Excess vs abundance: 5 things, 5.12.2016

1. I love that we’ve made it to December. I love being able to wear my snuggly alpaca cowl-neck and woolly socks, lighting a fire, opening the kids’ advent calendar. And most of all I love introspecting and preparing for 2017. I’m trying not to think about what the year might bring globally – 2016 was about as much as I can take. But on a personal level things are looking up. I’m closing the year with a new job, possibly two (fingers crossed), a successful launch for Lost in the Woods, plenty more designs in the works and a few small but fun and useful recurring freelance gigs. My 2017 plans give me quite a lot to be getting on with. This is all wonderful, and exciting, and just a tiny bit overwhelming.

2. If everything I have applied for pans out, I will, frankly, be hopelessly overworked. I don’t cope well with that kind of overcommitment – I find it extremely stressful and perform rather below par. But sometimes you just have to suck it up, right? It’s not possible to control the timing of opportunities. So if two part-time jobs will be the right thing for me come August, when Pumuckl starts kindergarten, but the jobs are on offer right now… that means being ready to work overtime right now. If the possibility of collaborating on something cool is available right now, and that would move my long-term goals forward… that means being ready to knuckle down and do it. And it’s all so much easier to face when I do have that firm horizon of August in front of me, when things will get fairly reliably easier. 

3. It does bring certain questions into focus, though. Questions like: what’s enough, and what’s too much. I’ve spent years being frustrated about not having suitable work. It’s amazingly wonderful to now have a sense that yes, there are things I can do here in Switzerland, I can get a picture of my career future and it’s really rather promising. I like working on lots of different things, that’s satisfying for me, and now I maybe possibly have lots of different things to work on. From scarcity to abundance. But how much can I actually handle? When does abundance become excess?

4. We had dinner in a very fancy house this weekend and were given the full tour. (Is this a Swiss thing? I don’t expect to be shown around, bedrooms and bathrooms and all, in the home of someone I don’t know very well, but since they offered…) Including the dressing room. Lovely to have a dressing room! Lovely to have an extensive wardrobe, I guess, and lots of space to arrange it! But… how many pairs of similarly cut trousers in black or cream does one woman need? I don’t want to judge. I’m totally judging, but I don’t want to. I do feel deeply uncomfortable with this level of consumption, though. There is such a thing as Too Much and I guess it’s good to be reminded of that. I don’t actually like the idea of having Too Much. There’s a house for sale in our village – a lovely house, not flashy, but spacious and well located, with a view – for Fr3.5m. Now, once you go above our budget, basically any price is just a number to me. Some houses are expensive! Sure! But it occurred to me that even if I won ONE MILLYUN POUNDS, that would still be completely out of reach. Which is a bit breathtaking. It’s just a nice house in our neighbourhood. And yet. 

5. With Christmas looming I’m very conscious of how our kids have too much stuff. Pretty much all the kids I know have way too much stuff. It’s in the nature of kids to always want more, and it’s in the nature of parents to want to treat them, so we (sometimes) do that and then grandparents and friends do that and there are free giveaways at the supermarket and… omg all the stuff. It’s ludicrous. Things have become so cheap nowadays (in price if not in actual environmental and social cost), there’s just so much stuff. They have all these soft toys, for instance, filling up toy boxes and getting forgotten so they don’t even know what they have, and they keep seeing more stuff and so they want more. We try not to succumb. We try to teach them about responsible consumption, and appreciating what you have, and not wasting resources. But there’s this avalanche of STUFF. 

Too much.

I am as greedy as anyone. I want nice things. I want time and comfort and fun and prettiness and luxury. I want money. I do. But there is definitely such a thing as Too Much. It’s funny how I can have this powerful aversion to Too Much (work, money, stuff), and still always want more. I’m pondering.

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