When my girls were little and I was a single Mum I was constantly struggling to make ends meet. Sometimes I would run out of electricity for the meter and pretend we were playing "living in the olden days." With candles burning and the open fire keeping us warm I managed to play a game, which enabled them to be completely oblivious to the reality of the situation.
Fast forward to 2010. My girls have left home now and are doing really well as grown-ups, I am immensely proud of both of them.
My 10 year old son Charlie has never wanted for anything, and his childhood experiences are quite different to theirs. I drive a nice car, I live in a lovely renovated cottage in a beautiful village - and I never forget how heavy hearted and inadequate I felt when I couldn't provide for my children. In the late 1980's I bought my first book on Buddhism and since then, as my work life has ensured a better (financially more secure) quality of life, I can remind myself of the irrelevance of material goods.
I meditate, practise yoga and enjoy sitting in peace.
I tell Charlie (more often than I should maybe) that he doesn't NEED every single bionicle figure, he doesn't NEED to play x-box live. Maybe I should play "living in the olden days" with Charlie too? Sitting in candle light with no electricity is no bad thing. Children become creative again, tapping in to who they really are rather than filling the void with mind numbing media.
Of course being financially stable is preferable, but we don't have to lose sight of what really matters just because we can effortlessly pay the bills and drive a nice car.
Ultimately all of our material possessions can disappear - and then what are we left with? If we forget to work on ourselves, and avoid practising finding inner peace, no amount of material wealth or belongings will ever satisfy us. Take time every day to be quiet, focus on your breathing and realise the transience of this life. Accumulating belongings is no substitute for inner peace.
"Possession of material riches, without inner peace, is like dying of thirst while bathing in a lake." - Paramahansa Yogananda