Thursday, 16 January 2014

Stuff I figured out early.

Some things I figured out late in life. Prime among these is the need to SHUT UP more often. Not everyone wants their life to be an open book. I embarrassed some people before I learned more discretion, for which I am truly sorry. Before we go any further: work was different and the healing room has always been Vegas. What happens there stays there.

Some things I got right in mid life. I shall remain silent about them, because see above.

And some things I figured out by the time I was 20. I feel somewhat smug about being an early adopter of some values that are now becoming fashionable. Or have recently been. Those things come and go, like feminism and back to the land movements. 

Long before Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique Simone de Beauvoir had published "The second sex". I read it as well as her The Mandarins during my first year away from home at 18. It made a deep impression.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do in life, but I was determined to avoid the fate of my mother, who was not happy as a fifties style housewife. She blossomed later but that is another story. 
I knew that whatever life brought, I needed some work of my own, some way to give meaning to life that was not dependent on a love relationship.
As soon as I became responsible for my own upkeep I also realized that I valued time over money, life over stuff.
Time and money are interchangeable to some degree, as many people are figuring out again. Returning productivity to the household has become a movement. I find myself torn between cheering it on, and being amused because they make such a fuss over it.

My ideal has always been a productive household combined with part time work. Some people may be driven self starters, I need that kick in the behind of an outside commitment to get going. I bet I am not the only mere sloppy mortal who gets more done with some scheduling and social stimulation.

Keeping up with the Jones has never been high on my list of priorities. After suffering as a socially awkward child I joyfully let go of any efforts to be normal once I left home. I owe a karmic debt to Yoka Barends, sister of Dutch actor Edda Barends, who befriended me in that first year and made me feel fine about not fitting in. Our friendship was a defining influence in my life.

The understanding that growth cannot go on forever on a finite planet seemed pretty obvious early on. A nature lover in an overpopulated country cannot pretend that the world is endless. When The Limits of Growth was published in the early seventies our reaction was: "They need studies for that? Isn't it obvious?"

The whole money thing. 
I grew up with stories of the winter of famine, 1944/45. The moral was that the people who fared well were those who could grow food. People from the cities would set out into the countryside on bicycles, often with wooden wheels, with any valuables they had in the hope of trading them for a sack of potatoes. Diamonds may be a girl's best friend but you can't eat them. For years I have professed more faith in the potato standard than in the gold standard. Imagine my pleasure when the great Terry Pratchett used exactly that comparison in "Making Money". 

I was part of a group that tried to set up a local barter bank in the early nineties. We just might try again one of these days. There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come. The true weakness of the fractional reserve system is becoming more widely known. My favourite explainer is Canadian Nicole Foss. No conspiracy theories, no scary jumps from blaming bankers to ranting about Zionists, just down to earth facts. 
Find her here:

And speaking of  food, we have done the fashionable eat local, eat with the seasons thing almost our entire life. I grew up that way and reverted to it once I started gardening.

As mentioned elsewhere, I have lived this rural life because I love it, not out of fear of immanent collapse. We are nowhere near as self sufficient as we could have been, but the simple life suits me. The rat race does not. The offspring is thriving in Metro Vancouver.

Pardon an old woman for congratulating herself a bit as she reads blogs by young wannabe homesteaders.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Wishes for a good enough 2014

Today marks the real New Year: the first Monday after the holidays that is the start of a full work week.

I wish everyone a 2014 that is good enough.

The concept of enough deserves to be honoured more. Many green voices are already clamoring for a lowering of material expectations. About time. 

And: the insanity of the economic system with its demand for endless growth has spilled over into the psychology industry. There the demand is for endless self improvement. Look at the stream of self help literature and exhortations to seek out life coaches and counselors. The psychology-industrial complex.

Could we all relax and be content to just muddle through? Could we consider ourselves happy enough? Self confident enough? Actualized enough? Beautiful enough? Spiritual enough? Fit enough? Good enough as parents/spouses/friends etc?

Humanity is facing a tough period. Recession my foot. We are looking at a restructuring of the global economy, as well as a time of environmental upheaval. It is not going to be easy any time soon. The least we can do is go easy on each other and let go of feelings of failure if life is not one big glittering achievement. 

May we all be kind and live in gratitude for our daily bread.