A few nights ago my husband and I were up late channel surfing. We came across a TV show called “Til Debt Do Us Part.” How often does it happen that you hit the very beginning of a show when you’re surfing the air waves? Clever, provocative title. We watched it.
I couldn’t help, along with the rest of the audience probably, kind of coming down on the woman—like, “Hello, lady, you can’t just endlessly spend…” But I also felt a growing sense of extreme discomfort. You’ve heard the expression, “It takes one to know one.” Well, I am one, so I knew one.
(I want to say here that it’s difficult to explain why one behaves this way. I don’t think it fits into words or concepts that our modern—or mortal—lifestyle can appreciate. My theory is that this seeming erratic, irresponsible behavior, while “not exactly right,” is also not all bad. There’s something good about it—we just haven’t explored it much. However, like salt, it needs to applied in sensible doses.)
Here’s a general summary of the behavior: tons of little unfinished projects, all kinds of great ideas for industry and improvement—shallowly explored—little consideration of whether or not they will be financially profitable/feasible/responsible. Man, I could’ve given myself a heaping unhealthy dose of GUILT.
Instead—and this is most unlike me—I saw it for what it was: an opportunity to make changes in my chaotic habits.
One thing I want to do is start finishing things. I could spend a lifetime finishing all the things I’ve started—and it may take that. I’m going to try not to start anything new, at least till I’ve finished some of the old projects. I won’t make myself finish everything because I wouldn’t enjoy that, but I’ll finish a lot of things—and I expect to really enjoy that.
I’m also going to get more organized. Try to do things one step, or one room, at a time. Re-establish a semblance of order and SPACE in my home.
I’m also going to try HARDER to be financially responsible. One of the reasons this is difficult for me is because it seems that Making Money—though a necessity—is too one-sided. My husband and I took a couple of Start and Grow Your Own Business classes this year (and decided NOT to pursue the project). We learned a lot about “moving inventory.” Can I just say I despise that concept? I vaguely understand it, but I still think it’s stupid that businesses can’t stockpile inventory. In my opinion it’s more wasteful, less “green,” and totally unhelpful to the population that we can’t find stuff we need without the intervention of a lucky break at a thrift store. Despite my loathing of the concept, I’m going to try to do better at not stockpiling inventory, actually part with some of my current hoard, and work toward a better understanding of concepts that have not-so-very-much appeal (for me).
You might notice I used the word try a lot. Though it often gets a bum rap, try is the first step for me. It’s like new clothing—you have to try on a lot of garments till you find the ones that fit your body, your personality, and that fit with other things in your wardrobe. So I’ll begin by trying, then shaping the new habits to my old self—a person I’ve spent a long time with and don’t want to completely overhaul. The challenge is to avoid Rose Leary syndrome. As Julian pointed out, “Our marriage was working out fine … But she’d worn herself a groove in that house of hers, and she couldn’t help swerving back into it” (Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler). Julian and Rose tried to change Rose’s life, didn’t work, but then they tried something else till they got a workable solution. (It kills me that Julian moved in with Rose and the Leary brothers!)
While I think this Til Debt Do Us Part TV show is probably a really good thing, it also seems like (forgive me for my outmoded POV) it teaches everyone to think like a man. HOWEVER, as I watched the tough love inflicted on the wife in this out-of-kilter scenario, I really appreciated the response of her husband. He didn’t just dump on her (at least not on-camera), he supported her in the progress she needed to make, and he was really in favor of participating in the project.
Thinking “like a man” (or you could call it “a responsible person”) is one side of the spectrum. I’m not suggesting that men need to learn to be more irresponsible! I’m suggesting that it would be really cool if someone could come up with a TV show that taught “men-like” beings to be more receptive to, and practiced in, the awesome aspects of “woman-like” behaviors.
At this point my “child-like” being is blown away with all this talk and wants to go think somewhere (while I work on one of my tough love organizing projects) and let this all soak in … again.