Monday, April 12, 2010

Sleepwalking (by Billy Coffey)


Take a walk through my town and you’ll likely see more than one person who reminds you of yourself, if only on the inside—generally middle class, generally happy, generally a little worried about the state of things.

We walk the balance beam of prosperity here. Most have neither too much nor too little, and for the most part we’re good with that. We have enough to get by, enough to dream of having more, and enough to feel like we’re living our lives the way we’re supposed to.

There are exceptions, of course. Some have a lot of money and don’t mind telling you. Others struggle to make sure there’s dinner on the table. Me, I’ve always thought it was the rich people who had to be more careful about money than the poorer folks. The more you have, the more you want. That’s what I always say.

Money is a snare, Paul said in his first letter to Timothy. I think that’s true. I’ve seen a lot of people ruined by it. And not just the rich.

Enter Danny.

Danny lives in a modest home in a modest neighborhood, which is appropriate considering he has a modest family. Wife, daughter, son, and two dogs he takes hunting with him every year. Like most everyone else, Danny’s family has enough. More than enough, really. But for him, it’s always been too little. His job at the grocery store provides his family with the necessities of life. They have the shelter and the food and the clothing. But he’s always dreamed of having more.

The 1985 Chevy truck he drives to work can get him there, which is okay. But it can’t get him there in style, which would be even better. And his home, a twenty-year-old double wide with leaky faucets and drafty windows, is comfortable. But it’s not fancy. And if there is anything Danny wants in life, it’s a good dose of fancy.

Unfortunately for him, such a lifestyle cannot normally be gotten by stocking cans of chicken noodle soup and mopping floors. All Danny knows is groceries. Ask him where any item is, and he can tell you. A can of beans not labeled? Danny knows the price. Want to know how to tell a good watermelon from a bad one? Ask him. He’s given his life to the grocery store. Been there nearly twenty years.

But that’s where his talents end. Danny’s been given the opportunity over the years to climb the corporate ladder. Those grocery store managers don’t live in double-wides and drive twenty-year-old trucks, he says. But he’s found that some of the rungs on that ladder are missing, and he’s always ended up back where he started.

“I just don’t have much business sense,” he told me.

To him, he’s stuck. Stuck stocking shelves and emptying boxes and handling the cash register when someone calls in sick. And it makes him miserable. His is not a bad life, and he’ll admit that. But it is neither a good life, and that eats at him.

Still, he dreams of better things. He always carries around one of those free homes books so he can dream of where he wants to live and hate where he lives now. And the other day he got to sit in Travis Campbell’s new Chevy. Which just reminded him of how bad his own truck looks, of course.

I often wonder if what Danny would think if he lost what little he had. If he woke up one day and found his family and his home and his job gone. And I wonder, too, if I’m not a lot like him in some ways. I tend to look around at what everyone has and forget about all I’ve been given, too.

So I’ve made myself a promise. I’m going to be happy with what I have. No doubt I’ll still dream. Dreaming is good. But not when it keeps you asleep to your blessings.

And in the meantime, I’ll say a prayer for Danny. I hope he wakes up, too. Because as far as I can tell, he’s the only poor person I’ve ever known who was ruined by money.

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To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

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P.S. - I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish my friend Wendy A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


Now, y'all go over to her blog, Weight...What? and do that same, kay?

12 comments:

L.T. Elliot said...

"Dreaming is good. But not when it keeps you asleep to your blessings"

Well said, Billy. Setting my alarm clock...NOW!

Cassandra Frear said...

I grew up in a large family without much.

I can tell you that many poor people are ruined by money, even though they don't have much.

It is the LOVE of money that is destructive, not its presence.

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." (1 Tim 6:10 ESV)

I like your piece here very much. Love your writing, Billy.

Maureen said...

Excellent post.

The wanting of stuff impoverishes.

Helen said...

Very thought provoking, as always. I don't think I covet money and objects, but there are other things that I do. I wonder if that gets in the way of appreciating what I have. Probably. Who am I kidding? Definitely.

S. Etole said...

I've always liked what Paul said about learning to be content in whatever state we find ourselves ...

Dusty Rayburn said...

If we only had X we would be happy, is a sickness that knows no monetary discretion.

Every one of us is in the pursuit of happiness...be it money or things (which require money).

True happiness can only be found in Christ. Our measure and out worth is not decided by what we have, but by what He gave.

♥ Kathy said...

I have dreams of having money...when I'm asleep :) When I'm awake I make due with what I have and I'm happy 99% of the time. We all get down sometimes but if there's nothing you can do, there's nothing you can do and why not be happy ♥

jasonS said...

Great post- this whole money thing can get us twisted up every which way.

Lord, help us see you and the blessings you've given us...

Katie said...

I endeaver with a fierce determination that I never forget I have nothing that all that God has put me in charge of is His and His alone whether it be millions or just hundreds, it's what God deemed and I'm thankful for it because I choose to be thankful for it. Its freeing to me to be the one with the beater upper vehicle or the nameless brand clothes. Freeing from the energy and mental focus to have to do what ever it is that needs to be done to have enough to finally be rich enough or well off enough and satisfied. Satisfied with very little makes everything else just icing on the cake.

Graceful said...

I don't know too many people who don't have a little bit of Danny in them. Personally, I have more than my fair share. I am an envyer (is that a word?) and a coveter. Sure my house is quaint. Sure my table always has food on it. But wouldn't a master suite be roomier, a place I didn't have to step over piles of boys' discarded clothes on the bathroom floor. A place where the toothpaste cap was always put back on the tube?

You are so very right. Apreciating and noticing the many, many blessings we have. It takes a reminder like this to snap me awake to them all. Thanks.

~*Michelle*~ said...

Great post! Def. makes you think....and appreciate what you have.

Seven years ago we cut our income in half (our own choice)....you would think it would be disastrous.

I will admit that it was a little uncomfortable at first....but when we addressed the "wants" vs. "needs"....we got creative and guess what, we are still here....and happy.

I will also admit that there are days when I think about the luxury we had of being able to take vacations when we wanted or not having to check our checking account balance as part of my daily morning duties.

But I do know that we are blessed beyond the finance dept...and have a roof over our head, a running car to put gas in(I am styling in a '01 Caravan, Baby!) and a fridge full of food for all these kids that call our house a home. (we seem to "adopt" at least 3-4 extra teens each weekend)

Can't put a price on that.

Duane Scott said...

I love this, Billy. It gives me determination to keep my eyes on what I've got with the occasional quick look at what I don't. Just to keep dreamin' you know.

Katdish, I just watched the entire video for @weightwhat. I can't believe it. I'm going to update my FB status.

Duane Scott just got done watching 4 minutes of guys in tights dancing to an awful song.