I watched the movie “Blue Jasmine” the other day. Normally, I don’t enjoy watching movies that have a lead character that I couldn’t stand to be around, but this one was a little different. The story involved a character named Jasmine who moves to San Francisco after her life as a New York socialite collapses. She finds out her husband is having multiple affairs. He also is running massive fraudulent business, her son runs away, and then her husband commits suicide while in prison. She leaves for the west coast to move in with her adopted sister and two kids, who are not as attuned to the finer things in life as she is.
I don’t like Jasmine because she’s so concerned with status and societal image. I just have never understood that culture. I don’t get why you need to “Keep up with the Jones” or anything like that. I don’t get throwing dinner parties for people you don’t even like, just so you can show off all the stuff you have. It’s probably good I no longer live in a big-time eastern city. (Though it probably happens all the time in Minneapolis.)
I just don’t feel like i need to show off things that i have. I like to earn the respect and love of people whom I care about, and nobody else matters really to me. I like to dress nicely and I’m against wearing pajama pants in public, but I don’t understand the need to say what label you’re wearing. I like shopping at outlet stores and wearing things that are comfortable that I got for a good price.
I have a theory that most of our economic and environmental problems can be traced to the fact that human beings purchase too many things for reasons they can’t really explain. That’s why I have trouble picking out souvenirs. I have to go through a rigormoroll of asking myself whether I really need something or what I’ll use it for or if it will just end up in my desk or closet three months later. It stresses me out to go through that whole thing, but I’ve probably saved a lot of money from doing just that.
Jasmine continually criticizes her sister’s choice in taste (or passive-aggressively puts it down) in design, food, and men, when the sister is really somewhat content with her life. I wish we could let people be and not put this pressure on each other to put out an image of wealth or happiness. I find myself happiest when I am surrounded by my least amount of stuff. I mean it’s okay to have your indulgences, but I have a feeling that a speed boat probably wouldn’t make me happy right now. (Or probably ever, those things are too much work.)
This is a weird line to toe. On one hand, I don’t want to criticize people’s purchasing habits, you should be allowed to purchase things that make you happy, but on the other hand, I wish more people would just focus on those things and not worry about projecting an image of wealth with what you purchase. Is there a hashtag for this?
My mind came up with the Gospel story of the woman who gives her last two coins to the poor, even though she is poor herself, where some other men donate much more than she does. The men tell themselves that they are better citizens, but Jesus says they weren’t because the woman gave everything, where the men just gave a little bit.
Give everything, don’t worry about what other people think of you. Life’s too short to let other people scrutinize your happiness.