Ant and Grasshopper

I grew up in a very conservative family. Dad made plenty of money, but he'd grown up believing that you never show your wealth, for any reason. This was unfortunate since we lived in a nice part of town and went to school with other kids whose parents also made good money, but were often less conservative about showing it.

I was raised to dress boring, like a good engineer-type, in clothes that don't stand out or shine. We drove boring cars. My first car was blue, of course, with 4 doors and nothing about it that might draw attention to it. Under the hood was a 455 cubic inch monster engine that would beat most of the musclecars my classmates drove. It also had a posi rear end and could roast the rear tires off with ease. It was the perfect representation of my whole family, boring and dull on the outside, with all the good parts hidden underneath so no one would suspect it was there.

My niece is nothing like the rest of our family. She has to have the best of everything. When she got her own car for the first time she got a bright green Mazda Miata convertible. Her clothes are always the latest fashion, the best brands, the tallest boots and the sparkliest shoes. Her hair costs a fortune, but I have to admit, it looks really good. She's all fuzzy collars, leather boots, long tinted hair, the latest and greatest of everything. She looks great. She shines, like a beautiful woman should. And so very unlike the rest of us.

Sometimes it feels as if every dime I make goes into my retirement account, or to the bills. I save plenty. I always have. I have no credit card debt. I own all my cars outright. I can't say I've lived an exciting life, but I've never been poor.

My niece is deep in debt, from various causes and for various reasons, some of which are truly not her fault. She has little money, but she lives a full life. She's enjoyed every minute of her youth and seemingly has few regrets. She lets her light shine as brightly as it possibly can.

I can't recall a time when I ever let my light shine as brightly as possible. These days my light is fading. It's nowhere near as bright as it once was capable of being, yet still I don't turn it on.

What makes us the way we are? What causes one person to dress themself up in the shiniest, brightest, sexiest, most expensive clothes, with perfect hair and perfect ... EVERYTHING, while another person dresses down, wearing old faded clothes that don't cost much, but don't look like much? Why does one person spend $100 to get their hair 'highlighted' and think nothing of the money because it looks great, while another feels guilty for spending $15 at some cheap haircutting chain that gives lousy haircuts?

Is there truly a population of people who were born to shop at WalMart, where the goods are cheap, and you get exactly what you paid for - crap, while another population was born to shop at Macy's or some other nice, but expensive place where the clothes cost an arm and a leg, but they make you look spectacular? Oh, I'm not talking about people who shop at cheap chains because they have no money and need cheap things. I'm talking about people who have the choice to shop at either store, but choose the cheaper one consciously.

Are there truly people born to be losers, while others are born to win? Or is it simply how we are raised to view ourselves? Perhaps its simply how we see ourselves regardless of how we were raised? My niece wasn't raised with the finest things, by any stretch of the imagination, yet she has always sought them out. Even in the hardest times, when it seems somehow inappropriate, she dresses like a winner. But somehow we always felt that she would come out on top in the end, so it was alright. As for me, I work in the world of IT, where computer geeks and technophiles herd together in their khaki pants, powder blue button downs and polo shirts, thick glasses, bad hair, and brown tasseled shoes, wondering why the hot women in sales, who glisten like Superstar Barbie, never give us the time of day. I know why, but I've found it pointless to try to explain to my commrades.

One of my computer commrades has even taken to wearing pink polo shirts to go with his fuzzy beard and fuzzy hair. WTF?

I know I'm a freak, raised by a father who rode Harleys back before riding Harleys was cool and thus it was looked down upon, and a mother who thinks the way to save money is not to use coupons, but to buy only the cheapest possible foods, including and especially steak, so that I grew up having no idea why people loved steak so much. It wasn't until I was living in Memphis, far away from my family, that I discovered what steak is supposed to taste like and that it shouldn't require any ketchup to make it bearable.

There is an old parable about an ant and a grasshopper. The ant works and works all summer long, storing away food for the coming winter. The grasshopper is lazy, sitting around enjoying himself all summer. When winter comes the grasshopper is hungry and cold. The ant is warm in the ground with plenty of food. It's a fable intended to teach the virtues of sacrifice and hard work. I've spent my life being an ant. I've watched grasshoppers driving past me in their leased Lexuses and BMWs, wearing their overpriced but stylish sunglasses and shiny clothes. I've seen their mansions and been inside to admire their $5000 plasma TVs in their museum-like living rooms. I've seen some of them lose their houses when our grasshopper economy, rigged by grasshopper politicians, stumbled and fell on its face.

A wealthy friend of mine patted me on the back when the economic disaster began, telling me he somehow knew that Mrs Memphis and I would weather this storm with little trouble. He's right, of course. It has hardly impacted us at all. Yes, we have survived. But the very man who patted me on the back is a grasshopper. He lives in a 4500 square foot million dollar home and drives a silver Mercedes which he complains is a piece of crap. He wears a Rolex and brags about the multi-million dollar deals he makes several times a year. He has weathered this economic crisis with the same percentage losses in the market that I have, only his percentages equate to millions of dollars. It pained him, but affected his lifestyle not one bit.

One thing I learned while working for the Big Alabama Bank is that the rich people at the top don't admire or respect ants. The big Bank Executives knew our individual credit situations - who was deep underwater in debt and who was living in sync with their means. Yet they never promoted the ants. They had no use for us. They shoved us aside and put their arms around the other young grasshoppers who were so far in debt for their boat houses, Rolex watches, Gucci shoes, ragged Lexus cars and ski boats that failing to make it into the upper echelons of management meant certain bankruptcy and ruin.

These are the people who wrecked the world's economy. These are also the people who seem to enjoy their lives the most. Perhaps I'm wrong, but grasshoppers seem to spend the majority of their lives having a pretty damn good time. Ants, meanwhile, worry a lot, often about possible disasters that never materialize. I'm not even sure that I would say that ants ever really live at all. We exist. We endure. We grow old and die.

So which are you, an ant or a grasshopper? And which do you think is best? Personally, I've grown tired of living the life of an ant. Yet I know it's deeply ingrained in my soul. Even as I open up a bit more here and there I know it's nothing compared to the grasshoppers. I will never be one of them. They certainly know this. It's written all over me.

You have read this article ant and grasshopper with the title Ant and Grasshopper. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...