Thursday, December 30, 2010


Someone I barely knew from my graduating social work class told me of his trip to India, and how he witnessed children, half-naked on the streets, who were just so happy, smiley, and giddy playing around in puddles of oil. Yet, American children are so dissatisfied with everything - even brand new toys - and have an insatiable want for more in quest of finding an evanescent happiness.

I haven't thought about that statement in a while, and maybe it's because I've been reading a Buddhism book, or maybe it's because I now have my own child, that I am reminded of all the new and shiny things we buy for her. Is all that materialism necessary? It's hard not to want things, especially if the Joneses have it. And in our society, success is measured by quantity, not quality, and it's also hard not to fall prey into that materialistic way of thinking (I want, I want, I want!) Still, you have to admit, after getting what you wanted, it's never enough, is it? There's always something else that you want and there remains a deep and unsatisfied hollow within us.

How shall we fill that emptiness? With love? With hope? With peace? With spirituality? With God? And no one knows the answer to that question better than yourself. But the problem is, what if you don't know? We can't all become Buddhist monks and abandon our families and material possessions. What shall you do in the meantime? Continue our search? For what? I don't have the answers to these questions, and I'm sorry to put you through this mental gymnastics, blog-readers, I'm only following one of Buddha's eightfold paths.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Old Habits Die Hard

A family friend of ours came over for dinner the other day and inquired about our quarter jar, which is an old mayonnaise jar filled with quarters that sits on our fireplace mantle. Since we have a washer and dryer in our apartment, there was no clear reason why we had a quarter jar. I say it is for Nicole's college fund, but really, it's an old habit of mine from almost a decade of using coin operated laundromats.

Let's see...this includes 4 years of college (when I lived in Germany they used tokens, but still the same idea), 2 years of graduate school, and even when I bought my condo, the complex shared laundry facilities using quarters (that's another 2 years).

Quarters are like gold. And like gold, quarters are not as easy to come by. Some banks are not willing to exchange bills for quarters unless you were an actual customer of the bank (and no, not the walk-in kind). The grocery stores around the college campus would not exchange them for you because they were so use to college kids begging for quarters. And being the responsible, slightly anal roommate, my roommates were always mooching quarters off of me, which meant that I was always on the lookout for more quarters.

In addition to having my mom buy me rolls of quarters from her bank, I also got in the habit of paying for everything with bills in order to acquire my quarters' collection. Even if something was $1.01 and I had a penny on me, I'd still pay with $2 because this meant I was getting a whooping THREE quarters back! I find myself doing the same today sometimes, even though it's been over four years since I've stepped into a laundromat. Still, you never know when you're gonna need those quarters!