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  • Writer's pictureMarc Lalonde

There are things money can’t buy

I'm more keenly aware than ever of what I DON'T have. I realize now, more than ever, just how worthless that can make me feel

As I drive around the neighbourhood I live in, I’m stunned, and a little surprised by the cars that circulate when I drop off my children at their school. More than ever, I’m seeing a majority of quote-unquote ‘luxury brands’ of automobile that act also as visible representations of wealth and, I suppose, act as status symbols indicating a certain level of income.

It’s a jarring symbol as I maneuver my Subaru Outback in and out of the kiss-and-go drop-off point at the school, but I suppose it really shouldn’t be.

The Toyota Camrys and Honda Civics I used to see have been replaced by Audi Q4s, BMW SUVs and Merecedes-Benz C-Class sedans. It hasn’t been that long, either. My daughter started going to school there in 2010, and ten years later, I am witnessing a paradigm shift in how people express themselves.

Once upon a time, the ethos was to not show people how much money you had, but merely to be content with the notion that you had it. Broadcasting your wealth and stature is one of those things that has changed as the social-media age has progressed. I mean, when Instagram ‘influencers’ rent out clapboard McMansions for the sole purpose of pretending (or pretensing?) that they are living a life of privilege with no responsibility. Livin’ the sweet life reserved for only the most beautiful among us. Seems like a dream come true.

Yes, it’s true the image of some hardbody 20-something hanging out by an infinity pool with no job and no kids running around asking for snacks is an appealing one, but it’s a fucking illusion. Just like when David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear on national TV. Guess what? It never moved!

I’m in a constant tug-of-war in my mind and I know that when I get home and I’m with my kids, it doesn’t matter what kind of car I drive or how much money I make. I got what I need, and I got what I want.

Yeah, I might like to drive something with German engineering down the road, or even take a vacation just because I feel like it, but I think part of getting older and growing up means you come to terms with what you do and what you don’t do – and coming to accept that has been a big part of what has shaped me as a person – especially in the last five years.

Social media is largely bullshit. Its siren song calls to us when we are at our lowest of energy – often at the end of the work day or after the kids are in bed. Our energy – and by extension – our ability to process the images we are seeing as part of someone else’s reality is often at its lowest at this time, and that can send otherwise right-thinking people down the rabbit hole of envy.

‘Why can’t my butt look like that? I want to be on a private jet, too! I want to go to that fun place with those fun people,’ are all examples of things we can say to ourselves when we surf Facebook or Instagram, especially when it comes to accounts belonging to people we don’t know in real life.

I’m no different. I sit on my easy chair at night, scrolling Instagram , and I wonder to myself if I’ve been right about things. If I’ve been right about not valuing material things and fancy cars and financial success. I’ve only ever been concerned with how do I feel? How does my work make me feel? How does my job fulfill and enrich me?

I wonder if I’ve had it wrong this whole time?

These are the questions I ask myself. Have I done enough? Will I ever do enough? Are my dreams stuck in my throat not because I’m preoccupied with my own station in life enough?

This feels like a pretty raw nerve to expose here, but I wonder at times if I’ve done enough for my kids.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m also sure that those of you who feel the same and aren’t possessed of a blog site from which to broadcast their vulnerability are hopefully agreeing with me right now.

I just think that no one wants to feel alone. And that’s how I feel right now.

It could be a function of me just allowing the malaise of the SECOND FUCKING LOCKDOWN to creep in, and I wonder, ‘will my kids’ lives ever be normal again?’ I want to go places. I want to see my family. I JUST WANT TO GO LIFT WEIGHTS IN A GYM, FFS.

I’m most heartbroken for my kids, though. The kids, who are missing out on sports, a social life and the most basic, human things. Laughter. Companionship. Peer-to-peer conversation and understanding. The thrill of a sports event, a challenge met, a happy team effort and the possibility and magic that exists in every interaction where parents are not present. Anyone else remember being between the ages of 11 and 19? If your parents were someplace, you were generally not there. It was just a function of the natural order of things.

I remember the day Quebec Premier Francois Legault shut down my son’s football season (which was outdoors) and my daughter’s hockey season (which had been almost fully underway). That same day, he also forced my daughter to stay home from school every second day and I’m sure that's a just another another half-assed measure that somehow blames diligent families for spreading this virus, when the reality is it was young adults and bar-goers who decided life was back to normal this summer despite, you know, it not being actually life as normal. A source close to the premier’s office in Quebec tells me that gyms and sports were closed because the bar owners insisted they also be closed, if bars were to be closed as well. Think I'm wrong? Fight me.

Am I doing enough? Can I do more? What do I want out of my life? Can I ever go back to the gym?

I don't know. I just don't know. In fact, I don't think I know much of anything anymore.

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