Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I saw this image on Jenna Woginrich's blog quite awhile ago and it's been sitting in my Evernote files since. It's a celtic symbol for "friend".
I think a lot about friendship now- about relationships and community. Consumer culture has taught us that we don't need to have relationships anymore; there is always something that can be bought to replace whatever need compelled us to be neighbourly in the past. No one goes next door for the proverbial cup of sugar anymore. It almost seems rude now, bothering someone at home when there's a Walmart up the street. Privacy is highly prized, and it comes at a price.
They say that good fences make good neighbours, and I understand where that comes from, but I think that what really makes good neighbours is the knowledge that they are there for you, and vice versa, when the need arises.
To wrench our independence back from the hands of big box stores and corporate chains, we need to learn to rely on each other again. We need to raise up the systems of barter and trade from the dead; we need to be generous and kind and open our doors once in awhile.
The family that tends their community relationships with the same care that they tend their vegetable gardens is the model for how we need to learn to live in this new world. In my humble opinion.

This is on my mind in particular this morning as I just drove my son to daycare in our "new" second vehicle. Remember a few days ago I told you how we were struggling with the idea of giving up our second car and living with one? Well, not 48 hours later, our friends gave us a car. That's right. They just gave it to us. It had been gifted to them and they had been planning on insuring their oldest daughter on it so she could learn to drive, but when the insurance company quoted them an outrageous coverage premium, they decided it wasn't worth it, and since they knew what we were going through, they offered it to us free and clear. I almost cried with gratitude, especially at the transportation office when the unusually nice teller told us we didn't have to pay taxes on it since it was a gift.

So know we just need to decide what to do with our broke down Kia. We still have a loan on it, and the repair quotes are in the $1500-$2000 range. The options are:
1- fix and sell
2- fix and keep
3- fix and have it voluntarily repossessed
4- don't fix and have it voluntarily repossessed
5- don't fix and keep

Some of these are obviously silly, but those are all the options. We're not going to fix and keep it; we definitely don't need three cars. The payments are $181 biweekly, which would be a huge relief to get out of. If we give it up, we will still owe whatever the difference is between what the bank can get for it, and what we still owe on it, which is roughly the current value of the car (in working condition). It would also reflect badly on our credit, but our credit couldn't be any worse right now, so I'm not worried about that.

So we still have some tough decisions to make. But right now I'm not thinking about that. What I am thinking about is how incredibly valuable good relationships are. Not because you get free stuff. Because friends, family and neighbours are like a strong spider web- a net of safety that offers security for everyone without interest or payments. Relationships on all these levels are the best kind of investment you can make if you want to be free.

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