Thursday, April 05, 2007

You are what you...

Someone once told me she didn't buy expensive food or go to good restaurants because whatever you eat or drink it ends up in the toilet. I had to stop and think about that one--for a minute, but only for a minute. That's like saying there's no sense buying good clothes that last because they just wear out or that buying anything that is made well and might cost more isn't worth it because it will inevitably end up in the trash or at the dump. It sounds almost like a good idea but then another minute ticks by and common sense rushes in--at least it did with me. It's a very negative way of thinking.

What she fails to see is that eating good food, even when it costs more, means your body is getting better nutrients. Food breaks down and nourishes the body, keeps us alive, and some part of the food--the inedible part--ends up as waste. Even waste has use. Better food--even when it costs more--means a better ultimate form of energy to repair and strengthen the body. Cheap food with lots of additives will keep you alive but you're wasting your money because it isn't good for the body. It's the same with clothing or cars or anything worth having. Buy better made clothing and it will most likely cost more because the materials and labor cost more, but the clothing will last longer. Same for cars and everything else. You get what you pay for.

McDonald's and other fast food restaurants are cheap but they're not going to supply the body with what it needs and will supply more chemicals and additives that will break the body down. Cheap clothing wears out faster. Cheap cars break down more often. But cost isn't the only measuring stick. There are lots of expensive things made and manufactured of cheap material with even cheaper labor. It pays to look closer.

Back in my youth I sold vacuum cleaners (Rainbows) door to door. I knocked on the door of a chicken coop wondering why the office made an appointment for me with chickens. I knew people must live there, but if they couldn't afford anything better than a chicken coop I was wasting my time.

I was wrong.

The inside of the chicken coop was very nicely furnished and showed evidence of taste and style. The couple bought the Rainbow and paid cash for it. They didn't have a lot of floor or upholstery to drapes to use it on but they bought it anyway. I didn't quibble about making a sale, but I was curious why they lived the way they did. I asked.

They told me they lived there because it was well made and inexpensive to heat and cool and because it was paid for. It was part of the land the husband's father had owned for generations and the only part of his family's once vast holdings he still owned. Taxes and bad management had eaten away at their holdings until almost nothing was left but he was determined to hang onto what he still had and eventually buy back the rest.

He and his wife worked for years, scrimping and saving, denying themselves every luxury--and even children--until they had the money to buy back the land. It was too late. They were in their 70s and they finally realized they had used up their whole life looking toward some day and they forgot to live. They had no family to inherit the land but they had a lot of money. They decided to spend the money fixing up their home and buying all the things they denied themselves over the years. The couple were happy and seemed well suited to each other. There was an easy sense of familiarity in their demeanor and actions.

"I didn't give my wife much luxury over the years and she never complained. She worked right by my side the whole time. I was a fool," he said.

His wife patted his hand and looked up at him with such devotion and love. "Doesn't matter. You're still my fool."

Looking only at the outside of things is usually a mistake. When you look at the cost and not at what you're getting or what you're giving up, you're looking at the wrong end of things. Everything you eat doesn't end up in the toilet. Everything you buy to wear or use or drive isn't going to end up on the scrap heap or in a land fill. Some things last. It's getting harder and harder to figure out what will last, but it's definitely worth the effort finding it.

The saying goes that we are what we eat. It's much more basic than that. We are what we choose . . . and sometimes we get a chance to trade a bad choice for a good one.

That is all. Disperse.

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