silly young Bohemians who think they’re being rebellious by rushing through life and racking up charges on unpaid bills and parking tickets they’ve ignored.

I have learned that bureaucratic insurance companies prosper thanks to fast and careless drivers and fat-cat retailers will continue to flourish until we all slow down and think about which products really provide value for our money.

So those young Turks out there charging about can roll their eyes all they want as they race by me on the freeway of life.

Because my time is way too precious for me to be in a hurry.

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46 comments:

Brittany said...

A-M-E-N!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

And if you figure out a way to explain that to teenagers, that would be great.

sky girl said...

You rock, DMD.

:)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

My Dad, the most notorious Hippie I know, figured this out at about 55. Now he rails against his grandson who is throwing away money on fines for unpaid traffic tickets. Cracks me up.

LunaNik said...

Shit...I'm still a silly Bohemian.

I think I just got learned.

Family Adventure said...

I love the last line.

Heidi

Laura said...

so true...what a powerful post. Our time is too precious and our lives are to precious and the lives of our little ones.

thanks for sharing.

InTheFastLane said...

It is hard being an adult when you really just want to stick it to the man, but have figured out it is better to be responsible. Sigh. I have to find little ways to manifest my rebellion.

John-Michael said...

I absolutely LOVE your "there was something almost romantic about lurching from one glorious hassle to the next." How marvelously said!

You expressed in that one wonderfully concise phrase all, that several whom I periodically serve as "mentor" to, are constantly beset with. Well done!

You are not only gifted with a delightful intellect, but a magical creativity and a healthy dose of FUN.

Thank you for an enjoyed moment.

emily said...

I love what you wrote and how you wrote it. What a great lesson to share so eloquently!

And I feel like I have taken 8 of the 10 steps to get there :)

Dawn said...

I'm so glad I'm past those Bohemian days myself. You wrote this so well. I want to save it for my kids so they can benefit from your wisdom when they get to that age where they need it.

Melissa said...

Don't you love the knowledge you gain as you grow older? Maybe I should say grow wiser.

Hetha said...

That last line says it perfectly. (and I think we should be teaching these lessons to kids while they're still in high school, especially since the credit card companies go after these kids as soon as they turn 18)

Someone Being Me said...

I agree. I find the best way to stick it to the man is to work the system not ignore the system. I pay for everything on my credit card and pay it off monthly so with all my points the man is actually paying me. We saved 2 years for the 20% downpayment on our house so we wouldn't have to pay the man PMI and we waved escrow. Our friends let the man pay their taxes and homeowners insurance and collect interest on it while I set mine in a bank account and earn my own interest. I take great pride in sticking it to the man in my own fiscally conservative little way.

Corey~living and loving said...

oh my yes....great post.
have a good day.

newduck said...

This is so, so true. I have a friend who's nearly 50 years old and just now "coming onto the grid." (After basically foraging for nuts and berries for 50 years). Even he admits that it feels good.

GoMommy said...

If I only knew then what I know now...

ewe are here said...

Yes yes yes.

I agree that this is the way to go wholeheartedly.

Dee said...

you said that beautifully!

zoom said...

My favourite line is this one: "you will be forced to play along with most of society’s rules and ignoring them does not make them go away."

Exactly true. You have to pay extra for the illusion of ignoring them.

Excellent post.

Life As I Know It said...

So true!
Some days, though, I miss my early days of irresponsibility and hippiness...

jennwa said...

Everything you said was exactly right, it is a shame it takes some of us so long to figure them out.

slouching mom said...

Yes, yes, and yes.

I completely agree.

b*babbler said...

Oh, DMD. I could have written just this (but only not nearly as eloquently!)

Karen said...

I've never given it thought before, but it's so true. I think it's something that happens instinctively to parents.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

How perfectly true and what a great reminder. Thanks DMD!

Kellan said...

This is where that line "Live and Learn" fits in - right? I am a lot slower and more meticulous than I ever was in my youth too - it does come with age and with children! Take care - Kellan

Wendi said...

Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog the other day. I am finally getting around to "visiting".
Love this post. I think you said it well... and hind sight is 20/20!

painted maypole said...

this is a great perspective. i feel pretty strongly in agreement with you on the whole parking ticket late bills thing (always have, because I'm CHEAP, and I'd rather drop in an extra quarter or two than pay a ticket!) but the tossing aside of my keys? really a lesson I need to learn.

Huckdoll said...

Word, sista!!

wheelsonthebus said...

Oh, yes. This I have learned. I have friends who always think we should be more spontaneous, but we have so much more time and money to enjoy things because we plan carefully.

mamatulip said...

Yup. Couldn't have said it better myself.

desperate housewife said...

This is pretty much how I feel, spot on. You can fight the system all you want, but it's like fighting gravity at this point. The best thing to do is play along and make it work for you, not against you.

OHmommy said...

The last line.... perfection!!!

Hey. Kelland told me you are going to blogher. Email me at classychaos@gmail dot com and maybe we can bunk? Our stilletos would look so cute next to each other. What do you think?

Joanna said...

Very true. Too bad my parents are reverting to childhood.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Angie said...

This is one of the best posts I have read in a while. I LOVE IT! I just summarizes maturity, enlightenment and submission all at once. "being Bohemian in the moment" - one of the best lines I have ever read. Your writing is intriguing, insightful, mesmerizing. Thanks for visiting my blog. I am adding your enjoyable blog to my ever-growing reader.
KEEP BELIEVING

david mcmahon said...

So many universal truths in that post. You're so right about not hurrying for anyone. Good on ya.

Jen said...

I love this post. You are a mama after my own heart.

Take care!
Jen

Teachin' this mommy new tricks! said...

So very very true!!!!!!!!!!!

Anne said...

So true... I was a bohemian speed demon too. :-)

JCK said...

I SO relate!!! This made me laugh and nod along.

Karen MEG said...

Isn't that the truth!!! I love that imagery of young turks racing on the freeway of life. You've got such a wonderful way with words!

I got so busy this past couple months with work and the holidays etc. I forgot to pay my credit card; I looked at it, highlighted certain expenses and then forgot to pay it... d-uh-oh!!! Big time interest. Not the stuff of mature me, the irritating customer who always (usually) pays her bill on time.
It sure is expensive to be irresponsible.

forgetfulone said...

Now I'm singing "Listen what the man says," from Paul McCartney. Anyway, great post. Very true observations. Enjoyed this post.

Momma said...

So true, so true! My now-adult children can scarcely believe I was ever so "bohemian," as you say, but I think we all go through it. Like you, my time is far too precious now to squander it by showing how "cool" I still am.

Wonderful post! I found you through David McMahon at authorblog.

Peace - D

kittenpie said...

That's pretty funny. Me, I was always cautious and practical, even as a kid, but it's nice to see the other people joining me so I can stop feeling like the only boring person on earth!

Chantal said...

I like what you have to say :)