There’s a sentimental old ballad from the sixties performed by Peggy Lee called Is That All There Is? In it she sings about the disappointments of childhood, the heartbreak of young love and the grim adult realization that the things we strive for in life rarely turn out as planned. Even the notion of having it all conjures a spoiled kid surrounded by so many toys that she’s too busy clutching them to actually play. Full disclosure: I’m a born and raised Methodist turned wannabe Buddhist. I dabble more than I practice, but every now and then a grain of that ancient wisdom seeps into my thick skull. Here’s a life-changing thought: What if we already have it all?
Beyond cars, homes, careers, handbags, death and taxes there is only the spirit, immutable and ungrasping. Everything else is on loan to us, our bodies included. The cultural conversation about having it all is necessary and real, especially because it starts to examine that age-old divide between the ‘haves and have nots’.
There’s no question that material wealth, race and class frame the debate. One woman frets about whether she can afford a holiday in Bali, while the other stretches a single income to feed a familty of four.
When I’m not pondering cultural issues for HelloBeautiful, I create ad campaigns for a living. It’s my job to convince people that the latest beauty cream/mini van/pasta sauce is the next step to personal fufilment. Buy this and your life will change for the better. I spent the summer in Singapore working on a beauty campaign that promised a better life through whiter, wrinkle-free skin. (I know.)But maybe the obsession with posessions and status is really just a postponement of death. Between work, family and the time-sucking labor of shopping, there’s simply no time to die. In a revealing article The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, a palliative nurse recorded the final regrets of her patients facing death. Of the many men and women she interviewed no one mentioned wishing for Louboutins, a nice whip, more money or prestige. In fact, material possessions didn’t make the list at all. As folks faced death, they regretted not allowing themselves happiness, contentment with what they had and deeper relationships with loved ones.
As I raced around the island in taxis determined to do it all and see it all around my grueling work hours, an elderly Singaporean taxi driver asked me if it was true that in everyone in America has his or her own large plate. In Asian cultures, communal meals with small plates are the norm and the idea of overfed Americans toddling from the buffet line with overburned plates piled high with food made him laugh. I sheepishly defended our culture that gave us that gave us the Pizzabon for a hot minute then stopped short. What if having too much on one’s plate has a literal meaning after all?And, maybe our national pasttime of overeating is just another way of trying to have it all while attempting to eat it all.
So, how do we have it all no matter what we have? Maybe it starts by dwelling in the right here, right now. Worried about the light bill? Take whatever action you can; then let it go. Slow down and dwell in contentment. With enough practice (prayer, meditation, or perhaps, hilarious internet cat video marathons), happiness becomes a habit.
Also On HelloBeautiful:
Celebs Tweet Their Thoughts About #JusticeForSandraBland
1. Jesse Williams
#SandraBland's treatment while attempting to travel freely on HER public roadways has been acknowledged as unlawful. She is already dead.
2. Taraji P. Henson
"SAY HER NAME #SandraBland"
3. Ava DuVernay
"'Why are you arresting me?' Because you know your rights. Because I can. Because no one'll believe you. #SandraBland"
4. Kim Kardashian
#WhatHappenedToSandraBland We need answers!!!! This is NOT ok! This is all shady! They need to own up to this & tell the truth!
5. Jussie Smollet
"A loss 4 words. #SandraBlandMatters #BlackLivesMatter 👈🏿tell me this should change once the nation shows that we do. "
6. Snoop Dogg
🙏🌹. Sandra. Rip. 🌹🌹
7. K. Michelle
R.I.P to this queen. This could've been any of us. My prayers go out to her family. #sandrabland https://instagram.com/p/5fvlO_AhCf/
8. Gabrielle Union
SAY HER NAME!!! #SandraBland #SandraBland #SandraBland #SayHerName
"We must get to the cause of #sandrabland death because this CANNOT happen again #deathorfreedom"
10. David Banner
"When will we fight back. A man's duty on earth is to protect women and children. Where are the gangsters? Preachers? We need you. Please."
11. Nicki Minaj
"Rest In Peace #SandraBland"
12. Talib Kweli
"We the people ask @LorettaLynch to investigate #SandraBland #KimberleeRandleKing RETWEET "
Signs. Signs. Signs all around us. The Message is Here. #SandraBland
14. Missy Elliot
"When I look at the #SandraBland traffic video it brings so many emotions😳😢😡😡😤!"
15. Jessie J
"God bless your soul Sandra | #sandrabland | Change needs to come |Justice needs to be served | Heart… https://instagram.com/p/5fV79mQ0aw/ "
16. Jackee Harry
"It's time y'all, it's time.." #SandraBland #BlackLivesMatter
"In memory of #SandraBland these things don't make no kinda sense "
18. Holly Robinson Peete
I really don't look forward to having ANOTHER difficult conversation w my kids tonight...but here we go again😧💔 #SandraBland #SayHerName 😢
19. Jeffrey White
Sadly, doesn't matter by whose hand she died. Unjustified arrested set the outcome in motion. The state murdered her. #JusticeForSandraBland
Sandra could have been your mother, sister, aunt, friend or if she wasn't killed the community outreach advisor A&M. #SandraBland
21. Joan Smalls
"My heart is broken. Sending my deepest condolence to her family and friends. May you find Strength, Peace and Justice. When will this stop? #EqualityForAll #RIP #Why #SayHerName
22. Gladys Knight
Sandra Bland.... #SayHerName #SandraBland
23. Cara Delevigne
Things need to change NOW #SANDRABLAND #Justice #Equality
24. Meek Mill
"Rip to that young lady that lost her life about a traffic stop! 🙏 ima make sure I pray for her and her family! 🙏😄😄😄"