In my closet hangs an exquisitely crafted garment designed by the great Ozwald Boateng. I bought it at Boateng's boutique on Saville Row in London. Most days, I partner the suit with a pair of metallic Patrick Cox shoes, bought at Printemps de l'Homme in Paris. It's a killer look. When I strut my stuff in these my Sunday best, people say nice things to me. It makes me feel better about myself. Confident.
I am wrong about the suit. And the shoes. How I've come to know this is something I wouldn't wish upon anybody, but it is a possibility wrapped in a circumstance.
You see, I currently, temporarily, do not have a pot to piss in. Broke. Strapped for cash. Singing the greenback blues.
Now don't get me wrong; my kids won't go hungry. I have a roof over my head. And there is work coming in. But life, as I used to know it, is gone forever.
How did it used to be? Every summer a trip to a sunny locale like the South of France or Barcelona. Golf whenever I wanted. Comfortable car. New clothes. Good restaurants. The Albert Heijn. All without thinking twice about money. Not anymore. This year it'll be a 'stay-cation', a.k.a. a stay at home vacation. As for golf, both Tiger and me are on a hiatus of unknown duration. Shopping? Al fresco fine dining? Nope. Not happening, amigos.
Had you predicted this just one year ago I'd have broken out in a cold sweat. But guess what? It ain't half bad. A blessing in disguise. There is tremendous freedom in not being able to buy anything beyond the essentials. As my hero Todd Snider sings, "watch what you say to someone with nothing, it's almost like having it all."
My point is this: I've been white bread and corn fed for so long, I've forgotten the inherent privilege of luxury. I've forgotten about the value of a Dollar|Euro. Before you go thinking I'm some kind of spoiled trust fund brat, I most definitely am not. But my parents provided me with a life of plenty, and I've never been afraid of a day's work.
So my current economic malaise has caused me to re-evaluate. Re-prioritize. Get my shit together. What have I learned? A simple and priceless lesson; I have never needed what I thought I needed. My Ozwald Boateng suit, exquisite as it is, has nothing to do with clothing. I see now that it's just me saying to the world, "I'm good enough. I'm worthy. I'm significant. Love me." Like a 10 year kid standing next to the soccer field, quietly summoning the courage to ask, "Can I play too?"
My relationship to money has always been about proving my worth, and quieting the nay-sayers. Yes I am good enough. Yes I am appealing. Yes I do have 'good taste'. Yes I can play too. Yes. Yes. Yes. But it has nothing to do with stuff. It is my heart that matters. My being. The man I am. Nothing more, nothing less.
As I steadily extract myself from the hole I'm in, I know this newfound knowledge will serve me well. And even though I'll most surely buy a lovely Boateng suit again, and play golf in exotic destinations, I can promise you this: I will cherish every moment, every luxury like never before.
In the meantime, however, I'll keep buying my cucumbers at the Aldi.