20 November 2009

Deep Thoughts At Happy Hour

Family Theme Day is coming early.  I think I may throw this schedule in the bin...I can't seem to stick to it.

After reading this post by Jules, I was left thinking about my family's struggle to make ends meet...wondering if we'll ever manage to move forward.  We're contemplating new jobs with commutes which will dig us out of a hole, but leave us with a lot less time for real life and change everything.  We're such ridiculous creatures of habit.  If we don't get to eat lunch together, per the usual, the rest of the day is half-weird and feels incomplete.  If one of us isn't home at the usual time in the evening, it throws the whole night off...we can't get in sync.  It's like we're old...set in our ways...but we like it that way.  It's why we're so good together...we harmonize.  It's about the connecting.  It's why we cook dinner together, make cookies together, or run errands together. From habit, we naturally do for each other what needs to be done and we have it down to a science now.  Or should I say, a nice, comfortable schedule that really works.

These habits aren't random or arbitrary.  We do what we're good at to accomplish what we want.  We both value, more than anything, having a safe, comfortable home.  Not just a house...a home.  Clean, cozy, happy, safe, relaxing place where we can always be real and leave the outside world outside

The patch of earth where we plant tender little seedlings in the earth that grow into delicious food.  The tiny kitchen with 3 cabinets where we cram our prized iron skillet, our highly valued cookie press, and the cheap but invaluable salad spinner.  The kitchen where my soul finally began to open and embrace all the glory that is flavor and food.  The shoebox garage that contains Brendan's livlihood...third generation toolboxes and tools, engine stands and hoists, welders, and dreams of biodiesel concoctions and TDI engines.  The basement with our drying clothes strung out on lines in a defiant statement of survival...the mini lathe, a budding hobby waiting for more time.  The soft textures of blankets and throw rugs...the rush of green and oxygen from our little indoor grove of houseplants.  The big table where aprons are sewn, homework is done, and conversations save the world.   It's where real life happens.  Not the pretend money-making, 9 to 5 life.  The real stuff...like laughter and kisses and dreams. It's where the fullness of our triumphs and disappointments are felt and ultimately expressed.  It's the place where hope is born and allowed to blossom without the downward glance of naysayers.  And it's where grief is finally allowed to ache, safe from judgment.  It's the one place that we may always be ourselves, without fear of offending or reprisal.  And it's the only place I can make my own as I see fit.

After reading Jule's post, I couldn't help but be saddened by the fact that no matter how much lip service we, as Americans, give freedom, it doesn't mean anything without the almighty dollar.  Amidst the many freedoms we do have, the one we don't seems to be the ability to live our lives as we'd like to.  I know I'm venturing off into dangerous territory...there's a lot of people that claim to like the way their lives are (specifically, the working part).  And I surely don't doubt the truth of it.  But for those of us that want to be, say firefighters but out of financial necessity must be paper pushers, we aren't really tasting that freedom.  Now I know that scenario doesn't really make sense but switch out firefighter for artist/writer/mechanic/vetrinarian/biochemist or anything else, really.  All over the country there are people doing "this" that want to be doing "that" but life circumstances (i.e. financial situations) make it difficult.  I'm sure Jules husband would love to be home with his wife and children a little bit more, dare I say a lot more.  But like she says, bills need to be paid.  And so it goes across America.

There are two responses to this dilemma.  One from Depression Era Survivors and Baby Boomers and another from the New Age crowd.  The old, familiar response of the wise old men and the suits and ties of yesterday talk about capitalism and hard work and success and don't ever really approach the core issue of "happiness".  And then the Wayne Dyers and Jack Canfields of the world tell us to think positively and the world will be ours.  Both ideas have their merits.  But like I always say, none of us live in a vacuum.  Everything affects everything else and as long as the mojority of the world finds it acceptable to live to work and work to live, then it will continue to affect the population.  How many generations of children will this paradigm be handed down to?  After reading Jule's post, I read this one from Maggie May about the teenage paroxysm of her son and I wondered, how many people can really see this clearly?  Maggie does...but what more can she do?

I'm not ranting.  And I'm not blaming either.  I know there is no real answer to this, or even explanation.  I don't have a one-size-fits-all solution that will work for those of us who are some kind of "stuck".  No one does.  Yet, somehow, I'm not hopeless.   The world is full of people helping themselves...climbing out of deep dark holes and pits of despair and raising their triumphant fists to the sky in victory.  I think it's a saavy combo of the Boomer's work hard ethic and the New Ager's incurable optimism (which we all know is more work than it seems).  But I think there is another key element - the recognition that there really is no one-size-fits-all answer.  We must make our own. 

Imagine if you'd been given all the love, encouragement, and resources to find your passions and follow your dreams from when you were a small child.  Imagine...if you will...what that would be like.  If there were no demands other than "find your passion" and "do what makes you happy".  To some people, that's a fruitless exercise.  But to those of us who can actually imagine such a thing, we can start to see how inefficient and inept our priorities are.  One family raising their child in such a way is struggling against the tide.  But imagine a whole culture of people following their passions, unlimited by niether financial means nor tired presumptions about how things "should be".

In this case, I'm going to go with Dr. Wayne Dyer on this one and agree "we'll see it when we believe it".


Annie said...

I love this post. I have been struggling with this issue my whole life. I don't have it licked yet, but I am doing what I love at least 50% of the time which is a vast improvement over the past, I don't have any money(yet) and I am not making much from my art, but I will never give up or give in. xoxo

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

EXCELLENT post! It all gets down to the mighty dollar. Even though we try to raise our children to follow their dreams, nurture their talent, educate them for the future, there is always that block that stops them from being their creative self and the true happiness that we all seek. Why? The dollar reigns in our society. The government has made it so difficult for the dreamers to do their craft...much more so than in the years of the baby boomers or earlier. We were a country of optimism and wide open arms for business. Now, that is quashed with torte lawyers, goods imported from foreign countries and work forces being outsourced. In this day, one looks at a job as a means to an end...not the happiness to the soul. No one truly has the answer...we're all trying to climb the ladder but seem to be stuck on the last rung.

This is such a controversial topic...love it!!

corabela said...

The other day I read that the United States exports $1 million in potato crops while IMPORTING $1.4 million. You simply cannot trust the common sense of a collective culture that allows that to happen.

Anyway...thanks for the nice comments guys. It definitely is an interesting dialogue that this topic opens up. And Annie, I'm so proud of you for being brave enough to really be yourself!

Char said...

i agree we are a very wasteful society. i'm thinking of you.