You will never be able to live, save, spend or give against the cultural tide without proper perspective. A small Montana town gave me that. Where shit on your boots or farmers tan was a sign of honest work, and all the trappings of success needed.
In a small community people are known. Deeply known. These are folks who have known each other the better part of their entire lives. If a person is honest, trustworthy, generous, or hardworking; people know that. They respect that. We call that “good people”. As in, “Yeah the Jones’s down the road, known them a long time, they are good people.” The clothes you wear won’t fool anyone. What kind of rig you drive won’t change anyone’s opinion of you. That kind of crap only impress folks who don’t really know you. And in a small town, everyone knows you.
Any idiot can finance a truck they can’t afford.
Let’s contrast this “wheat and cattle” environment I grew up in, to Washington DC where we lived for 4 years. Ah, the art of bullshit is almost a game. At least it seemed like bullshit to me. Cocktail parties were exhausting. I really don’t care where you work (as opposed to why you love the kind of work you do), or who your company represents, or which president you have a picture of yourself shaking hands with while doing the “side hug”-almost a requirement for anyone trying to impress. I don’t care how expensive your shoes are. I don’t care what grad school you went to. I don’t care whose names you try to drop (people or organizations). And I really don’t care the means of transportation that brought you to this party. Or what neighborhood you live in. I’m sorry, I just don’t care.
I love the Montana community I live in now. It’s not as small as where I grew up. I get to meet new people at dinner parties. I love getting to know these folks. If they are married or have kids. If their family lives close by. What good books they have read? If they hunt, fish, hike or ski. Or maybe garden! What kinds of tomatoes do they plant? If they have pets, chickens or ducks. What do they do on the weekends? Do they volunteer? Do they go to church? I am sure we love a lot of the same things. Playing in the lake on a perfect hot summer day. Spotting black bears on a long hike. Growing that perfect Brandywine tomato.
Maybe that stuff seems like bullshit to you. Maybe I am just a Montana girl at heart. But family, friends, what people love to spend their time doing, what they are passionate about, how they make a difference, well, that is far more interesting and important to me. Not their cars, shoes, job title or handshake pictures. (Although if you personally restored a classic muscle car, the Hubs will be very, very interested! Prepared to be peppered with questions till you just give in: take him outside to see the car and give him a test drive. I, on the other hand, will be inside wondering where the hell my husband went!)
If we spend our lives trying impressing people we don’t know, it’s awfully hard to spend, save and give with any other purpose. I’m so thankful for that small town I grew up in, because the perspective it gave me is helping to catapult us into early retirement. I would rather have some shit on my boots, cash in the bank and freedom to hang out at the lake on that hot summer day with some “good people.” Really knowing people and being known. You bring the home brewed beer, and I will bring the venison jerky.