By Mike Aux-Tinee.
When we think of a mirage most of the time it comes up as something like this.
There is a poor soul who is abandoned and left in the desert to die. The longer they trek through the barren wasteland, their mind begins to plays tricks on them. Wait! Is that what I think it is? Could that be an oasis? Water! In a desperate attempt, they trudge off towards what they think they see. But it’s an optical illusion and nothing more. Yet they continue onward in anticipation of eventually reaching the oasis and getting water. As we watch this play out, we have hope for the stranded person, We believe they eventually will find water or someone will find and rescue them from their predicament. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn’t
But in real life you do not really need to be stranded in the desert to chase mirages.
It’s been something that I have been chasing after most of my life; a mirage. It took on many forms: an idea of how I should live my life, what clothes to buy and wear, to what car to drive and so on. At least for me, those were a few of the biggest.
I was influenced by magazine ads, what others around me had and what I saw when I went shopping.
The more I went after it, the more it would move away from me. As if it were playing with me, toying with a tormented and poor soul who could not catch up.
I became trapped in a never-ending journey to accumulate more. I kept telling myself, “I can see it. If I can only get there, I know I will be happier and my life will be better. I just know it!” And I would work and struggle; doing anything and everything I could just to keep going. The thing was, I never truly got there, just like a mirage in the desert, it would move or I would change my interest and focus my attention onto some other fixed point on the horizon and move in that direction full speed a head.
I was in a vicious cycle; an exercise in futility. I believed the perception that I was moving forward and getting closer to that mirage, but in reality I was going nowhere. During my quest, I lost so many years of my life, decades in fact chasing what I thought I wanted, who I wanted to be and the best way to get there. I saw other having what I thought I wanted, I saw them happy and that’s what I wanted to be, happy. I saw these people in magazines, on tv or the people around me. What I did not understand at the time, it was all an illusion and a optical trick played on me to get me to chase after it. I did not see behind the scenes at how they got what I wanted. Because if I had seen behind the curtain, I know I would not have continued onward. At least, sitting here now, I hope I would think that.
Including time, I spent a lot of money and carried a lot of debt. Which, when you are in debt, you are losing money every day. See the thing about debt, it destroys your life. It creates a false sense of security while you are under its influence. It keeps you back from pursing who you were really meant to be in life. It’s just like being addicted to drugs. Once you start using you become hooked and it’s very difficult to stop. It whispers in your ears, “It’s so easy and you know want more. It’s there for you to take. Just go on, one more time will not hurt, everything will be alright, trust me.”
It was all a lie.
While under its influence, I forgot about and failed to acknowledge the fundamentals of life. I turned a blind eye and ignored the warning signs, my future was in the here and now. I did not care what I needed to do to keep using and getting more. I never thought about how my actions would affect my tomorrow. And looking back, those clouds were so dark, ominous and filled with rain that drowned out my future for so many years.
It happened by accident. I was doing exactly as they instructed me to do; paying the minimum monthly amount. I erroneously thought, that by paying that amount, I would keep from hitting the account limit. Well, yea… about being young and stupid. I did not sit down and do the math, basic math and figure out that interest was being added, nay, being piled on every month. That I needed to make the minimum amount AND the interest charges to keep from hitting the ceiling.
The interest charges on the outstanding balance was so much, I went over my account limit and it was like sharks to blood. The credit card company jacked up my interest rate to over twenty percent! And there was another fee charged because I went over my limit. Man, was I ticked. So I called and their very nice customer service rep told me that it’s all in the customer agreement and no, they were not going to reverse the charges, and no, sorry sucker you are going to never get out of this. I think Paris Hilton has a word…. BITCHES!
I thought it was not fair and not right as most of us do, but I was stuck and there was nothing I could do about it. At least, not that day.
From that day onward, it was time to come clean and stop using. I sat down and did the math, just simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. There was no need to make this more complex than it needed to be. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, because if it worked for the credit card company, it should (AND DID) work for me.
I came up with a mathematical formula to get out of debt. It was rather simple, so simple in fact that it worked just as I planned. It took a while and I lost a lot more money, but I paid them back and cut up their card. (A side note, when you pay them back they love you more, they want to send you more cards, more nifty offers that entice you to spend your money with them.) Sorry Bitches, I am on a do not call list and you can take me off your mailing lists… per Federal Law! Yea, that was like… the best feeling in the world.
The next thing I did, which was just as difficult to swallow, was to admit that I had some problems. That I was suffering from low self-esteem and that was an underlying reason for why I tried to erect my own facade. So no one thought differently about me and always wanted me around. I did not understand that people would like me because I was nice to them, talked with them or liked to do the same things. Yea… that never occurred to me.
The second thing I needed to examine, was what exactly made me happy and why. I knew my two dogs made me happy, cycling made me happy, just hanging out with my friends and family made me happy, but the things I had, really didn’t make me as happy as I thought.
This time, the images were fixed. I am going to do the things that made me happy. I am going to head outside and play ball with my two dogs.. they loved me more and wanted to hang out with me. They would come down and sit on the couch (napping) and ‘watch’ hockey with me… damn cool little dogs. I discovered, that the more time I spent with people, the more we liked each other and got along. It was easier to talk with them about whatever in the world. I discovered so many common interests and it was not a struggle to find things to do. Weird…
I also looked at what I bought, thought about why I was buying it and if it really made my life better or served to support my facade. If it was the later, out the door it went. I had so many clothes that piled up in the closet that I did not wear. I called my very good friend and it was just like Christmas for him! A mostly new and gently used wardrobe! Yea… what a good friend. And that’s when I discovered what it meant to really be happy.
Doing those things really made me happy, I had better and closer friendships and that was what I was always chasing, searching for but could never catch up to.
What mirage are you chasing? Leave me a note and share with everyone too.