Zef and I went to see Larry Crowne this afternoon. The premise of the movie is that Larry loses his wife, his job, his house and his purpose until he decides to go to college. A kooky band of scooter riding college kids and Julia Roberts as his college professor help turn things around for Larry. I give it three out of five stars. I love Julia Roberts, but bitter doesn’t suit her. Anyway, that’s beside the point. What I did love was the way Larry started shedding his possessions — first out of necessity, then out of preference. It completely freed him to be who he wanted to be. I was secretly jealous of Larry’s new found freedom.
I love a good purging. I have too much stuff. I hate tripping over stuff. Once I start tripping over things, my emotional stability starts to go. I’ve read several times that one of the strategies for getting over anxiety, or really any emotionally volatile situation, is to put something in order. The physical act of organizing actually calms the mind. Take my dresser top for instance. At the moment I have: three containers of mineral makeup, one open book, one pair of sunglasses, two Sweaty Bands, two barrettes, three bottles of lotion (two practically empty), one bottle of sunscreen, one Irish sheepdog stuffed animal wear a tiara and a button that says, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish!”, one jewelry box, one candle, one stick of BodyGlide, the band for my heart rate monitor, one stick of deodorant, one pack of baby wipes and about twenty pairs of earrings all on the top of my dresser. I do actually use all of it, but that’s a lot of stuff. Maybe being free of all of that stuff to dig through, I wouldn’t be such a nut in the mornings.
In the movie, even though Larry lost all of this physical positions, he gained financial freedom. He got rid of the SUV and got a scooter. He gave up his house for an apartment. Some of that came with a penalty, but he was still free from the burden of owing, owing, owing. I would say the biggest accomplishment that Z and I have made is freeing ourselves from debt. It was hard and it took time and it took strategy, but we did it. Without the entanglements of a pile of monthly bills, we are free to explore our options. I love that. Forget the Joneses and their too big houses full of stuff and their revolving credit. I don’t need it and I’m happier for it. I mean, sure, there are trade offs. I am driving an eight year old Honda with 123,000 miles on it. I’ve been sitting on a down payment for a new car for over a year because I just can’t seem to sign the papers for a new loan. I swear it’s like signing away a piece of your freedom! OK, so maybe that’s melodramatic, but you can’t see my point, can’t you? Surely somewhere in the Declaration of Independence there is a line about being free from material entrapments. Do you think Ben Franklin would have been the type of guy to trade in his car every two years? I think not.
Maybe I have a fear of commitment. Maybe a husband and a mortgage are about all of the obligation I can bear. Maybe that’s why I waited so long before wanting children. But maybe it’s not a fear of commitment at all, maybe it’s a love of freedom. The freedom to explore and move and create and be. Kind of like Larry Crowne and his free wheeling scooter. That’s the kind of freedom I’ll light a sparkler for.