For you baseball fans, tonight is the night you get to watch most of your heroes at one time: it's the annual All-Star game. I haven't watched it for several years, but will tune in to this year's version because it is being played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO, my hometown. Over the years of my youth, I spent many, many days at this stadium cheering on the KC Royals and my local heroes. In fact, I was one of the lucky few to attend the very first Royals game played there!
One of the pitchers for the National League is R.A. Dickey. He is a 37 year old phenom! There is a great article by columnist Scott Miller at CBS Sports about the travails in his life, including being a victim of sexual abuse as a youth, and how learning to throw the knuckleball has rejuvenated his career. It is an inspiring tale, to be sure.
But this post isn't about sports. It's about something Dickey recently said, something that I believe people should take to heart. Dickey, who now earns millions of dollars to throw a baseball, said, "I always try to live below my means. That's good to practice. It's provided me with security I had no right to expect."
While I'm really confident that Dickey's current lifestyle is higher than most Americans, he still seems to be echoing Lao Tzu's suggestion that we each live a simple life. When we live a life of extremes -- near or above our means -- we expose ourselves to the real possibility of going off the rails.
What happens if we become seriously injured or ill? What happens when our skills begin to diminish? What happens when we begun too drunk with our own success or popularity? What happens if the rug is pulled out from under us?
If we have been living beyond our means, it typically means we have set ourselves up for a great fall. There are scads of stories about people who one day lived in a penthouse only to die penniless in a flophouse! While the fall often isn't that dramatic, it still can be a shock to the system. We find that aspects of our lives that we too often took for granted now are part of the everyday struggle to survive.
Throughout our time together -- almost 30 years -- Della and I generally have lived below our means. We did so when we were middle class and we do so now that we are decidedly poor. We purchase very few frivolous things and we keep to a strict budget month after month. We don't have much of a margin these days, if things were to head south! So living below our means today may well keep us from living out of our car tomorrow.
This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.