Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Plastic Spiders...

It's plastic spider season! It's the time of year when thousands of useless plastic doodads will cross everyone's path, especially parents and kids, in the days leading up to Halloween. The plastic stuff will kick around for a while and then be thrown out to be replaced by Christmas plastic doodads right around the corner.

Thinking about plastic spiders leads me to think about how my life might have gone.

My life has not gone in a straight path. I think that's probably true for lots of people as well, I know I'm not alone in that. I didn't finish college *hangs head in shame* and I never had a business career despite my tall height. My very successful aunt who worked in an advertising agency had told me that my height would be an advantage when I got a career--she thought that it could be intimidating...I never went that way, thanks though Aunt C.

When my husband and I were dating, I felt some regret--a lot of regret--that I hadn't finished school and that my life had taken some turns and twists and I felt that I had not gone the way I should have. Maybe I should have had a career in advertising as many in my family had had. I should have finished school at Harvard, Colombia, Penn State, Madison, Wheelock, Cornell, Yale, Dartmouth, University of Chicago or any of the other places people in my family have successfully had academic careers and then went on to stellar business careers. I shouldn't have dropped out and been aimless and depressed and married to the wrong guy and then stayed with him too long and...and...and.

My husband, boyfriend at the time, pointed out to me that the business world is not all it's cracked up to be. He shared his very insightful world view and explained that the giant freighters filled with giant cartons of plastic spiders chugging their way across the ocean from China were the result of several business meetings and angry phone calls and refining of designs and always looking at the bottom line. How could we shave the plastic spider cost--could we shorten the legs and still have a good design? Could we use a cheaper plastic? Could we make the body more narrow? Are there other vendors we can get material from? Can we use some of that slave prison labor in China?

Really? You're kidding me, right? But, of course he wasn't kidding me. These products really are made and people really are having earnest discussions with one another about spider legs and vendor costs. How are plastic spiders going to be made unless people design them and figure it all out? It could just as easily be kitchen knives or makeup or power tools. It's all the same discussion. At least until all of the jobs are outsourced.

My husband telling me all of that did make me feel better. There would be no way I would want my life spent figuring out how to shave the cost off of plastic spider legs. Of course, I could have done other things than pursue a lucrative career in plastic spider production, but it's still OK that my life took a crazy route--I saw different things and learned different things than I would have if my life had gone straight down the middle. I learned a lot, actually.

My life is wonderful now. I love my husband and my two kids. I love our lifestyle. I love our friends--I really do. They are a wonderful community of support and endless stimulation. I know really interesting, creative people. I love my family, and only wish that we could see one another more often.

So, it's OK that I had a certain trajectory with my life and then got off course. That landed me here and not with the plastic spiders. My human loves are greater than any business love would have been. I'm not knocking anyone else if they want to design the spiders and have earnest phone calls about it all. Go for it. I'm just saying that I prefer to be earnest about this election, for example, because it's too important not to care. I'd rather get worked up about making sure my kids have a sense of kindness and justice and fairness. I feel lucky that I get to care about the things in life that I feel are important and seldom do I feel compelled to care about things that aren't...like plastic spiders from China.


Lydia said...

Kind of unrelated or tangential but I've had reason to notice frequently, in the last month or so, the things that people have earnest conversations about that I think are ridiculous.

Which leads me to wonder what things *I* like to discuss earnestly that most people would find silly or trivial, you know?

There are all kinds of corporate minutae that seem ridiculous, and maybe some are, but of course in these details are people's lives and attention and focus. They'd probably think knitting or 19th century Amerian lit or methods of teaching reading are worthless topics, while I find them *incredibly* fascinating. ;D ;D

Laura said...

Point well taken. My husband designs stuff for a company...a company that makes STUFF. His working is how we pay the bills, only used things of course, and we are grateful that his job allows us to live as we do. That said, he finds his job ridiculous--he's tired of the conversations about minutae.

I guess my bigger point is that it is OK that I didn't finish school and end up earnestly talking about plastic spiders and instead am raising 2 incredible kids and thoroughly enjoying my life.

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