"That's $8.95 sir...", interrupted my gaze across the restaurant. I turned back around, "I'm sorry?".... "Dude, $8.95.", 'Jeff' (according to his name badge) says yet again to my obliviousness. I fumble trying to grab my wallet out of my pocket and pull out my credit card, it's quite dusty. "Thank you!" I say proudly, hoping the injection of some positivity will brighten his day. "You're welcome.", actually looking at me and cracking a very small (yet still existent) smirk. PJ = 1, 'Jeff's' Bad Day = 0. I take my food and go over to a seat, continuing my 'gaze' across everyone. There's two roofing guys in front of me, a family behind, and a few business people. The setting? A In-N-Out burger in Reno, NV.
The family behind me were talking about how their life is going to be changing. "So me and your dad are having to get some more jobs to help pay bills." They paused... Dead silence. "While we're working during the week you'll be staying at Aunt Jackie's place." The youngest started crying. She reached up with her arms and her dad took her, saying.. "Honey, it's going to be ok. We'll still see you every Sunday."
That hurt me. Pretty bad. I looked down at my food and saw the receipt. $8.95 it says. I wasn't 'used' to paying actually, it's incredible what one week out of 'the economy' does to your perception of the world. My "why can't I have more" turned to "why don't we all 'have' more". That all happened the previous week at Burning Man, which (I'm sure) you already have a plethora opinions and images soaring through your mind, by simply reading that word. But this is what that week was to me...
Through a vacation from the economy, I found that the 'we' of us as one species is far more important than 'me'. We are all the same, from every political leader, to every celebrity, to every homeless. We are all in this together.
What a profound change in my life. My addiction... It was to the 'me'. I was addicted to my own advancement, my own 'beat out the pack' competitive mentality. I was chasing reward like a junkie chasing their next fix. Me vs. you. Me vs. those roofing guys... Me vs. that family. I worked and pay bills, why can't they? .... That, to me, seems to be a disastrous mentality. Why can't they pay bills 'and' be a family? If I do well, why can't I spend a little more and maybe 'Jeff' can make a extra dollar an hour?
"There is a law in nature where nothing takes more than what it needs to survive. However we as a society break that everyday. Things that don't follow that law? Things that have unregulated growth and pull everything in? Cancer." (Tom Shadyac)
So this New Years, when you raise up your champagne flutes to salute 2014, this is what I'll be saying.. Instead of "[I will] workout more", "[I will] work to be a better happier person" "[I will]... blank". It'll be "[We will]..." We are all in this together.
"A lot has changed in the past 300 years.
People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation
of things. We've eliminated hunger, want,
the need for possessions.
We've grown out of our infancy."
--Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
I hope you have a fantastic 2014.
Have a great day!
--Paul Jacob Evans