A universal property of people, especially the immature, is the desire to have ‘things’. We can get into a condition where we really don’t own our possessions as much as they ‘own’ us. A teen aged boy yearns for his own ‘wheels’. He will lavish all kinds of special and expensive ‘presents’ on his ‘love’. This is an identity, a status symbol that he requires in order to be fulfilled as a member of his peer group. There is a mindset that says; “I deserve” a new car, or fancy clothes. As our national affluence increases, we develop ‘needs’ that are satisfied only by more and more possessions. As professional adults, we ‘need’ expensive club memberships, boats, and entertainment. Naturally, we want to maintain a ‘normal’ standard of living, but we can easily fall into the trap of buying expensive ‘toys’.
With me, it was an airplane, and Aeronca Champion 65. We were just married and we needed ‘everything’ to set up our household. I convinced my sweetheart that instead, we should buy an airplane. We did survive the extravagance and we both enjoyed it, but it was a severe drag on our ‘minimum wage’ economy. In retrospect, this was an expensive excursion into a fantasy that did not logically fit into our needs or budget. Why did I do this thing? Again, as in invoke the theme of this book; I didn’t know who I was. That was over 68 years ago and I hope that I have significantly matured since then.
With ‘been there - done that’ as a background, I will continue. So much of this kind of extravagance is based on perceived social status needs or feelings of social inferiority. The root cause of this behavior is in not knowing who we are.
There are many success stories of immigrants from Europe in the early 1900’s who came to the US with only the clothes on their back. They seemed to have a good understanding of ‘who they were’ with respect to real needs, opportunities, and responsibilities in order to achieve success. They knew that they were not ‘entitled’ to anything and whatever they got be the result of hard work and careful saving. If they earned 25 cents in a day, they saved part of it, even if that meant they didn’t eat. It is doubtful that modern young people would consider such a lifestyle in order to succeed.