Friday, February 17, 2012

The burden of being upwardly mobile

I've had an inner struggle for the past eight years or so with my attachment with the all mighty dollar. I didn't grow up wealthy but I had more than I needed. When I grew up I got to a point when financial wealth meant something very important to me. It meant I was smart and talented and lucky. I believed money mattered, mattered to my friends that I had it, mattered to my family that I didn't need, it and mattered to society because I could spend it. I believed that a person’s value or their importance (mine) was measured in the ability to have whatever one wanted whenever one wants it. But at the same time my attraction to the monastic life, life without the burden of desire for things and such has always been very powerful and strong. So this is why I say struggle.

When I say I’ve had this inner struggle with money in particular for the past eight years it’s because before that for the most part I didn’t think about it, other than having it. There was not a possibility in my head that I wouldn't. But it happened. One day almost nine years ago I found myself with $14 in my possession. No assets, no debt, no job at least until April, one month away. I may have only had $14.00 but I ate like a queen, fresh food from my very first garden, lamb chops from the first livestock I had ever participated in raising and confidence in a discovery of self reliance.

Since then, thankfully for the most part I’ve managed to keep more than $14.00 and I’ve also managed to take on some debt. But I look at wealth so much differently. I look at my value so much differently. I’ve learned to measure relaxed shoulders and foreheads as priceless. I’m not saying money or wealth is a bad thing, no not at all. What I’m saying is how we perceive our own value apart from money is an even better thing. I’m 45 years old and I’m just now figuring this out. 10 years ago you wouldn’t have caught me living below my means. But now I thrive in it. I’m more dependent on my leg muscles and arms then my credit card or bank account. I value my partner and friends above all. I’ve no time for small talk, I dive into the richness of our inner lives. What’s happened to me? Maybe I just grew up, got a little older started to notice and question the things that were and are important to me. Over time my choice to farm and try to make a life from the land has become a monastic one, a way of life I had always desired deeply beneath a thick skin of insecurity. Here I’ve found an openness, a vast world of endless opportunities and experience. Unburdened by fear or confidence. I wake up each morning with the freshness of a young child, and I feel free.
I love this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh; “My actions are my only true belongings”.                                        When I first read it I cried. I worried so much about being 45 and not having “assets”. Maybe when we feel we’ve lost it all do we realize we didn’t posses it to begin with? What beautiful belongings to have, my actions. For this I can be secure in knowing they’re all mine, these are my assets, and I’m generating more each day!  It makes me think about how I choose to live my days and moments. How I treat myself and others. How I plant, how I cook.  I don’t know what else to say than this feels really good.

1 comment:

Marie Wreath said...

Until that quote at the end about actions being our only assets, your word "monastic" hummed throughout this piece, and I loved it. I still do. But that quote, WOW. I needed that today. Thank you!

Working steadily at sufficient, sustainable living over here too. : )