05 December 2010

RICH ENOUGH: I used to dream about being able to afford designer clothing, gemstone jewellery, antique furniture and an Italianate mansion in a hip, inner-city suburb. I used to dream about being rich, but I honestly don’t do that anymore. This is not to say that if a windfall came my way I wouldn’t live it up, but I’m not chasing that windfall in any meaningful way.

The dream of expensive clothing, jewellery and furniture went first. When I made the switch from buying new to buying (mostly) second-hand, I stopped coveting things and merely rejoiced in what I found when I went shopping.

Then the dream of living in a hip, inner-city suburb went. This came about because my boyfriend’s new job meant a move to a rented house in a country town. As it turned out, it wasn’t just any country town, but a country town where I managed to make good friends. I was as surprised as anyone that I should suddenly have a host of new friends as I approached my mid-thirties.

Then the dream of the Italianate mansion went. My boyfriend and I recently purchased a fibro house in said country town. The house is very basic, but the garden is rambling and beautiful, and we have good friends in the area. So the quality of the house itself hardly even matters.

During the tense, week-long negotiation with the real estate agent over the price, I remember thinking, “We won’t get it. Nobody gets everything they want.” And I was as surprised as anyone that I should be thinking this way about a very basic house; that it was all I wanted after a lifetime of aspiring to an Italianate mansion.

Generally, the richer you are, the bigger your impact on the environment (the likes of Allen Ginsberg aside). Movie stars and old-money heiresses are often dubbed environmental activists when they plant organic vegetable gardens or purchase hybrid cars. But those same people can be seen living in extravagant homes, holidaying all over the world, and wearing new outfits to every event. The trappings of the good life don’t come at no environmental cost.

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