expensive vs. costly.

When I’m sad—especially the sadness that comes when my daughters aren’t with me—there are some things I like to do for comfort. I go to the Portland Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings. I go to Whole Foods to get a small (ha!) chocolate ganache cake and a container full of fancy quinoa/kale/beans/wheatberries kinds of salads. I might buy a few oil pastels that I’ve been doing without.

The meat I buy at the farmers’ market is from animals that have lived relatively happy lives and were butchered on the humane side of slaughtering. I don’t pretend that harvesting meat from animals is anything but brutal, but the farther away from a factory killing site the better. In other words, the meat I buy is expensive.

As I was going through some of these “soothe myself” activities today, I thought about living without enough money but choosing to spend the little I have on things like expensive meat and chocolate cake.

Expensive: meat from animals that lived happy lives and were killed in small, local slaughterhouses.
Costly: purchasing meat that feels like I’m eating death and feces; teaching my children that industrial farming is fine and dandy and harmless.

Expensive: chocolate ganache cake, gourmet salads, and oil pastels.
Costly: dismissing my sadness as something I should make go away; pretending everything is okay.

As I learn to live within my very limited means, I won’t put aside my personal values. Most of the time, I find inexpensive alternatives to those things I might’ve done in the past. I download my audiobooks from the library, for example. Or I brew my own coffee or make my own gourmet salads with stuff I have on hand or growing in the garden. At times, making the more expensive choice is an investment in my quality of life. If it’s my upper-class upbringing that makes me think this way, so be it. Small pleasures or purchases consistent with my values –> contentment –> emotional strength –> less stress –> better choices (more sleep, for example) –> living mindfully and in the present moment = not only surviving but really living, full of gratitude and joy. Sometimes I choose the more expensive option because the alternative costs too much.

4 thoughts on “expensive vs. costly.

  1. Lovely post. We used to go to WF once in a while and each get a truffle from the chocolate counter. I can’t say that I remember ordinary meals like spaghetti & jarred sauce, but I do remember things like a crusty baguette with a good cheese and a chocolate truffle for dessert. I’ve gone back and forth on the local meat issue: I prefer it, but can’t always justify the cost in my brought-up-by-Depression-Era-parents brain. So kudos. And you deserve the chocolate, it’s one of the five food groups, you know!

  2. I personally don’t feel that your choices require any justification. So many people live well beyond their means using credit to buy the newest and best of everything that they don’t really need. Choosing to support local and sustainable farmers, less cruelty to animals, healthier food for your body and happiness for your soul seems to me to be the ultimate good and noble choice. I also live on limited means, but choose, whenever possible, to buy the highest quality food that I can. It is far wiser to splurge on things that nourish your body and spirit, than to splurge on the newest iPhone or clothes. So many people seem to be able to afford those, but organic food is too expensive! It is all a matter of priorities, and it seems to me that yours are in the right place.

    • Ah, well, when you agree with my choices they don’t need justifying, do they. :-) I hear what you are saying, though. It’s not always easy for me to avoid thinking other people are making shitty choices when I see what they are doing. Smoking around their children, for example. One of the biggest lessons this experience has been teaching me, though, is that unless I’m in those shoes of that person, I can’t possibly know how or why that choice makes sense. Maybe the person smoking the cigarette by their baby has… escaping an abusive relationship? on their mind and their priority can’t be cutting back on smokes. That’s a sort of stereotypical example, but I think it fits.

      Still, when I waffle around about my choices I do sometimes remember there will always be people who “get it” about whatever choice I’ve made. Most people I know “get it” that there are rarely any purely “right” choices anyway.

      Thanks for reading (and replying!). :-)

Leave a Reply