The most rewarding Good Thing is that we have both become acutely aware of when we are enjoying ourselves.
In that last few months of the Good Times (may they rest in peace), I was taking it all so much for granted. I look back now and feel a bit embarrassed and revolted by my excess and thoughtless consumerism.
Every day was filled with great bottles of wine, eating out at expensive restaurants, new clothes, grocery shopping at Woolies and buying any book I wanted – it became hard to know when something was really special or important.
Consumerism is a bit of an addiction, really. Once you start to have everything you want, getting what you want has no joy in it. It’s just normal. So you need more and bigger and better to get even the slightest rush of pleasure.
I wasn’t just a product consumer; I also consumed a lot of services. It felt good to be able to meet my needs without imposing on anyone else. I was independent of family and friends because it was so easy to buy the support I needed – babysitters, drivers, entertainment for the kids, office managers, caterers. Whatever the problem, there was always a paid-for solution.
Not so much any more… And while I am praying for the return of the Good Times, there are some really Good Things about not operating in the consumerist-frenzy of 2006/7.
The most critical is how much I can enjoy myself. Having a glass of wine at my sister-in-law’s house while our children all dance like mad things to World Cup Anthems is a delight.
Having a client lunch and eating a fillet that actually melts in my mouth is more that I can express in words. (At one point I may actually have closed my eyes.)
Coming home late at night after a long day in Johannesburg and finding a hot-water bottle at the bottom of my bed, put there by someone who loves me and has thought about me, is enough to bring tears to my eyes.
I know when I am being cared for because these days it's a gift. And whether the care comes from my family and friends or from myself, it’s a deliberate, thought-out choice rather than an unconscious, automatic sating of a half-considered desire.
So I say to the gods: I have leant my lesson. Bring back the Good Times. I can handle them now.
Bring them back!