Saturday, June 7, 2008

You Have to Want to Need it.

Grand Prix weekend in Montreal: The unofficial launch of summer, and my favourite weekend of the year here. I’ve been working a little PR gig for a restaurant/night club this week and have found it to be a fascinating human study. My presence in Montreal’s infamous restaurants and night clubs is not newsworthy; but it’s interesting how one’s perspective changes (on anything, really), when one observes through a different lens. Lens one: I was working, so remained on the fringe of the festivities for the most part (save a fairly serious breakaway last night that suddenly had me hip-hopping in the VIP lounge with Nick Cannon and his crew...What can I can take the girl out of PR...). This (mostly) non-participatory stance afforded me a wonderful perch from which to observe. Lens two: I have no income and have been spending the last 39 days deconstructing my notions of what money is, what it means, what it does and what it doesn’t do. More on this later.

So there I was and there they were. North American and European glitterati pulling up to the valet parking in their hi-gloss Ferraris and Maseratis, sashaying to the front of the line in their designer wear; on the guest list, no waiting. The best tables, the best service, the best-looking women. I am curious about them and would like to follow a group of them around for a week and see what their everyday lives are like. I mean this in a very non-stalking way, of course.

“Bottle service” is de rigueur in Montreal’s hot spots. On the menu at this particular club is a 6-litre bottle of vodka, with a price tag of $2,000. I noted at least a dozen of them scattered on tables throughout the restaurant at any given time. When the server portages one of these frosted-glass monstrosities through the throngs of partiers to its destination, she (they are all 8-foot-tall, impossibly gorgeous, 20-year-old she’s) sticks a sparkler in the top of the bottle to draw attention (to it and to herself, I imagine).

For $2k, I’d personally expect at least two sparklers.

What does it mean to be able to spend $2,000 on a bottle of vodka? What does money represent? (Don’t get bored here. Ask yourself anew. Put a new lens on it and really ask. It only hurts a little, I promise). What does it afford us? What does it take away from us? I would love to sweep you all off your feet and further secure your loyal readership with some fantastically articulate insights I’ve gained on my journey thus far. They’re coming, but I’m not ready to share them just yet.

What I can tell you is this: between what we want and what we need there exists a huge chasm, as old as commerce itself. The chasm houses a turbulent, rushing river where many of us live out our daily lives; caught in the currents and whirlpools that spin us ‘round, dizzy us and confuse our minds about the difference between want and need. We all know that nobody needs a $2,000 jug of spirits. But I am in the the enviable position of having to apply this same evaluation to every single thing in my life now – things that many of us take for granted on any given day, to varying extremes. And it is refreshing, and eye-opening, and frustrating, and humbling, and inspiring. It makes me giddy to discover how little one truly needs.

I am not bitter. I am not holier-than-thou. There is no soap box here. I am not railing against the haves because I’ve joined the ranks of the have-nots. (And let’s do a quick reality check here. A have-not is the family in Bangladesh who now has to exist on one bowl of rice a day instead of two, due to the worldwide rice crisis. A have-not is the woman still searching for her child in a pile of rubble in China. A have-not is any of the 8,000 Canadians who filed for bankruptcy in the month of April.) I am thankfully not any of these.

I chose this. And I feel that I have more now than perhaps ever before in my life. And when I am done editing, everything that I have will be everything that I need.

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything. Chuck Palahniuk


Jan said...

Ok. Cara, your writing is wonderful and I love the thought process that you are working through. Beautiful... don't stop.

Nick's Games said...

Money, money,'s usually our biggest bugaboo. Thanks for your insights. I am sure this is still processing...

Nick's Games said...

I'm am not nick's games! LOL. I think that is my little brother's id. I don't know how it got hooked up with my login. This is Christina!

Tania said...

Love to read you. You've given us all something to think about daily...