Sometimes I think about what I would do if I didn’t have any limits. It’s a creative diversion. I had a decal made for my vanity mirror a couple of years ago that says “What would you do if you couldn’t fail?” I have no trouble dreaming big. There is no point in dreaming small. But, I’m really challenged by believing that I can accomplish those big dreams.
Some of my dreams would require a huge influx of money from who knows where, like having several old growth sections of land (a section is a square mile or 640 acres) that I keep in an undisturbed natural state in perpetuity. I’d reserve a small segment, maybe 5%, of the land to be in farm and economic production to support everyone who lives with me and the rest would be my contribution to an E. O. Wilson’s Half Earth type adventure. I’d buy land that was at risk of development instead of land that was already protected because the point would be to save something that wouldn’t otherwise be saved. Here’s an early version of the productive part of that dream. I’ve since thought to add space for travel Trailers and tent campers to enjoy part of the land, even some boondock space and little libraries, probably a lot of other tweeks too. I haven’t looked at it in a while.
Living on a deserted or nearly deserted island is the Keiki O Ke Kai (child of the sea) fantasy. It has self-reliant sustainable Half Earth parts too, and at the same time it gets my toes in the sand, clean salty air in my lungs and ocean sunrises in my mornings.
Last week I was thinking about something indulgent, my wedding fantasy. I’ve been in a 20+ year exclusive relationship with the best guy. We’ve had one church wedding each. Those marriages didn’t last, so we’re both aware that a ceremony isn’t what makes a relationship stick. We have the commitment to each other, but not the budget for a shindig, so throwing a wedding became an “if we win the lottery” kind of a thought. The fantasy has been perking since long before Covid-19. So, it takes place in a neatly Covid free plane of existence.
I’d like to rent the entire block of rooms (50) at the lodge in Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica. We would hire a friend to fly a charter bringing in friends and family to fill the place. It’s a good thing we have a small family. I wonder how far in advance one has to reserve rooms to get all of them?
The ceremony would be outdoors with Volcan Arenal as a backdrop. I don’t know if Russ and his brother (his best man) would wear their (not yet owned) tartan kilts. It seems fun and Russ has great legs, but I’ll be happy to have him in whatever he chooses to wear. I’ll be in something simple and comfortable, somewhere between elegant and flower child. Maybe at this point, Russ and I should walk each other down the aisle, but I’d also be happy to have one or both of my children walk me or us down if they want to.
The music seals the deal on this dream for me, both in the lyrical setting and the sound. There won’t be microphones, amplifiers or speakers. The call to the ceremony would be an old spiritual “Tell Me Who Do You Call the Wonderful Counselor”. My sister’s junior college recorded the version I like. The man who sang it, Cottrell Johnson, had a powerful voice. I’ve never been able to find another version I like. People would be sitting around looking at the volcano and talking quietly over soft music, then someone with William Warfield pipes, maybe local talent, would belt it out acapella. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ll have goosebumps. Then he can sing “What a Wonderful World” Oh, yeeaah.
My granddaughter will sing with her cousin walking in as flower girls, a nod to “Mrs Delafeild Wants to Marry”, a favorite movie that I probably haven’t seen since it’s first air date. The girls can sing a song that Russ or their parents choose. The boys can participate too, but they are “that age” and will probably want to just watch (or run away).
We’ll walk down the aisle next as the Chicks sing “Lullaby”.
Russ can have someone to officiate if he likes, but I’d be happy to do it Quaker style. We can also make prior arrangements to have the service in the Quaker church in Monteverde if the weather is rainy. But, it would be nice to do it during the winter dry season and finally see the Monarch Butterflies near Leon, Mexico for our honeymoon. Friends and family will be welcome to come there too. Seriously, when you’ve been together almost 3 times the length of the average marriage before the wedding, the freshest thing you can do is to is to explore something new with children.
In no particular order, after the ceremony, Alison Krauss will do “I’ll Fly Away” and “Down in the River to Pray” and she’ll do “Simple Gifts” with Yo Yo Ma, the he can do anything he’s moved to do. The Chicks are gonna sing “Better Way” and whatever they want to sing before the night’s over, probably even getting around to “Good-Bye Earl” before everyone goes back to their rooms. Miley will sing “It’s a Climb” and whatever else she’s in the mood to do, it just needs to be in the category of her G rated stuff, ‘cause the kids will be there. I’m envisioning beautiful talent having so much fun together that we’re just all feeling really lucky to be there. These guys will all show for a small gig like this because it will be so much fun for them to jam together, right? Somewhere in the mix someone (or Everyone) will do Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow“. If there’s a dry eye in the place, it won’t be my fault. There aren’t any male voices on this list, so George Ezra, Chris Isaak, Lyle lovett, or Paul Simon with or without Ladysmith Black Mombassa among others are all welcome.
The wedding director will be the friend of the family that has done all our weddings. The decorations will be something natural that a local person creates and the restaurant will do full service food as the sun sets, including Monteverde cheeses. The dishes and utensils will be from the restaurant and the glasses will be be ordered, a take home gift. They will have Jump Orange Soda logos on them because Russ loves “Joe Versus the Volcano”.
