A Little Goes a Long Way

Happiness consists not in having much, but in being content with little.    –Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington

My youngest daughter and I have spent the past three days in New York City; it was her “senior trip.” We saw two plays and one musical: The Best Man, Newsies, and Seminar. We ate pizza and Cake Boss cupcakes. We walked between 40-50 blocks each day, and we did a lot of “window shopping.” All in all it was an outstanding trip.

One particular memory of this trip will stay with me for a long time. First of all, you have to understand that I LOATHE shopping. I have a difficult time making a decision that involves parting with my hard-earned cash, and I have absolutely no fashion sense. My dear daughter, however, has excellent fashion sense, absolutely no qualms about spending my money, and a keen love of shopping. The first day we took a little trip up Fifth Avenue. We stopped at a few of her favorite stores to gaze at the goods, and then we hit the motherlode–the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store. We took the escalator to every floor, stopping at the shoe department for a walk through. I don’t think I saw a pair of shoes in the place for under $300. It was a real eye-opener.

My take on shoes is that they are among the few things I prefer to buy new, I like good quality, and I want something that is basic and comfortable. I’ve been in the market for a new pair of black leather flats for awhile, as my current pair are decidedly ratty looking (after three re-heel visits to the cobbler and miles of wear). My dear daughter, on the other hand, could have given Imelda Marcos a run for her money for the shoe queen title.  Her philosophy is that the right shoe looks good on any body style. You don’t have to be an anorexic stick to look good in a pair of Jimmy Choos or Christian Louboutins. Plus, she’s only 5’3″ so she can wear heels that would make the average person dizzy–and she does, and she looks doggone good in them. So cruising the Saks shoe department was for her something akin to dying and going to shoe heaven, albeit in her case it was more like being Lazarus at the gate of the rich man’s house calling out for even a lowly sale pair of Steve Maddens.

Of course we left empty-handed. On the ride back down she whispered to me, “I have never felt so poor in all my life.” I’ll admit I understood where she was coming from with this confession. It’s interesting to view life from another perspective, and since I’m usually so focused on issues of simplicity and justice the trip through Saks gave me plenty of food for thought. Our family ranks in the top 1% of the worlds richest people, according to the Global Rich List, and yet here I was feeling like Grannie Clampett in my eight year old black leather boots, resale shop jeans, secondhand pashmina scarf, and bargain outlet jacket.  Perspective is everything (or pretty close to it), I suppose.

Now that I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on the event, I am so thankful that I have reached a place in life where I am quite content with a little and have no desire to have more. More importantly, I’ve learned that my “little” is true abundance for most of the world’s population. The fact that I could even take my daughter on this trip reflects how fortunate we are–yes we got a great hotel deal, we got our tickets at the half-price booth for two of the three shows, and we didn’t eat at any fancy or even moderate restaurants–but this was still a trip that most children will never have, much less the opportunity to receive a free public education and graduate from high school. Yes, a little goes a long way, and that is good enough for me.

My hope and prayer is that my child will grow to see that she is not poor at all but among the luckiest people on earth. As for me, next time I need a reality check, I’ll just go on-line to Saks and take a cyber cruise through their shoe offerings. That should do nicely to remind me to give thanks for all of life’s blessings–particularly the intangibles ones.

P.S.: I did find a new pair of black flats. They were a little more than I had hoped to pay, but they’re all leather and have the daughter stamp of approval (meaning at least my feet won’t be fashion failures for awhile). Plus, by the time I get through with these shoes their cost will be mere pennies per wear. Oh, and dear daughter went home happy, too, with a fashionable (and mom-approved-value) pair of black boots.

Note: The Lent 40/40/40 Challenge will return once I’m back at home and unpacked. For now, suffice it to say I am thankful for precious time with my baby girl who will soon be off to college and thankful for a spouse who is supportive of my taking off with her on this Broadway lark/girl party. I’m also thankful to my oldest daughter for depositing us at the train station and retrieving us. This trip was truly a family affair.

Photos by William Hawkins,  and Jerine Lay used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

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