Letter To My Daughter – 7/11/10

Here is the actual auction picture.

Dearest,

I’m embarrassed to write that last year, while in the hospital, I watched a Barbra Streisand auction live on the Internet. I feel icky admitting it, and blame manapause and the fact they were selling old pine furniture, all too expensive for me. But something about owning one of them sounded cool, as it came with a good story.

When asked why she was selling so many prized possessions, B.S. said it was because our possession of objects is temporary. She was speeding up the process for charity. Not a mind-blowing thought, but simple, interesting and true.

So, honey, listen closely, and I speak from experience: Don’t fall in love with objects (or boys until you’re 30, which I know won’t be possible, but I can hope).

I think of all the stuff I’ve bought in my lifetime – the shirt I couldn’t live without or the expensive sneakers I had to have that eventually went in the trash or to charity. I could make a list that would unroll like a Greek scroll the length of a football field.

I have spent money and energy on garbage that provided a short-lived Red Bull jolt of happiness. Worse than that, I’ve wasted emotions and experienced anxiety on stuff I couldn’t afford but thought I had to have.

The next time you buy anything, close your eyes and picture the lifespan of that object from the moment you purchase it to its end. Are you going to use it for a long time? Will it end up hidden in a closet in two months and given to Goodwill in two years? Is there a way to buy it used, like the furniture we’ve found on craigslist?  (If you really want to see how items lose their value, look on craigslist, honey. It’s amazing and depressing what we spend our dough on and how much we pay for it.)

If you feel that your happiness depends on that object and you’ll absolutely die if you don’t get it, then walk away. Run away. It’s a losing proposition and it will never live up the hype you’ve given it. Take your time and reevaluate.

All of this stuff becomes baggage and a ball and chain. You have worry about it, lock it up at night, put an alarm on it. It gets scratched or damaged or breaks when your 8-year-old daughter drops it (sorry, you’ve been pretty good at breaking a lot of stuff over the years, especially Christmas ornaments). So, if it’s fragile, you’re going to have to worry about it twice as much.

storyofstuff.com

Know the true cost of an item. We watched Story of Stuff together. Watch it again. Cheap items from other countries aren’t cheap. They come with a long-term cost to world pollution that we don’t quite understand yet, but your generation will.

Know what is truly important in life. I wish I had had a parent to share some wisdom on this subject. It’s your family and friends that matter the most, not objects, unless of course they’re statues of me (couldn’t resist that one. Perhaps a small shrine. Joking. No shrines. How about a Play-Doh bust of me mounted on a pike in front of the house? Hmm, too gory.)

You’re on the clock. Your time is limited. Don’t worry about owning stuff. As they say, it ends up owning you. Make sure whatever you spend your money on will truly deliver happiness for the long term.  Otherwise, it’s not worth the price.

Remember, you had as much fun playing with a giant cardboard box as you did with that pricey collection of Webkinz animals. Find the boxes and save for a rainy day. Please.

Love to you and your mom.

“Oh while I live, to be the ruler of life, not a slave, to meet life as a powerful conqueror, and nothing exterior to me will ever take command of me.”

Whitman, Walt

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4 thoughts on “Letter To My Daughter – 7/11/10

  1. This is beautiful. I love reading these letters, something about the Dadvice tone of them makes me all mooshy.

    My dad is the “man of few words, but when he speaks, people listen” type. But he wrote me a letter when I was just a few months old (and they didn’t know how long I’d be around) to be opened on my 16th birthday. Every time we had to go to the safe deposit box for something, I would get all giddy just holding it and wondering what it said. When I turned 16, I was as or more excited about that letter than getting a car. He wrote me another one when I graduated college, and I keep a copy of both with me pretty much all the time, and the originals in a safe.

    All that to say, these will really, really mean something to your daughter one day, and as I’ve said before, she’s lucky to have you for her dad!

    • I like your Dad. That is such a cool thing to do that he did. Wow. Wow. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing the story with me. I do hope that my daughter feels the same way, though she may discover them in a different way. My wife my have to let her read them at different stages of her life. Or, who knows, perhaps I will be around to share them with her. I can only imagine her words to me: Daddy, you’re more screwed up than I thought. 🙂

      Thanks again for the visit and heartfelt comment. I appreciate it very much.

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