Wealth and privilege.   First Class Trip Prompts Reflection. Big time!

I had the privilege for some unknown reason of flying “business class” on my Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Kansai airport in Osaka. Likely the shortest person over age fifteen on the plane, I certainly didn’t need the leg room. 😀 But what a treat! I feel very blessed. I had a whole row to myself so instead of the aisle I usually take because I try to drink as much as I can to reduce jet lag; so of course I sat in the window seat. And I appreciated it! I said an aerial goodbye to Vancouver Island, saw our beautiful BC west coast all the way up north and ate dinner with a view of blue skies and clouds. Gorgeous. And felt alive, adventurous, and beautiful. Real linen, wine glasses, China, and cutlery. A mini table cloth and a linen napkin. Orange juice upon arrival and Japanese and English newspaper options galore. I don’t want to sound like a country bumpkin but really felt very privileged and honestly a little out of place. But I totally enjoyed my own personal iPad and as many movies as I could fit into ten hours of flight time. The flight attendants were lovely and suggested I just enjoy the experience as I really wasn’t sure I was in the right place. A perfect idea if you ask me! What a way to start my next world adventure!
While minor, this experience has made me think about privilege and money. And also a little about my personal relationship with money AND with privilege. My philosophy is definitely along the Law of Attraction lines… I feel like I have abundance. And that, of course, refers to other things besides just money. But I will stick to the financial perspective for now. Abundance is more than enough. I understand that things are relative and certainly that is the case with money. In relation to some friends I am rolling in the dough and, in relations to others, I am lowly. To my mind, I have more than enough. I have abundance. I am blessed with the opportunity to travel half way across the world. I remember being grateful and a little appalled I could buy a $700 bicycle on a weekend excursion to Seattle, Washington, USA from Victoria, BC, Canada and not have to worry. And yet to look at me in the airport you probably wouldn’t think I was in abundance: Hiking boots, mountain climbing capris, a fleece, and a straw sun hat plus a CISV shoulder bag with a bright orange strap made of seatbelt material and a hippie-ish large hand bag with flowers, birds, and a sentimental quote on it. Not exactly wealth and elegance. Haha. But it’s me! 
I have always been a good saver. My parents opened a Royal Bank account for me when I was little wee and it has always been my nature to save up for something I want. I remember my first big purchase was to accompany my Dad on a trip he had won in a radio contest when I was ten or twelve years old. Guests could join the trip for $100. From Campbell River, BC, on Vancouver Island on Canada’s West Coast, we travelled by bus and ferry to Vancouver to watch Michael Jackson in concert. After the concert, the ferries had stopped and we got on a private boat to come home. The cost of $100 was daunting to me at such a young age. But truly, there was no way I wasn’t going to that concert! The concert was amazing as you can imagine a young MJ to be. The feeling in the bit of my stomach when I took $100 of my hard earned savings out is something I still get when I make big purchases. But it was worth it. Hmmmm. Perhaps that was when my spending on experiences and adventures started!   
Obviously, I am older now, but still save well for big purchases (generally experiences over things, adventurer that I am). At this age, I definitely find I treat myself more on little, or not so little, things. Macchai, massages once in a while, cooking classes, weekend Goddess getaways, others. But, generally, I feel privileged. I am not much of a shopper and generally don’t buy much unless it’s food or an experience. Too much information, but, for example I kinda have to wait til all my undies have holes before I go and stock up with a dozen or so pairs of panties again. Lol. 
I feel I lived alot of my life not liking money and the control it had over me… And the rest of society. I can’t pin point when it happened exactly, but at some point, something clicked and my perspective changed. Money is a tool and it is all in how we view it. Truth be told, if I have wanted or needed something badly enough, I have made it happen. I can be frugal and I can be frivolous. I see money as just part of life and it does seem to appear when needed. I am grateful as this mental shift seems to have eliminated a lot of unnecessary stress and worry from my life.  
As I was preparing to leave Canada, something weird happened. As I was sorting through my possessions and selling, gifting or donating so much of my stuff, I had the craziest desire to buy kitchen items. I became almost obsessed with window shopping at the local big end kitchen shops and the urge was so strong I wouldn’t even allow myself to go in. After some self reflection, I realized that no matter where in the great wide world I visit, I will hopefully be cooking for myself and I have been spoiled. I have and have had some really great kitchen tools! Of course, at this point, my mom would bring up the fact that I got by for over a year with three forks, two knives and two spoons for cutlery. (Why buy more if you think you’re going to leave the country and sell it all, donate it, or store it!!?!?!) Anyhow, I am resisted, of course; but it made me think again about my privilege and how I have been able to purchase great quality items as I need them.  
To me there is a distinction between wealthy and privileged. It’s probably just my own definitions, though, and often my definitions or various words are a little off from dictionary definitions or even societal norms. Anyways, I remember the feeling of wealth being very uncomfortable for me. A particular instance comes to mind of dining on a cruise with my Mom, my aunt Kathy and my cousin Kelsey. Our server would hold the chair for us and lay a napkin in our laps. I felt very uncomfortable with this. I can easily do these things myself and yet I felt compelled by the environment and atmosphere of wealth and the ship culture to allow it to happen. The first few times I didn’t. It was an award exchange between our server and myself when I didn’t give him the opportunity. But it really bothered me as it seemed to emphasize a class system that I was not accustom to. It seemed more than good customer service to me, but actually created a culture of wealth and lack of wealth. Perhaps just my perspective, but it certainly made felt unnatural and uneasy. Either way, I was not comfortable with the culture of wealth and the status I had on the ship, particularly in the dining hall nightly.  
In a month I will be living in Thailand. In a tiny village, in a room with several other people and using cold water to shower. And yet I imagine I will still feel wealthy there as well. I won’t earn much money but things are cheap and I will be living close to the beach in an exotic country!
I guess it is all a matter of perspective. I come from North America, so my idea of wealth and privilege differs from other cultures and for certain in lesser developed countries. And I chose to see myself as humbly in abundance. Perhaps it’s narrow minded and “first world” of me, but I do. In reality, who knows – it’s all relative. But, living where I want, in an amazing country now for two months and again somewhere new in August … Definitely living a dream! I saved to make it happen, am more relaxed about money, am able to be frugal and see myself as privileged where others might not. Important thing is, I feel privileged, I appreciate it, money doesn’t control me, and I feel grateful and damned lucky!!!!   

 

First Class perks
   

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