Let the weight of those words sit with you for a bit. As I’m sure you know this is a relatively monumental life event; it’s never happened to me before I can assure you. I’m always running out of one before the other, then forgetting which one I needed to buy and returning home with a bottle of shampoo to replace the very empty bottle of conditioner. I try to be diligent and use the same quantities of both to ensure they are being used up at the same rate but no matter how hard I’ve tried, one always beats the other. Until today. Today I have looked at hair care products in the face and laughed.
As I set the now-empty bottles aside, my face aglow in this sweet, sweet victory, my mind scuttled down a rabbit hole and I began to consider switching to a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner combo so I could have this feeling all the time, which led me to remember my early-adolescent years obsession with Pert Plus.
In my eyes, Pert Plus was the ultimate shampoo and conditioner. My older cousins, Becky and Anita, had it and so, of course, I wanted to use it too. The bright, acid green bottle. The smell of chemicals laced with baby powder. It was the all-in-one product guaranteed to make my hair shiny and clean and tangle free. I loved spending the night at their house because it usually meant I could use their Pert Plus.
For whatever reason, Pert Plus wouldn’t show up on our house’s shopping list no matter how much I begged and pleaded. (I think it did… eventually… but by that time I had outgrown it and had probably moved on to Herbal Essence.)
I thought back to another time, the elementary years, when I spent many weeks during our lunch break positively green with envy over the delicious looking tins of Vienna Sausages my friend Kelly had in her lunchbox. I made it my mission to convince mom to buy me these exotic school time treats and did everything my ten-year-old mind could think of to convince her I NEEDED to have Vienna Sausages in my lunchbox, too. She finally relented and bought half a dozen tins. I was giddy with excitement the next school day and couldn’t wait to show all my classmates. Turns out, I absolutely hated them. But I’m fairly certain my mom made me eat them all anyway since I had been so adamant she purchase them in the first place. Maybe that’s why Pert Plus took so long to make it to our shower shelves.
Thinking back on these (and probably a dozen or more other examples) I feel like I can excuse my behavior to an extent. I was a kid. Kids want what their friends have. It’s all part of the growing up process. Or is it?
You see, I’m practically grown up. At 32 I am considered an adult in modern society. (Although if I lived in Middle Earth I would still have another year left until my “coming of age”. If I lived during Jane Austen’s time I would be settling into my role of “Spinster-Aunt” and working on my needlepoint and growing a large, hairy mole on my chin as my eggs shrivel up and die inside me. But I digress…) Legally, I can do everything but run for President. I pay taxes. I own a lawnmower. I take multi-vitamins. I do lots of adult-like things. And yet, I still find myself wanting, wanting, wanting what other people have. Nowadays the things are bigger and more expensive than shampoo and packaged meat, but the feelings are the same.
Sometimes my thoughts are purposely directed to focus on the have-nots of my life, but other times they go there on their own without any prompting from me. They speed along unchecked, building up steam and collecting power until I feel like that kid again who just can’t understand why I can’t have exactly what I want.
Just the other day I caught myself complaining about my bedroom closet – that it was too small to hold all my clothes, I needed more space. Why can’t I have more space? Why can’t I have a bigger house? Why can’t I have this? Why can’t I have that? I want all the things and I want them now.
I’d like to believe I’m not a selfish person, but sometimes when I run my thoughts on playback mode, I’m ashamed of what I hear. You only need to turn on the news for five minutes or scroll through your Facebook feed for three to read and watch the stories of people who have actual needs. Real needs. Life or death needs. Not more closet space or a new computer or a bigger TV.
I know there is a balance. I know it’s not wrong to work hard and enjoy the “fruits of your labor” so to speak. But I struggle to find that balance. One moment I’m angry at the world because I don’t have Pert Plus and Vienna Sausages and walk-in-closets, and the next minute I’m a cowering ball of guilt because I have too much and I take it all for granted and none of it is going with me in the end anyway.
Am I cultivating my contentment based on things? Am I so blinded by what I don’t have that I miss out on what I do have? And in turn, is that blinding me from seeing the opportunity to give to others who have far, far less than me? I didn’t have Pert Plus, but we always had shampoo and conditioner in the house. Before I realized Vienna Sausages were truly disgusting, I always had lunch for school. And I have no closet space because I have way too many clothes, plenty that I don’t even wear.
So that is what occupies my thoughts tonight. Who knew that two empty bottles of hair product could lead me down such a rabbit hole, right? They say your best ideas come in the shower, and while nothing I said was particularly groundbreaking it is interesting how the mind works and where thoughts will wander.
Speaking of great ideas, wouldn’t it be fantastic if there was a waterproof memo pad you could keep IN the shower? Unfortunately, I wasn’t the first person to think this so my fortune must be made elsewhere. But seriously, isn’t this the coolest looking thing ever? I need it. I need it NOW! 😉