Friday, September 14, 2012

Choose Enough

A week and a half ago, on opening day, I ordered my first-ever Colts shirt.  It arrived Monday, one day past home team kickoff, but this Sunday is a-comin' and I'm looking forward to sporting my pride.

I waited until opening day because I was anticipating a sale at this particular online retailer to honor the kickoff, and it turns out that I was right.  This left me, however, with a bit of a dilemma.

I'd been looking at team shirts since early summer and found one that was my typical style and something that drew me in, but it was $42 at the only shop I could find that carried it.  That's too much for a shirt; I don't care what logo is on it.  So I kept looking.  And I found this other shirt that, as an artist, I simply appreciated.  Quite a lot.  I bookmarked that and waited for a sale.

As opening day drew near, I went back to the site where I'd bookmarked the second shirt (at a more reasonable $24 regular price) and browsed through the entire collection one last time to make sure I had settled on the right one for my taste.

And there it was.  The same $42 shirt I'd regretted turning my back on earlier, listed now at this site for a still-outrageous but slightly more reasonable $34.  Not knowing yet if there would be a sale or what would be the details, I added both to my cart - the $24 and the $34 shirts - and bookmarked my cart so that I could regularly check back in on prices.

Then I did what all good girls do: I sent pictures of both to a handful of family and friends and asked which one I should buy.  (Before I grew out of my tomboy and into my curvy petite small, did you know I could do such a thing as confidently choose my own clothes?  What happened to me?)

The absolute consensus was: get both!

I can't afford both, I protested.

Splurge, they insisted.  Because most people who know me well enough to weigh in on my wardrobe know I also don't spend much on myself and really labor to be money-conscious.  I prefer to think of myself as a good steward of what I'm given.  That is, I live within my means.  Is that such a bad thing?  And still they all persisted - get both.

The morning of opening night: sale.  Suddenly, I could afford reasonably both, with the grand total to be just a few dollars over what I had anticipated to spend before I'd started looking.  I was checking availabilities and finalizing my cart and ready to begin the digital checkout process...and I suddenly realized I didn't want both.  I never wanted both.  Why was I about to buy both?

I've never owned a Colts shirt.  Or any football shirt for that matter.  I've been more of a homebody and a couch warmer, and I didn't understand why I needed to don myself in my team colors to be a "fan."  But I went downtown Indianapolis for the Super Bowl festivities last February and I just got swept up in this fantastically awesome huge thing that was so much bigger than myself, and I was surrounded by other people all caught up in the same thing even if they weren't Colts fans.  It was the larger family of football...and I think that's the kind of thing we all want to be a part of, at least in some place in our hearts.  That thing that's so much bigger than we are.

That's when I knew I wanted a Colts shirt.  But the steward in me was also patient enough to wait for the right one.  Thankfully, this season had it.

Yet I was keenly aware that to have both shirts...just clashes with the way I live and with what I was wanting to do here.  I've never been attached to stuff.  A few sentimental things here and there maybe, but not in the grand scheme of things.  And I'm easily overwhelmed by clutter.  I just don't have a need for a lot of the extra stuff.  Something about the idea of having both shirts felt immediately in my gut like too much.

Like I'd be selling out instead of sold out.  It's a line I don't want to cross.  In anything.

It's about finding my place in this thing that's bigger than me without getting swallowed up by it, and I think it's too easy to be at either extreme - too bought in and too held out.  That middle ground is tough.

So I sat and I stared and I prayed and I just looked and studied and decided that I truly only wanted one, and the one I truly only wanted was the one that felt the least like I might have always been and the most like what maybe I ought to be.  I cleared out my cart and purchased just that.  And I couldn't be happier.

There are still people who can't fathom why I wouldn't buy both.  The math speaks for itself.  By sale prices, I could have paid full-price for the one and received the other at a mere $7.  Seems like a bargain.  Makes fiscal sense.

But I don't think we ever have to be in this place where we take all we can get from the world and stuff it into our lives.  I don't think that's working for anybody.  Is it?  Is that working for you?  I feel like when I get too much stuff around me, it doesn't belong to me any more; I belong to it.  I'm much happier with the simple things...and in this case, the simple thing was choosing one.  It was choosing enough.

Enough to live as a sold-out Colts fan.  Which, I know, isn't looking so promising so far this season, but I believe in the blue.

Choosing enough gives me the space to be intentional about the way I'm living.  You just can't put a price on that.

And I guess I made a good choice because I wore that new shirt to the Blue Friday pep rally this mid-day, and one of the official Colts cheerleaders struck up a conversation about that very shirt.  It was so cute, she concluded, and just had to know where I got it from.  I know I made a good choice because I sure felt good standing there in it.  Standing there in a sea of blue, chatting it up with one of the ladies in was just what I was looking for.  I was, as I had engaged myself to do so, swept up in this thing bigger than me.  This Colts crazy.  It was awesome.

Build the monster.

(While I did tell the cheerleader where I purchased my shirt, I am withholding that information from this blog for the time being.  It is not that I don't want you all to buy the same shirt (but I don't; it's not as fun when everybody's got one.  Don't copy me.).  It's that I have ended up entangled in a customer service dispute with the online retailer, and I do not want to appear to endorse them (or smear them) until they have had adequate opportunity to respond.  It's a grace thing.)

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