Tuesday, February 10, 2009

contentment

inspired by reading this article:

economic stimulus. economic growth. but is growth really a good thing?

it seems to me that the whole idea of investments is that we put our money somewhere and it grows into more money than we had before.

i can understand not wanting ones money to decrease in value, and inflation would inevitably make money buried in the ground 50 years ago worth less than when the hole was dug.

but when growth must come at the expense of the health of our planet, the health of individuals, the quality of food, the quality of life...can having more money really make up for the incredible losses we as human beings, creatures of this planet, have sustained?

the markets have demanded: more must be made, more efficiently, faster, cheaper, for greater profits. the desire to squeeze money out of each square inch of soil is desperate; eventually there will be no value left in the soil to squeeze. the growth is not sustainable. our land is dying. and our lives are suffering.

there is an alternative.

contentment. having enough, and being happy to live a little land and have enough to eat, warmth, shelter. making a profit is great, but how much of a profit does one need? perhaps enough to buy certain necessities, small luxuries.

i have been reading much on this subject, and i am thrilled to discover that others can express these ideas much more poetically and thoughtfully than i.

Wendell Berry in his book "The Art of the Common Place: The Agrarian Essays" speaks well and profoundly about our relationship with the land, the history of our country, and why we have not cared for the land as we ought. He gives stories about people who were content with less, and as a result they were able to treat the land with observant gentleness.



We don't need more money, more stuff, faster. All of that more & faster philosophy actually makes us unhealthy and unhappy.

LESS, and more slowly. Taking time for contemplating nature, family, the spiritual world.

It's great to learn sprouting, baking, book binding, gardening. This morning I picked the dead flowers from my basil plant and harvested seeds. What joy!! I compared them to the seeds that I bought & planted last spring. Similar. Now I have my own seeds, with a year's experience living in this place.

I guess I am greedy to do so many things. I wish I could help start a million community gardens. I wish I could teach poor people to sprout grains so they'd have low-cost, nutritious food available to them. I want to build a house, just to show that it can be done and it doesn't have to be so confoundedly complicated as modern houses are. Finish sewing that dress. Write letters to my friends. Learn how to make kombucha and yogurt and cheese and soap and candles. Knit. Write more. Learn natural healing techniques.

It's pretty clear that I'm bringing my characteristic intensity even to my desire to live a slow life. And clearly my biggest challenge will be to simply enjoy the present, and to find contentment exactly where I am.

1 comment:

nicole said...

I absolutely love to read your words. I feel a sort of kinship with you; that we have much in common.