Saturday, September 29, 2007

More Thoughts on Cost

I have been thinking a good deal today about the cost of the decisions we make with our lives.

We were driving from Fresno to Needles (where we're camping out a Days Inn), and I was acutely aware of different sorts of efficiencies with regards to the drive...there was the cost of time, the cost of gas, the cost of types of driving on my car.

You see, if I choose to obey the posted speed limits, I can conserve gas, save money, obey civic laws...but I'll get there slower. I kept watching the time counting down on the GPS. I thought about how that was the length of time that Pax was going to be forced into that 5-point restraint system that he sits in in his car seat, that it's also the amount of time that he might let out blood-curdling screams. But speeding (as I did) at 80-85 mph got me bad gas mileage, and, since I stopped when it was convenient for Pax's naps, we usually bought expensive gas instead of being on the hunt for the cheap stuff.

See, there is no "good deal" or "best way". Each decision comes at a cost.

I wonder if we realize this...that there is a cost for a family when they downsize to one car...that they save cash but inherit inconvenience...which can of course be a blessing in disguise. Or that choosing to live without TV is a noble thing, but what about the times when you really just need to unplug your mind after thinking all day?

All our decisions come at a cost. I guess the real issue is how good we are at budgeting for those costs. Because I think most of us tend to over-budget (or under-budget?) and it's really just for convenience's sake...or comfort's sake. But convenience and comfort have a price as fact, sometimes a very high one.

I was remembering that I'd heard someone say that technology has made us stupider. Perhaps he was right; perhaps he was wrong. I dunno. But the line of thought I got into was that when we no longer have to struggle, we stop flexing that particular muscle. That is, the things that make life easier make it harder for us to develop means to deal with the difficult things.

It's like getting a vaccination for life and never really having to build up an immunity on our own...wait, no, that's a bad illustration, but perhaps you see what I'm getting at.

I am glad we have chosen this path. I think it is a good path. I have a hard time not being judgmental towards others who have seemed to have taken an easier path. Pity for me that I cannot leave well enough alone.

And you know, a great many folks would look at our 2001 car with a GPS and iPod and tell us we're the same as those we talk down about. And maybe they're right.


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