The Sarnia Mindset Part 3 (Just get me to 65)

Part 1 – Lots of Stuff
Part 2 – Lots of Time
Part 4 – Escaping the Difference

In many ways, these posts were a cleansing for me to get out all the things I can’t stand about people in Sarnia. It allowed me to speak my mind and write my judgemental attitude to the city around me. I love to point out the bad; it’s an odd way to learn. But by deconstructing all the negative aspects of something I usually come up with some beautiful. Many people will give the warning not to define what you love by what you hate, but sometimes it’s just easier that way and sometimes you never know what you love until you realize you hate the opposite. Maybe it’s a na├»ve way to look at life, but it works for me with issue after issue and in my life. The things I don’t like in my life always stick out more than the others, so when I star to work on them and clean them up a bit I start to realize that there is really something good underneath.

Though some have spoiled my ending in the comments on the first three posts, I will still end it. If you’ve read my last three posts, you’ll think “wow, Sarnia sounds awfully familiar.” It’s because it is familiar. Sarnia is no different than most other towns. It’s full of people, like most cities. It’s full of people trying to find fulfillment, like most cities. It’s full of Christians and non-Christians, like most cities. Even though most people say, ok, what you’re saying is obvious. However, I think it’s necessary to express.

This series of posts had two purposes.

1. Many people get dissatisfied with Sarnia and leave. Leaving Sarnia, which I focused on, doesn’t solve the problem. I could have almost written another post called “Let’s get out of here” and talk about the relentless pursuit of everyone under twenty-five to escape this city’s grips. They blame it on all sorts of things (like the things in my first three posts). They just need to leave Sarnia and everything will be all right (you should hear all the reasons people come up with). Sorry to break it to you. But no matter where you go, these problems will be there. People will always waste their money and buy useless stuff, people will always have way too much time on their hands and people will always try to create a safe comfy future for themselves with material wealth. You can’t escape it. You can move to Toronto and have ‘more to do’ but the mentality is still there, people just wasting time doing meaningless stuff. Of course if thats who you are, there are many people who aren’t like that at all. The answer is not in the city. The answer is in you. Change yourself if your sick of Sarnia (or your city), you don’t have to be moulded by your city, you don’t have to live like everyone else.

2. The second purpose was to express my deep dissatisfaction with culture in general, which I obviously experience so much more here in Sarnia. I can’t do it and feel right. I can’t just acquire stuff anymore. I love it though, I love my computer and all my gadgets and that is the problem I think. I try to imagine my life without it and I can’t, and that is my problem. I can’t waste my time doing meaningless stuff anymore. I need to somehow make my time about others, serving them, loving them or just being with them. Part of serving them is working, I know that, I’m not trying to endorse a play all day life here. There is just something about having deep meaningful relationships with people that is life-changing. The kind of relationships where you actually care about their well-being and their future and their decisions and their lack of decisions and their families. There is something to the fact that when people are dying they want the people they love around them and not their stuff. I can’t just live to retire, whatever retiring means in my context. I want to live a retired life every day of my life. If that means living more simply so I only need to work my job part-time so I actually have time to just live, then so be it. If that means enjoying every moment instead of judging every moment, then that’s what I need to learn.

So for those of you that are in Sarnia and want to leave because it sucks. Good luck finding anywhere that’s better. Sarnia is like the rest of them but with much better beaches and great fries under the bridge. And for those of you that are living lives full of materialism, consumerism and all those other isms; there is a way out. You have to want it though. You have to make decisions that get you out of it. It’s a slippery slope, and the ending is the same. Decide to live simpler, within your means. Stop trying to have more then you need and life slows down to a retirement-type-slow. Stop trying to prepare for your future with material wealth, it only last so long. Invest in people, the people around you and watch while you slowly start to love people more than stuff and your life all of sudden amounts to a little more than the your great TV. Instead of the stuff taking care of you, the people do and in the end, I think that’s what we all want.

3 Comments

  • nate… this is good stuff to think about and process. i’m glad you’re questioning what people are doing and why we are all doing it…

    as i’m reading your series of posts i’m not seeing anything unique to sarnia. in my opinion, in every one of the three posts, you could take out the “sarnia mindset” and replace it with the word “human mindset”… no matter where you go, people are materialistic and accumulate a lot of stuff, they have too much time on their hands and never have anything to do, and everyone is working for their retirement. i’d be interested in hearing how you see these points as a distinguishing factor of sarnia’s mindset over against any other city (or of a western mindset in general), because i’m not completely convinced yet. thanks man… keep thinking and writing…

  • Does your disclaimer mean my post goes back up when youre done babbling?

    Have you ever thought that working a 9-5 is what Paul is talking about when he says if you dont want to work, then you wont eat.

    Its not as though we (the brainless working class) work our whole lives in anticipation of cutting up the tie and retiring. Retirement is a milestone that one looks to and says thats when things can slow down.

    In your 20s, you have radical thinking (as you evidently show). Changing the world and making an impact. Your mind is on hyper drive.

    As you get older you start to slow down; not because of old age but I think more so out of wisdom and meekness. You start to realize that the things that make you happy arent the radical and different but more so the simplicity in it all. Your goals and priorities change. Family, friends and community take over your life. True, we get caught up in the rat race of the Jones (some more than others) but with that you also have people all over investing in their families and their neighborhoods.

    You seem to have this hell bent idea that the majority of Sarnians watch TV, bitch about their TV being bigger and how they cant wait to retire so they can talk about nothing.

    People dont work shitty jobs in order to retire, they work shitty jobs because they want to eat, clothe themselves and take care of their family. Unfortunately we all werent born into royalty or are a millionaire where we dont have to worry.

    The truth is there arent enough good jobs out there and more so, those poor bastards whom you talk about didnt luck out with an education and are stuck doing back breaking labor. (If I had to break my back everyday I would probably go and drink all weekend too!!) These people are not on a roof, picking up garbage, working retail or wiping ass because they want to, there do it because its a pay check. That pay check allows them to eat.
    You have this idea that everyone works in the plant. Oh shit, I forgot, you went to church your whole life where they dont deal with real people and everyones families just have their shit together.

    Maybe church has blinded you so much that you cant see that people are out there in Sarnia struggling to make ends meat. A LOT of them live in Sarnia. Guy, we have the highest un-employment rate in Ontario!!!!! You think some of our neighbors sell drugs because its fun? No. They gotta find rent every month.

    Name the closest people in your life (I just did it for you in my head). Most of their parents work in the plants and have that fat retirement coming to them.

    Do you think anyone in our mile radius is in the retirement rate race?

    Wake up man.

  • Great post Nathan. Really thought provoking.
    I googled, ‘take out in Sarnia’ and this is what I find! haha

    And I apologize I haven’t gotten to your book yet! It’s still on the radar though. Have you read mine?

    Blessings bro!

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