Sometimes you have to deal with things that you have no control over. This has been more than clear this week to anyone living in the Carolinas. And it really hit home for me yesterday.
Anyone who has visited me in my office this semester had a chance to see the wrist brace that I’ve been wearing all summer. And yesterday I finally had surgery to repair that injury. The surgery went well and now I’m recovering at home for a couple of days. And while I’ve dealt with the aftermath of anesthesia before, this was my first experience with a nerve blocker. The up side of the nerve block was that I had no pain for 20 hours after my surgery. The down side was that my left arm was completely numb for that same time. I had no control whatsoever over its movement. It was actually fascinating to me. My left arm was just dead weight (which was MUCH heavier than I would have expected!). I wore a sling to support it and just had to live without my left arm for the day. (Teeth and feet become very useful tools when you only have one arm). I just had to find ways to work around the thing I had no control over.
Sometimes you’ll face financial challenges that you can’t control. The unexpected auto repair. The annual tuition increase. The rising price of gasoline. A medical situation. The cost of the bar exam. Air travel for a family emergency. Financial stress can come in any number of forms that you can’t control. But what you can control is how you prepare for and react to these things. A budget. An emergency fund in savings. Insurance. These are all preventative measures to deal with the things you can’t control. Loans. Credit cards. Side jobs. Selling things you don’t need. These are all reactive measures you can take to relieve your financial stress.
We will all face things that we have no control over. But we all have control of how we prepare for and react to these things.
With all due respect to the state of Texas, bigger isn’t always better. I was at a music festival this past weekend and couldn’t help but think about it. I go to a LOT of music festivals of assorted sizes. The biggest one I attended this year cost me the most money and was absolutely the least fun. This weekend’s fest was one of the smallest and one of my best experiences of the summer. Sure….big has its advantages. In the case of a music festival it brings you a killer lineup of nationally known artists. But it also brings you a giant venue to hike around, high ticket prices, high vending prices, and difficult security. A big fest is a lot of work (and money) to have a good time. The small fest I just attended, however, was very peaceful. The bands were mostly from Pennsylvania, but very talented. My camp was only about 150 yards from the stage, so it was quick and easy to go back for food and beverage supplies. And many of the performers spent the weekend hanging out in the crowd, listening to the music with the rest of us. It was just really fun. Bigger isn’t always better.
The bigger isn’t always better theory applies to so many things in life. A warehouse club container of fresh veggies doesn’t do you any good if they spoil before you can eat them. The 36-pack of toilet paper may cost less per roll, but what good is that if you have no place to store it? A gallon of milk isn’t a bargain if you only consume a quart a week. A giant pickup truck may seem like a good choice…until you have to fill the gas tank. A huge house with vaulted ceilings seems lovely…until you have to pay the bill to heat it in January (or cool it in July). A forty pound bag of dog food might come with a great price, but doesn’t help you if you are not able to lift it without help.
Many times we are conditioned to think that bigger is better. But it is important to think about your own reality to decide whether that is actually the case.