I’ve begun writing this on a sunny Sunday afternoon with a light breeze whipping warm air through the apartment. Sara, Kalia, and I have already taken a walk around the downtown area near the farmers market. Since our fridge is pretty full, we picked up properly-raised bacon and onion scallions. The day has been easy, as we share but one full day off per week in general. We’ve talked to our families via video, a golf match plays in the background, and our crock pot has just finished slow cooking our properly-raised beef roast, carrots, sweet potatoes, and onions. What a great day!
It’s the type of day I wish we could have often, the type which I feel as though I’m on vacation, when time slows down and everything seems easy. I would wish this day on anyone, including my worst enemy. Maybe they’d then relax. We don’t relax enough – working, working, working – defining ourselves as trying and working “hard.” If people don’t like work, they’re called “lazy.” If we want to grab a view of meaningful work, check out an unfettered Amazonian tribe. They work to ensure the day’s survival of the community: hunting, fishing, raising the young, teaching tradition, healing in ceremony, and enjoying play. In fact, much of the day is spent in leisure. Our work, often, deals with toiling at desks for forty hours, perhaps many more, ensuring that a select few people remain wealthy. Maybe that is why so many people are miserable at their jobs: they lack true meaning, do little to add to the community, and help few people. I don’t know many people who actually enjoy their jobs.
We define ourselves by our achievements and accomplishments. We allow others to identify what constitutes an achievement or accomplishment. Today, both families cheered Kalia on as she got up on her knees or stood with assistance. For adults, getting out of bed could be an accomplishment, but the cheering audience has long abandoned their seats. We only take notice if a degree is granted, a test score given, awards appear, or if work has status or a raise attached. We ask, “What do you do?” when we meet someone, rather than “How do you do?” Meeting someone becomes a resume-gathering scheme. We build a caste system of which job matters once we have that resume in hand. I talked a lot to the custodian in my sophomore-year dorm. One hallmate admonished me, “Why do you talk to him all the time? He’s not going to get you anywhere.” He reminded me of my grandfather. Didn’t that deserve a cheer? Isn’t being human enough?
Kalia smiles at me, bends over in full-bodied glee when I come into the room after being away for a while. She reaches out to Sara with both arms when her mommy returns from her day job. She loves us unconditionally. We love her because we love her, no preconditions required. At what point do people attach such reasons to the love that we give to another? When does it become an exchange of goods, an “I love you, because,” an “I love you, if?” What suffering comes from living not knowing if anyone loves us for who we are, not for something we’ve done.
I’ve taken the time to discuss how government, industry, and others who collude go to great lengths and spend tremendous amounts of money to dupe us out of our common sense, making us seek tangible objects to fill intangible needs. I’ve devoted many words to exposing these links. Interestingly, fewer words need to be spoken about how to create a well society. Probably because they resonate with the intuition the outsiders attempt to stifle.
Here are some ideas:
- Love for the sake of loving. No conditions.
- Work takes up a lot of time. Follow a path that inspires you, hopefully one that benefits people and the planet.
- Give others dignity simply because they are human.
- Base respect on who one is, not the titles they hold.
- Plan your week around leisure. Star your to-do list where play time is listed. Count the stars and add more.
- Celebrate yourself and others because they exist. Don’t just wait for a trophy presentation.
- Eat properly-grown food. For this there are no exceptions.
- If you’re about to pull the slingshot on Angry Birds, drop what you’re doing and go outside!
- Breathe deeply so that your belly sticks out.
- When loving unconditionally, save some for yourself.
The cultural entanglements that keep us from expressing our whole being daily are great, which is why wellness jobs are exploding these days. But even now, not all workers in wellness are equal. In the previous installment, I showed how the industries that conspire to keep us ill have co-opted wellness “experts.” The genetic modifiers have encoded their mad science as “sustainability.” While words mean something, more money is spent to render them meaningless and useless. So far, this has worked.
A mass movement away from the nine-to-five or -six or -seven world has yet to happen. Insistence on dignity for all has not swept the majority. Convivial community has not supplanted, “I got mine!” And we’ve turned childhood into a morass of tests and competitions, teaching the youngest among us the language of “winners” and “losers” designed to maintain the status quo, to keep the human spirit at bay.
Still, we must unwind and return ease to where there is dis-ease and disease, whether on our own, with our families, or with the aid of specialists. For behind that rock, we find true health, one that unites our mind with our heart, our body with our planet, and our dreams with our realities.