How to avoid the feeding frenzy.
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THE OPEN ROAD
A few days ago, I got into my car - by myself - with a full tank of gas - so I could drive up to my daughter’s house about an hour away + take her to lunch. I don’t do this often, but when I get the chance, I don’t think twice about it. I just hop in + go!
This time was different.
As I looked down at the fuel indicator, I had this strange feeling of self-indulgence.
Staring at that full tank. Knowing this trip would use up half of it. Fully aware that gas costs $6/gallon. The whole experience sent off a stream of thoughts + emotions.
It started with guilt. Who do I think I am? How can I be so wasteful? Does it make sense to use up half a tank of gas just to go to lunch?
From there, the guilt shifted into gratitude. How lucky am I? I can hop in a car + drive for an hour just to have lunch with my daughter. I can afford a full tank of gas. I can even afford to ‘waste’ half a tank on an elective drive.
It was interesting just listening to the internal chatter in my mind. Is it just me? Do you have these types of conversations with yourself at random moments?
Two weeks ago, I would not have thought twice about this whole scenario. I would have jumped in the car + hit the road. Guilt-free. Gratitude-free. I would have taken it all for granted.
But, here I was. Witnessing my own privilege.
THE PRICE OF PRIVILEGE
We are all feeling the squeeze of inflation right now. Every conversation I have these days includes something about rising prices + how we just keep adjusting our budgets to accommodate the increased cost of food, utilities, goods + services.
And now…gas. It’s been bad enough already, but with the war in Ukraine, we can be certain this isn’t going to get better anytime soon.
Up to this point, I’ve been bearing witness to all of this inflation. Marveling at it. Not really changing my behavior. Just making adjustments to my budget every month.
Sitting in the car the other day was the first time I stopped to check myself. It was as if the price tag reached a point that caused me to see my behavior a different way. To weigh the value of my choice. To recognize my own privilege.
It really hit me for a moment. Because honestly, this is EXACTLY the kind of thing that we should notice in our lives every day. The price of our privilege. The way we spend our money. The industries we support. Our behaviors + the impact they have on the environment around us. Our footprint.
Do we just keep throwing more money at our privileges? Do we just keep doing things the same way + adjust to rising prices? Or do we check ourselves? Do we examine our behaviors? Do we question what we are doing + how we are doing it + who we are supporting in the process?
Of course, this same moment in the garage would look very different for someone at a different stage of life or in a different place. I am writing this as a rather privileged white female who doesn’t have young children at home or the burden of a daily commute. I am not struggling to make ends meet or to manage healthcare costs. But, maybe it is from this place of privilege that the potential to break patterns begins.
FEEDING THE FRENZY
I’ll bet every conversation you have had this week has included something about gas prices. Right?
We love the drama. We love sharing how much it cost to fill our tank this week compared to last. We post photos of the record-high prices at gas stations. We lament the long line at the pumps at Costco.
And, in doing so, we feed the frenzy.
I don’t even pretend to understand how gas prices work, but I know it’s similar to the stock market.
My dad owned + operated a gas station when I was in high school. I remember how he would get a call every morning that gave him pricing information. Something about that call + watching his competition across the street helped determine where he set the price for the day. I wish I had taken interest in learning how that all worked. I was always amazed at how fluid pricing was + how it changed from day to day.
Human behavior is funny. We are so fickle. So reactive. So predictable. And, so easily manipulated. We feed off of each other’s energy. We follow the masses. We scurry so we don’t get stuck without or to save a few bucks. (Remember the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020?)
This behavior. The demand it creates. It drives markets. We have so much influence we don’t recognize. We are so busy reacting to everything that we fail to notice where we are driving it all.
This whole gas thing is just one example.
I just wonder - what if all of the energy we put into these conversations about gas prices + the projected impact they will have on the cost of everything - was instead put into conversations about how we are recognizing our own privilege. Changing our behaviors + habits. Redirecting our resources. Reducing our footprint.
What would happen if our conversations were about checking our privilege, rather than defending it?
Just a little food for thought.
THE POWER OF ONE
Right now, through the war in Ukraine, we are witnessing the power that one person can have. One person ultimately held the power to start the invasion. And, one person held the power + influence to stand up + fight against it.
We each have this same level of influence in our own circles. Our own world. To change the conversation. To ask better questions. To turn off our auto-pilot. To slow down long enough to recognize our reactive behavior. To move with more intention + thoughtfulness. To remove ourselves from the feeding frenzy.
Rather than adjusting the price tag on the sliding scale to accommodate our behaviors + actions, let’s start looking at how to use our privilege to create some lasting change in those behaviors + actions. Maybe there’s a better way. Maybe it’s time to try it.
I encourage you this week to listen. Listen to your internal conversations. Listen to the conversations around you. Are you feeding the frenzy? Or are you diffusing it? Are you checking your privileges or defending them? What changes are you being called to make in your life right now?
I know these are random thoughts at a very challenging time. We keep trying to maintain the status quo, in spite of all that is going on around us. So much is changing - whether we like it or not. It’s easy to get caught up in the fear of it. But, it’s also exciting to think about the opportunity.
If nothing is certain, anything is possible.
Carry that thought with you this week. See if you can continue to flip the coin.
See you next week?
Great article. Thought provoking topic. This gas price situation can be another ‘opportunity’ to increase our awareness & perhaps generate conversation about our privilege..... ￼and remind us that others don’t have the same privileges.
Good food for thought!!!! but... Your article stressed me out for a second. I am going to lunch an hour away today. I did not think about the gas price until I read this. I will keep in mind how I make memories with dear people. I could blame the road closed for the marathon, but I want to go. I can't regret it tomorrow when the world might blow up. Who pays for lunch offered to fill up my tank, too. How can I refuse? Am I blessed or what?