Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Three Years Ago

Originally posted on October 29, 2007 and entitled:

If I Had a Million Dollars

"I'd buy you a fur coat, but not a real fur coat, 'cause that's cruel." - Bare Naked Ladies

I love reality shows. More precisely, I was a huge reality T.V. fan. My favorite was Survivor.

But something has happened recently. It's like for all that these reality shows are supposed to show "reality", they aren't real at all. People don't really behave like that, do they?

I used to think that I could be a contestant on Survivor, but I know that I couldn't. I would be in tears the whole thirty-nine days, assuming I lasted past the first elimination, which is very unlikely. I know I would have a really hard time with all of the back-biting and maliciousness that is so much a part of that experience (like high school all over again - thanks, but no thanks!).

It is for a MILLION DOLLARS, afterall, and each and every one of the people who appears on the show believes he/she deserves it as much as (or more, in some cases) than any of the others. Every episode, I have witnessed the people on the show compromise their integrity, their ideals and their morals in order to be the Sole Survivor.

It's sad to what depths they will sink for the chance to take home all of that money.

And it got me to thinking, what would I give up for a million dollars? How important is money to me?

That was my train of thought this evening, when Deus Ex Machina and I were slicing and juicing apples for our next try at cider, and I asked him, "If I were offered a $75,000 advance and a book deal to do something like No Impact Man, would you give up toilet paper for a year?"

Without hesitation, he answered, "No."

I said, "Even if I got a book deal? Not even for my career?"

"No." He said.

I was little hurt and started an internal dialogue about how I've given up all sorts of things for his career, and how I wouldn't think twice about giving up some amenities for him.

And then, I remembered that, in fact, I wouldn't.

Earlier this year, he had the opportunity to leave a very stressful job that he doesn't really like and be a commissioned officer in the United States Coast Guard. It would have meant a cut in pay, but the great benefits (including supplemental pay for housing and food) and the opportunity to retire in fourteen years would have off-set the loss of take-home cash.

But it would also have meant that we would have had to move and probably sell our house, and that's not something I was willing to give up. I wasn't willing to give up my home and my homestead for the adventure that the Coast Guard would have been. I wasn't willing to give up the stability of our community and our friends and neighbors and have my girls grow up, like I did, never having a place to call "home."

Which is the other reason I could never apply to Survivor - I could never, willingly and intentionally, leave my family for thirty-nine days to "play a game" - albeit a cut-throat, vicious and soul-stealing game, but a "game" nonetheless.

In the end, there has to be more to life than money. It can't all be about the money. That's what I'm hoping to prove to myself anyway; that one can be happy and healthy and have a good life, even without a lot of money - and the ultimate would be to live that life without money at all.

What would I give up for a million dollars? Not my home. Not my family.

But toilet paper, for me, at least, is negotiable.

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