Before and after the wedding we’d do different things locally with interested relatives. There is an adventure travel company, Serendipity. I know the owner. I wouldn’t exactly describe it as a friend or an acquaintance type relationship. In hot air ballooning everyone is family to some extent. I know her from ballooning, she’s actually famous in those circles. She stayed at my house on the way to a wedding once, and invited me to stay with her in Costa Rica. I intended to take her up on that back when she would have remembered offering, or at least remembered who I was. I’d like to use her company for our family fun. My grandson and maybe my son would mountain bike. Russ andI might bicycle some sissy trails. Everyone who wanted to would fly in a balloon. There would be Bell Birds and butterflies, hiking and swimming, turtles and Howler Monkeys, waterfalls, camping and rafting on the Pacuare, Scarlet Macaws and Resplendent Quetzals, strangler figs, orchids, bromeliads and glorious starlit nights.
I was thinking about this dream last week when Kim Kardashian’s 40th birthday started to trend. All I know about Kim Kardashian is that we live on a planet that pays a lot of attention to her. I’ve honestly been pretty dismissive without even paying enough attention to know if my attitude was warranted. We’re fairly opposite. I’m not good at making money. I don’t want to spend a lot of time caring how I look. I’m not a party girl. But, she made an impression when she Tweeted about Kanye and mental health. Somehow that made it into my feed, and there I was giving a Kardashian a heart.
And, now she’s had a party, flying away with people who quarantined first to an island on the other side of the world. The timing had me asking myself if that was really so very different from what I would do if I could? Her escape was probably flashier and I wouldn’t “humble tweet” about mine, but her money comes from publicly living large and mine isn’t even real. For my fantasy, I’d hire and plan everything in a way that supports local ecotourism and the people who live and work in the area in all the best ways I could. I don’t know if she did that. But the people who accused her of being tone deaf probably don’t know, or even really care either.
Because much of Kim Kardashian’s income comes, in some way or another, from showing herself to be living a life that others would like to be living, it’s kind of her job to do what she did. So, the line she crossed when she drew such ire was to show herself doing something her fans could no longer see themselves doing, at a time when they wanted it more than ever. But, we also live in a world where “extreme” gets likes, and the line between lots of likes and going too far skews hard toward the latter.
Kim Kardashian “reportedly spent a million dollars” on her birthday party. That was the phrase used on several sites that judged her out of touch. I have to think my dream wedding could probably cost that too, with salaries and fees, lodging, transportation and ecotourism. Here’s the real kicker though. A few years back, some guy in Texas spent 6 million dollars on his daughter’s Quinceanera. It’s an important coming of age milestone, but it is still a child’s birthday party. I couldn’t live all the dreams I can imagine on that, but I could worry less about healthcare coverage and happily live the rest of my life on that, even while traveling a little.
Kim has what is unimaginable money to most of us, but she’s not one of the Top 10 Richest Women in the World (she’s only 40, give her time). Those women each have 16-60 times her net worth. To know who’s richest among them can depend on the day, or your favored accounting method. And that’ just the women. The men are even wealthier.
I can’t say that I wouldn’t accept the money any one of them has if it were given to me, but I can say that I hope it wouldn’t change me much and I wouldn’t stay among their ranks for very long. Like MacKenzie Scott, I’d be looking for something to do with it that felt a little higher up Maslow’s hierarchy, l can understand giving it away so much better than keeping it.
Did you know that the world’s most expensive scarf sold for 4.8 million Dollars? And there’s someone somewhere who can imagine putting it around her neck and wearing it. I don’t think I’d even want to wear a Hermes at $500. I worked with a woman once who got a $500 settlement check from a class action suit against the restaurant chain where she waitressed. The check arrived at her other job, the one at the really cool fabric store where I also worked. She was quiet and choked up for a minute. She helped people walk off the Home Décor floor of that fabric store casually and regularly, with $500 and more in goods, but she looked at that check like it was going to change her life. She said “I didn’t believe it was actually going to happen.”
Whether you are having trouble comprehending an adult spending a million dollars on her friends and family to have a 40th birthday celebration during hard times, or a father spending 6 times that on a child’s birthday party, any of the other things about the ultra-wealthy, or, even my dream, you’re right. It’s hard to understand.
The sticking point is really in the difference between what life looks like at the top and what it looks like at the bottom. That’s what people struggle with, and it’s more than just a matter of tone deafness. Income inequality recently hit a 50 year max in the US and then Coronavirus came to town, making it immediately and intensely worse. Right now the difference bites a lot of people at the bottom in unexpected ways that they couldn’t prepare for, while the top is expanding the gap and the government aid package helped them to do it even more so.
I see this on a much smaller level in so many places. People will talk about the high cost of doing business or not being able to afford to get good employees. They are looking at it from the standpoint of someone who has a comfortable life, and many of them are saying it about employees who work 3 jobs and can’t afford a house, or will lose the house they have if they get sick. Those people complaining about the cost of business don’t really think about things from the vantage point of what the wage they want to pay means to the person they want to pay. We seem to be having more trouble than ever walking in someone else’s moccasins. I don’t know how you get people to think about how much their privilege costs others, but it probably begins with empathy, empathy for everyone, empathy from everyone, maybe too, a little celebrating another person’s dreams, whether or not they are ever fulfilled.