The Wolf of Wall Street and The Allure of Opulence

The Wolf of Wall Street is a film I had wanted to see for quite a while and this weekend I finally got the chance. I am a lover of film so its not rare for a movie to stick with me. However, this film captivated me for days afterward. The world it created enveloped my thoughts in a strange way. I can’t say I envied the specific lives of the characters in the film or wanted to share in their particular lifestyle. My thoughts were not lost in fantasy. I was, however, completely intrigued by the downward spiral of Jordon Belfort. The struggles with greed and excess he faces are some of the same I have struggled with, although from a distant outsider’s perspective. While Belfort lived the lifestyle, I live under the illusion that such a lifestyle would answer a lot of my problems.

In contrast to this film, I recently listened to a story on NPR about scarcity thinking. Basically outlining the idea that those who live with a mind-set that they lack money, time, and resources seek out short-term solutions to their problems. This is in contrast to those who live thinking they have enough, or more than enough, and who can spare the time and money to plan for the long-term. For example, someone following scarcity thinking may duct taping their leaking pipes instead of doing the long, hard work (or having the funds to hire a professional) to fix the pipes properly. The idea is that eventually the pipe will leak through the duct tape, potentially creating a much bigger problem down the road. Whereas if the problem was nipped in the bud then the larger problem could be avoided. Scarcity thinking forces you to believe that you must sacrifice your well-being to survive.

I know that I suffer from scarcity thinking. While for all basic necessities I have my ass covered so to speak. I have somewhere to go home to, clothes on my back, decent food to eat, a steady job that provides me with health insurance, and hey, even though my car is a constant source of worry it gets me where I need to go most of the time. However, I drift into the thinking that if I just made a little more money that I would be able to afford a more spacious apartment, better clothes, healthier food, a car that I don’t feel I need to cross my fingers in order for it to start on a cold, rainy morning. I understand that I have a lot to be grateful for, but scarcity thinking makes me feel like there is so much more that money could buy.

The characters in The Wolf of Wall Street began as scarcity thinkers, leading them into their eventually doomed positions. While their scarcity thinking lead them to a life of consumeristic bacchanal only to watch it all crumble, mine leaves me imagining this world with rose colored glasses. This fantasy is perhaps even more dangerous in that those rose colored glasses does not allow me to truly see that dichotomous nature of wealth.

I can watch the characters on screen become obsessed with drugs, alcohol, sex, and general debauchery but can’t help but think I could keep a handle on reality. I could make better choices and keep a solid footing. But maybe it is our nature, in this society and culture to always want more because having more means you will be the master of your universe. If it wasn’t the money that made Belfort feel on top of the world, then he turned to cocaine. Lots and lots of cocaine. Even still, he couldn’t keep feeling like he was on top. Neither can the rest of us. The point is, you never stay on top. You will never be master of the universe. Living this life, in the mortal world, is an act in scarcity for most of us. We are not enough. We don’t have enough. This is a feeling that haunts all of us eventually.


Carrying Over a Rut

A new year, a new you. Right? Isn’t that what all the marketing is telling us? I am so very over New Year’s resolutions. The freedom from this particular pressure is a welcome relief but I can’t help but think it may also be a missed opportunity. You see, I think I may be in a bit of a rut. I made a lot of changes a few years ago that left me feeling invigorated and fresh. New job, new apartment, new friends, new hangouts, new hobbies. However, all of these changes are now my new norm and that excited, anything-can-happen feeling is lost. New has become routine and now I feel something needs to shake me up. Yes, something needs to shake me up. I’m tired of doing the shaking and I’m trying to give the universe a chance to do it. But here’s the honest truth: I don’t trust the universe. I like to think I do but I don’t. Right now I feel like I’m stuck in a muddy swamp, knee-deep in shit waiting for the sight of a shoreline or some friendly stranger in one of those boats with the fans on it to come scoop me up and take me somewhere better. My feet feel heavy.

Now I know this sounds melodramatic. I have a perfectly stable job, enough resources to get by, friends and family I love, etc. And I am very grateful for them. However, everyone of us yearns for something more every once in a while, if not ALL the time. That old “grass is always greener on the other side” couldn’t ring more true to me right now. It’s not that anything in my life in particular is dreadful, but things could definitely be better in my opinion. Yes, being happy with where you are on your journey and all that other self help talk has truth to it. However, I often think that if I’m not the one driving myself forward, usually pretty forcefully, that I will fall behind. Behind what exactly? I’m not quite sure, but I’m convinced that if I do fall behind then things will go south fast.

I know intellectually that newness always wears off. Nothing stays sparkly forever. Deterioration is natural for nature, for relationships, for people. Change is something I’ve never been too fond of. Over the past few years I have grown warm to it and even welcomed its uneasiness in my stomach along with the butterflies of excitement. This is what I’m craving now and I’m wondering where it should come from. Is it changing apartments, moving to a new city, getting a different job, a new relationship, a new adventure? I’m not sure. Like I said, I’m trying to let the universe unfold it for me and take some of the pressure off. I have learned that things that are forced are not always best. You give off that ever so putrid stench of desperation. Everyone and everything can smell it.

I’m making an effort to relax into this feeling. While I continue to plan for the future, I am allowing myself to enjoy this part of the journey. The time before the next big change. I can feel that something is coming and I’m excited to know what it is.

New Year. New Week. Week One.

Photo One.

Observations: New Year, New Week, New Diet. Yes folks, include me in those oh so loathsome New Year’s Resolution Dieters. Now, I know I can’t convince you of this but I actually did not intend for this to be  New Year’s Resolution but the timing happened to work out right. As a rule, I’m one to get worked up over an idea for a week and then cease to follow through with it (along with the other 98% of the population). Though strangely, New Year’s resolutions haven’t necessarily been my thing. I mean, if there is any better opportunity to get pumped up and then slowly trail off something it’s definitely New Year’s resolutions. However, I’m usually a summer resolutionist since that is usually when school life slowed down. However, this year as a result of not seeing not-so-grand results from my work-out regime I decided that it was finally time to revamp my diet just like my fitness schedule. Now I’m pretty good at clocking in my time at the gym every week but the whole “eating healthy and in decent portion sizes” has never been my strong suit. I mean, I am a Southern girl who loves mac and cheese, cornbread, fried chicken, and anything else you could throw at the wall and it would stick. But time has proven that maybe I’ve indulged in these oh-so-delicious “once in a while” treats a few times too many. So this New Year I have decided to go on the most feared and stringent diet for a Southern girl there is, the Atkins diet. Yes, you hear me right…as of January 2nd I have only had 20g of carbs a day. That leaves little room for my beloved Doritoes and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Now, I’m not one to be particularly upset with giving up certain foods for a certain period of time (this phase only last for 2 weeks and then I can start eating moderate amounts of carbohydrates), and to be honest I really don’t miss a lot of it. In fact, I’m becoming a pretty damn good carnivore and egg devourer (hence my hard-boiled egg). I’m actually feeling pretty good. I guess there is something about starting something new when those calendars all turn over that feels right.