Chasing a Dream: The Advantages of Scarcity

Or… the Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

Today isn’t the first time along my dream chase that I’ve given thought to the advantages of growing up in an environment of scarcity. Today is the day when I became truly grateful for that scarcity after reading an article about why Steve Jobs wouldn’t let his children have iPads. I found it to be enlightening.

We Didn’t Know We Were Poor

My Mom and siblings (I'm the round-faced one looking off camera) (Daddy's holding the camera)

My Mom and siblings (I’m the round-faced one looking off camera) (Daddy’s holding the camera)

My parents had four children, and hearts big enough to encompass a whole passel of cousins and friends and friends of friends and people who began as strangers and ended up as family. There were many times when relatives divorced, and we continued to welcome the presence of the exes and their new families as everyone eventually moved on in their lives. My parents showed everyone love and acceptance; those who needed guidance got it. Sometimes people whose behavior got too loud and rowdy and out of line were taken behind the hen house for a “talking to.” Those who needed a safe haven found it. Those who just needed a good meal and a warm welcome always received more than they could have ever hoped. There was always enough to feed anyone who dropped by, even when whole families came unannounced. And there was always time to visit—to play music, to play cards, to sit in front yard and chat, waving as neighbors drove by. Our home was filled with love and laughter; it was the one place everyone loved to be.

We Played

One of the advantages of scarcity is that we learned to be creative. We didn’t have half a dozen televisions so that everyone got to watch his or her own show. No, sir. There was ONE television, and in the evenings, that one played whatever our parents wanted to watch. We kids had a choice: watch what they were watching (without bitching—you see, children weren’t entitled to get our way back then), or go entertain ourselves. At night, it often led to hours of Monopoly or darts or cards or making tents out of blankets and kitchen chairs or reading a book. Daytime found us playing in the yard—dribbling basketball on the patch of dirt where there had been grass until the goal was nailed to a tree, or softball (where the lilac bush was second base), or riding our bicycles. We played croquet or horseshoes or hide-and-seek or chase; we made mud-pies or hiked in the woods or made kites or threw rocks at cans or even played “rock-paper-scissors” if we were tired of everything else. We made puppets out of rags and put on our own puppet shows; we drew or colored or told ghost stories. We TALKED.

Raising My Child in Scarcity

With no college degree and a husband who was long gone, I raised my own child in scarcity. As a single parent, I worked way more hours and relied on sitters much more than I would have liked. But when I could spend time with my daughter, we played Gomoku (a 5-in-a-row board game) and I taught her strategy and planning and consequences. We lay in the floor coloring because we always had coloring books and crayons; she learned to draw and design and appreciate art. We attended community theater and performances for any free tickets we got (we got a lot because I worked at Nissan). We told stories and made puppets, took kite-making lessons and attended a drum clinic put on by Dave Garibaldi (one of the top drummers in the world, who played with Boz Scaggs, Natalie Cole and still tours with the Tower of Power (you can hear his music here). We sang our way across the country in a 3-day drive to North Dakota to visit friends. We sang anytime we were in the car—all the Alabama hits, the Judds songs, and Reba McEntire. We learned to get by on little, but we had such a happy time doing most of it that I don’t think she ever realized we were so broke. Just like I never realized that about my own childhood.

There Was No Scarcity In Love

While we always knew people who had many more financial advantages than we, there was no one who had more love in their home than we did. My parents were still best friends after 35 years of marriage when my Dad passed away. My parents taught us to love—openly, unabashedly, without prejudice or malice. They taught us to stand up for ourselves, be who we were meant to be, believe in ourselves, and share from the heart. I hope that is a legacy I gave my own child. I hope that—as was true in my own childhood—the scarcity of what I couldn’t provide is far over-shadowed by the love and laughter that were plentiful. Because one thing I know is this: creating your own entertainment sets you up for a lifetime of creativity, and that’s the stuff dreams are made of.

DREAM BIG! I always do!

Thanks for  being here!


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