Friday, April 23, 2010

Learning the Abundance of Just Enough

Read this and turn away from your screens for a piece and look about you. Look at your stuff; really look at it. Chances are that you have way more of it than you know what to do with. I think I have twenty coffee mugs. I'm a single man. I only have two hands and four chairs and the chairs are in storage. I have a car that I haven't driven on an actual errand since August 2009. I have boxes of books and more boxes of kitchen ware. Look at your stuff and wonder; is it enough? Do I use all this? What's the point of this stuff anyway?

The "economic recovery" is crap. Anybody who tells you differently is lying and that's pretty much the entire mainstream media and most elective office holders. If you're anything like me you know a few people who are flat out-of-work and a few dozen more whose "job descriptions" rely heavily on yoga, tofu, pampered pets, massages, house plants, house-cleaning and handyman descriptions. Their actual incomes run about half to a third of what stable full-time employment would bring them. Surprisingly, no-one starves. Most have housing even if they move frequently. Their clothes may be worn but are usually clean and in fair condition barring fashion statements. They aren't going to be buying new: cars, houses, appliances, furniture or any other major purchases anytime soon. For some of them that may extend to ever again.

Yet they have enough. Most have the cars, bicycles, computers, clothes, furniture, kitchen-wares, linens etc. that are required to keep them comfortable. Many are concerned about losing weight. They all have cell phones. Everyone who wants recreational substances, alcohol, pot or whatever seems to be able to afford them. Utility bills get paid. Their medical care is deferred or billed to the state when their ailments get bad enough that a doctor is required. For most, it is enough.

In the next year millions more will be invited to learn the abundance of just enough. State and local governments are bankrupt and the federal government refuses to consider bailing them out. Jobs will be redlined. The american people have been told that governments can operate without raising taxes for thirty years and it's always been a flat lie. They've been told that they've been living in a capitalistic system also and that's been a lie as well. Look at the maps of which states pay funds into the federal budget and which states take money out. Most of the country geographically is on the dole one way or another. Reality and Congress are not in regular contact.

So as the economy rachets down due to reasons like Peak Oil, Climate Change damages and Finance Sector parasitism most of us are going to have to learn to make due with less. This is going to be painful for many until they learn to bicycle around, cook food from scratch ingredients, grow vegetables, glean fruits, mend clothing and get along with roommates. More than a few of us have learned how to treat everything short of major trauma and cancer without Big Pharmas big price tags. We'll learn to entertain each other as television and radio becomes increasingly, desperately, focused on extracting every last penny from those remaining in the "real economy."

We're better off.

Depressed? Slash the tires on your car, buy a bicycle and find something five or six miles out of town that you just have to get to. Lonely? Not with three roommates and their 28 friends wandering through you're not. Bored? Learn to play an instrument, paint, sew, knit, garden, fix bicycles, hack electronics, build furniture, boats, kilns, stoves and/or weld. Hungry? Learn the endless variations of beans/tortillas, hummus/pita, rice/curry, beets/cabbage or dhal/chapati that feed the rest of the world. Tired? Sling a hammock in a friends garage.

Learn to laugh as you dance. Comfort each other. Sit meditation. Paint faces. Learn to walk together. There is time enough and love enough for all. Just enough, if we share.


Publius said...

such simple but good advice and wisdom.
I am sensing that you are "back", whatever that means.
If you were closer, I'd invite you over for dinner and a fire in the fire pit.
I still invite you, even though you are far.
So if you are traveling in the north country far... stop on by.
You know how to reach me.

nina said...

