Some people just can't do it, cannot move outside of the what is comfortable for them. They are content where they are and are not concerned about other ways of living. And there's nothing wrong with it, but it can be limiting, if being limited is no big deal for you. If all you know is fleabag apartments or Section 8 housing, how would you behave if you suddenly lived in an upscale condo with a pool? Like a kid in a candy store, maybe. Or could you behave as though it was just another way to live, a different way of seeing the world?

One day when Sandi and I were walking in Audubon Park, we were admiring all the nice and expensive houses that lined the park, reflecting how expensive it must be to live there, if you didn't own the house you were living in, as most of these people surely did. We theorized whose life would be an easier adjustment, to put a poor person in a rich house for a week or the other way around. How would that effect each person, and what would it show them about themselves, how they view the world? I grew up around rich kids who had everything at their disposal, the whole town we grew up in, and not surprisingly, few of them made it to college and many of them ended up in rehab. Makes you wonder how much of the world is like that.

When you are at the bottom, it's assumed that it would be easier to go up, and in a way, I think it is, if that's something you strive for. How many of us, when coming from less than glittery backgrounds, shoot to make something of ourselves in the world despite where we came from, which ultimately means making more money, ascending the ladder? Once you're up there, how hard is it to go back down, to minimize again? I would say that the opposite is true, that it hard for those who grew up in affluence to choose a poorer lifestyle. You'd almost have to move out of the country to do that, and then it's amicable, because now it makes you a world traveler, a risk taker.

That's one way I look at SUV's, as a feigned attempt to project adventure or strength while living in an area, mind set, and socioeconomic bracket that doesn't look too highly on either. It's like having state of the art camping gear (I mean, it's camping, you know, out in nature), or $200 hiking boots. That to me is trying to reach out from one's comfort to promote an image of open minded inspiration that misses the mark, the whole point.

I remember one time the people who tutored with me in the Writing Center in college were at my house drinking and talking. One of the newest additions was this guy Pete, who was obviously from a well off family and had been living a very narrow, predetermined life, and we could tell it was getting to him. I think I was going off on some literary tangent and Pete turned to me and said that he wanted badly to have the passion we had for literature and poetry and all that, he wanted to feel strongly about something and let it affect him the way it affected us. I turned to him and said, "Pete, I don't mean to be rude, but we make fun of people like you." Instead of being offended, he got even more energized. "That's what I mean. Give me more of that."

More of what? It doesn't work that way. You have to break your own casing, Pete. Being around people you consider to be free spirits isn't enough. You have to get out there and make yourself vulnerable, if you ever want to change your life. It doesn't have as much to do with money as it does with your mind's eye, your self constructed prison of comfort that's been wound around you since birth.

If you can leave comfort of your own choice, you've grown. If you can move up and down the socioeconomic ladder not just to prove that you can, but because you want to, you've accomplished something. If you can get down and dirty with people your family won't associate with or learn the social dictates of a higher class so that you can fit in anywhere with your wits alone, you've learned something new about yourself, and that just because things are the way they are doesn't mean you have to be limited by it. Go beyond comfort.

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