Back in the early aughts, Donald Rumsfeld, defending the troops’ shortage of armor and supplies in Iraq, was quoted as saying “you go to war with the army you have.” When we’re talking about sending people into battle, I disagree. That’s a topic for a different kind of post, but his phrase stuck with me, because I think it applies to other areas of life.
When I was young and broke, I racked up some debt – student loans, credit card debt, a car loan. Being young and broke, I had no assets so my net worth was in the hole. My net worth is now above ground, but on and off I still have debt – I often have some low-level credit card debt hanging around, even though I have the assets to pay if off and be done with it.
Why I am sharing this personal information with the Internet? Because it serves as a reminder – Rummy was wrong about Iraq but I think he was onto something about life: you go through life with the you that you have.
When I was younger, I assumed that I had debt because I didn’t have enough money. Back then, that was the main factor, but now I realize that even with money available, a bit of debt is just part of who I am. I pay it off from time to time, then let it creep up again, then pay it off again, then let it creep up again.
I don’t know why I do this. It kind of bugs me, and it makes no financial sense. Maybe someday I’ll outgrow the tendency but I’m halfway through my life (if not more) and it hasn’t happened yet. So, I have decided to just accept that this is the me that I have, and to go ahead and forge through life. I must have had some inkling of this when I was younger, because I decided to start saving before I had completely paid off all my student and consumer debt, and I’m glad I did. If I had waited until I was completely debt-free to start saving, I never would have started saving and I would be both in debt and broke now.
Similarly, sometimes I wish I were more: motivated to exercise/diligent about using skin care products every day/motivated to keep my car washed – but, I’m not. Rather than paralyze myself with thoughts of how I should be, I go for a walk on those days when I’m not motivated to huff and puff through a Crossfit workout or slip and slide over mossy Northwest winter mountain bike trails. I smear antioxidant stuff on my face whenever I remember to and figure it’s better than none at all. As for my car, well, I can’t see it when I’m driving it, and I don’t look at it when I’m at home, so too bad.
The energy I don’t spend chastising myself for my ‘failings’ is energy I can spend enjoying this very interesting second half of life.