That's just beautiful Pangolin. The opposite would be
live alone, work hard paper shuffling (for somebody else, preferably a corporation with lots of anonymity, maintain a Hummer you garage in the $ity and make heavy duty payments on to the lending bank. On your rare weekends, pay bills and sleep, you're too busy to know anyone other than your boss - when he's in the mood to be known.
Get furloughed and go into collapse alone, embarassed and depressed. Go nowhere because you are now too exhausted from waiting in unemployment benefits lines and rewriting your resume over and over.
Complain a lot, mostly about the lousy blows life has dealt you. Gain 50 pounds eating Hohos while waiting for the internet to send you a job interview. Don't answer the phone, its just another collection agent. And worse, forget going to any interview anywhere if something actually showed up in your email - because you cannot fit into anything in your walk-in closets.
To combat the weight problem, you go into full on meth addiction and develop psychosis, acne and a stutter. You are even turned away as a volunteer to serve at the soup kitchen, not that you could get there when they need you because the garage won't release your Hummer which they will definitely release to the repo man driving up tonight.

This all reminds me of Mister Jones who doesn't know what is happening, do you Mr. Jones.

VW: ingili (Na'vi for the English language)

su said...

Beautiful Pangolin,

A few years ago our home and business burnt to the ground.
We were uninsured and left with nothing.
We never have got around to replacing anything but the most basic of items.
Here my bicycle is my main means of transport - just need to do something about the non existent brakes.
Ah and about taking up a new hobby - have enrolled for singing lessons.
Always wanted to play an instrument - but that would mean acquiring one - figured best to use what i have anyway.

Enjoyed this piece enormously.

su said...

i had just posted when it happened that cleaning of the study arose.
picked some deep pink roses from my neighbours hedge and place them in a goblet I was given.
Lit an oil burner. Treated myself and purchased 5 candles to keep it alight.
When it came to choosing oils - I tried the peppermint and it was empty.
Next was rosemary - 2 drops, 1 drop benzoin, and then the sandalwood presented itself.
Ooh my favourite oil but see how little there is left in the bottle.
The voice continued:
"keep it for special, don't use it now else you will be without"

you know that relentless voice that keeps telling you what you need in order to be happy.

fortunately a different perspective arose which said - this is it.
this right here, right now is about as sacred as it is ever going to get.

this is your last moment - it has never been before and will never be again
- are you going to experience a smell that somersaults the amygdala or not -

so - mopping in between roses, oils and a violin spider sitting just above my chair. my totem.
(and it keeps all the kids out of the office - i have forbidden its removal) - ah the beauty of personal space every now and then.

Pangolin said...

Nina, I swear on my cast iron pans that I have two brothers who have split that menu exactly. The only difference is that the one drives a Toyota Tundra and the other drove himself to the grave with crack.

They said things like "If you don't come to work on Saturday don't bother coming in on Sunday because you're fired." It wasn't irony; they meant every word.

Su_ Bamboo flute making instructions here. Of course all sorts of things make drums. I was even treated to a lovely performance of two voices, stand-up bass and unicycle in the recent past. The lovely in question played the spokes with a drum stick.

I found some five-foot, yellow, japanese iris growing in a culvert today. Eight of them came home with a bundle of green wheat heads and grace my mothers table. What is given freely is returned threefold.

su said...

The absolute perfection of it all.

Zoner said...

Perfect. Many will wail and gnash teeth as this inevitability comes to pass, some may even opt to kill their families and themselves to avoid and loss of status (oh wait, it has happened a bunch already) but maybe those who are ahead of the curve can be examples and PROVE that a life spent in pursuit of satisfaction and joy via stuff is misguided. We will be so much better off, but can we get there without the whole thing being destroyed first?

Good to see you are present.


Anonymous said...

Loved your post, but look at some things differently.

I have lived in absolute poverty in the past, and found that hoarding worked well for me.

I was always dumpster diving, and dragging home trash, much of which I eventually used.

I have about 15 spoons. Not one of them matches. This baffles me. Where did they come from? I know that one of them was in a hand-me-down set. Where are the others in the set?

Maybe 15 spoons are too many, but I like that better than washing one every time I use it.

Just personal preference.

Also, it's really hard to get along with roommates. They invariably do things differently than you think is right and proper. They think things are right and proper that you have never heard of in your life!

This causes problems.

(This is wagelaborer, but I can't figure out how to comment with my name