Barry Smith: Irrelativity
December 1, 2008
You don’t need me to point out that these are tough times, you can listen to any news source screaming it at you 24/ 7.
But if we ( you, me, a few of your friends) are going to make it through this rough economic patch, we need some wisdom to guide us. I think I have just the wisdom for us ” the wisdom of my Grandmother, Nannie.
I’m not sure how my Grandmother came to be called Nannie, given that all the grandmothers around us were “Mee Maw” and “Maah Maw” and “Maw Maw,” but that’s what we called her ” Nannie.
Nannie grew up very, very poor in deep, deep Mississippi. She walked to school in shoes that were too small. Seriously. She raised lots of kid ” her own ( 3), her brother’s ( 3), us grandkids ( 4). So she was no stranger to doling out wisdom.
Nannie is no longer with us, but I believe that her wisdom can help guide us through these troubled (economic) times.
“You don’t need all that mess!”
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Any extraneous item was condemned by Nannie as “mess.” Like what? Wrestling magazines. Records. Computers. I remember telling her about this cool thing I saw in the mall, a TRS- 80. A computer! Wow. The guy at the store said it would even balance your checkbook! She pointed out that you didn’t need all that mess to balance a checkbook ” it’s just simple addition and subtraction. Not to take anything away from my love and respect for Nannie and her wisdom, but I’m glad Steve Jobs wasn’t one of the kids she raised.
But she had a point. How much “mess” do we have in our lives? Chairs? People can sit on the floor and be just fine. Pants? Animals don’t have pants. Salad spinners? Hey, in her day, Nan nie had to actually hold the damp let tuce leaves and physically spin around in circles, creating her own centrifugal force that would coax the droplets from the leaves. She didn’t need all that mess. And neither, I’d assert, do we.
“Y’all stop runnin’, rompin’, rippin’, scratchin’ and tearin’!”
As I mentioned, Nannie always had kids around. Kids need boundaries. Any rambunctious activity by these kids always fell under the above categories. Sometimes these actions were literal ” if you were runnin’ and she wanted you to stop, she’d say so ” but usually she’d just let loose with a free-form jazz-like combo of the above mentioned transgressions. A noisy game of hide’n’seek might be met with a “Y’all stop rippin’ runnin’ and scratchin’!” There was no point in trying to debate whether or not you were actually engaged in “rippin’.” The thing is, you knew you were doing something wrong. Just stop ” that’s that point.
Think about your own life for a moment. Are you rompin’? Rippin’ (economically or other wise)? Tearin’? Yes, you are. And you have been for quite a while.
“Don’t sit up all night!”
This was what I heard every Saturday evening between 1977 and 1980. Nannie and Papa went to bed around 9 o’clock, but I needed to watch Saturday Night Live, which didn’t start until 10:30, so clearly I was in danger of “sitting up all night.” Without this reminder they’d surely find me there, “sittin’ up,” when Sunday morning rolled around.
How are you (financially) “sittin’ up” in your (economic) life? Figure it out, then don’t. And thank Nannie along the way.
Nannie would say this when she was angry or frustrated because she felt that it wouldn’t be good to say “Oh, shit!” If an ‘F’ was required, because sometimes an ‘S’ isn’t quite strong enough, it was “Oh, foot!”
Harsh words, indeed.
Couldn’t we benefit from a bit of personal restraint? I’m no economist, but isn’t it true that if, economically speaking, more of us had (financially) said “Oh, sugar” rather than “Oh, shit,” things wouldn’t be in the state they’re now in?
Yes, of course it’s true. And Nannie knew this all those years ago.
“Barry, stand up straight! And brush your hair!”
We can probably all stand to improve our (financial) posture, right? Having good posture is the essence of “holding your (econom ic) head high.”
As far as the hair brushing, well, it might have been true once, but now it’s obviously a metaphor for my (financial) hair.
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