Hello my name is Pam and I am a Downton-holic! Do I hear a Hello Pam from the crowd? I am so psyched that one of my fav shows is back for a brand new season. I missed the season opener…gasp….but was fortunate enough to catch a re-run last night…big sigh of relief! For those of you unfortunate souls that have not likewise succumbed to this addiction, Downton Abbey is a British historical fiction television show originally set in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic, and has advanced to last night’s episode set in 1922. Anglophile/Historian-Wanna-Be that I am, this is my cup o’ tea.
This show has made me ponder a question in watching the aristocratic wealth and their downstairs counterparts. One vignette of this current episode had the dilemma of one of the main character’s needing to replace her Lady’s maid. The previous occupant of that position left “like a thief in the night”. She is now left in a lurch and may have to actually dress herself! Oh My Horrors! What a dreadful prospect indeed. How WILL she possibly manage?
It suddenly occurred to me that the extremely wealthy of by gone eras (and, yes it IS just a show, but quite an accurate representation of a way of life) didn’t really live their lives. Someone else did it for them. They had someone to dress them, to shop for them, to feed them, to care for their young, to take care of their households, plan their parties, write their thank yous, answer their phones and doors, drive them around…..and basically….screen them from …..life. I would assume that they saw it as a privilege of their station in life. But is it really a privilege to give your life away to someone else? Are they missing something huge? And conversely, are their downstairs counterparts living someone else’s life in the process? The servants of this show have quite the feeling of ownership toward the lives of those they serve. It’s all very ponder-ific.
Now fast forward to the 21st in the real world in which we live. I suppose the uber rich are still guilty of all of the above excesses of privilege. Let’s face it, just pick up a People Magazine, or watch one of the Hollywood Reality Shows of the Rich and Famous, and those Famous for Being Rich to see the same kinds of privileges being exercised.
But what about us…are we a little bit guilty too? No judgement here, this is my quest for answers. However, it is worth a question. Has convenience gotten the best of us? I confess that I am seduced by what I see others enjoying. We live in the days of ordinary people having personal shoppers, trainers, life coaches, au pairs, grocery store home deliveries, maids to clean our houses and do our laundry, landscapers, car washers, and take-out food. I’m sure that one could argue the counterpoint. I know that it makes time for other things. It makes life easier. Yes, it most certainly does and there are degrees of moderation. But I think we must consider the cost of easy? Is easier always better? Just because we could, does that mean we should.
At the end of the day, I think one really loses something of great value. Perhaps the feeling of ownership in all that is yours, accomplishment of a job well done, of taking pride in something you completed, of learning that discipline and hard work pay big dividends, of laying your head on the pillow at night with a good kind of tired, or setting an example for a future generation of that kind of work ethic is lost in giving away pieces of your life to someone else. I also realize that you can get all those “feelings” in other ways, but still a fair share may be given away, a little chunk at a time here or there. Not striving to find ways to make your life easier is counter intuitive and totally going against the grain in the world’s view of success. I am just beginning to discover, however, that the best courses of action for us usually are the ones that are counter intuitive. I am reminded by a wonderful quote, The hard… is what makes it great.
I’ve decided that its kind of like a Rosie Ruiz, for any of you old enough to remember that one. Rosie was a runner in the Boston Marathon in 1980. Somewhere along the way of that celebrated 26.2 mile run, she took a short cut and hopped on the subway, and just jumped in toward the end of the race to sprint across the finish line with a record breaking time. However her fame was short lived and her deception was discovered. I never could imagine how she could possibly accept such an award if she hadn’t run the race and accomplished that incredible feat herself. Had she gotten a way with the scam, what a hollow victory it would feel knowing in your heart that you hadn’t really accomplished the task?
So, I, too, stand convicted, both in my past and in my present, but hopefully not my future. I must appeal to self evaluation. I’m afraid that that I may experience that same sense of hollow victory when I stand and look back if I take the short cuts, the easy way. I don’t want to be seduced by coulds, rather than shoulds. I want to be the one to live my own life, knowing that the hard will make it better . Look back to The Greatest Generation….I bet they lived their own lives and we can certainly learn a thing or two from them.
“Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘” Who is the LORD?”
~ Proverbs 30: 8-9