Thursday, June 3, 2010

thoughts on work

work. what is it for? what does it mean? why are we always trying to avoid it? doesn't honest hard work build character and make you feel good? growing up, i had a bad relationship with work. in a perpetual game of hide and seek, i was constantly in search of how to manifest what i wanted while avoiding doing too much of the work myself. only when i was "tricked" into enjoying it, did i relish the fruits of my labor. i don't think i'm alone on this. americans of the past few generations tend to have this kind of attitude. rich or poor, the goal is to achieve the status of not having to work. thats why we rationalize having a "service" culture. we're too busy. its too hard. we deserve better. why should we? its just too much "work."

i have realized that this issue of work is bigger than i thought. it shapes the way we think and act and make most of our life decisions. somewhere in history when we stopped growing, raising and slaughtering our own food, and making our clothes and homes, we also lost a connection to working for our basic necessities in a direct way. although i would be the first to say i love the modern conveniences of our lives, i recognize that with them, there is a loss of our sense of purpose and of personal capability. it creeps into our spirit starting at a pretty young age and haunts us into adulthood.
i am speaking from my experience of course. but i don't think i'm the only one. so what should a person do about it? we are just born into this life, we didn't create it right? well, most people reading at this point, know what i'm trying to do about it. cleaning my own house, teaching my own kids, raising chickens, attempting to grow some of my own food. i'm trying to create a life for my family that nurtures self ability and limits the need to purchase everything, from food to happiness. a life that turns shopping as a passtime into a thing of the past.

i have been on a mission to discover how to do this and to seek out others who feel the same way for inspiration and support. thankfully, a lot of people have understood this for a long time. there is a pretty well advanced network and plenty of resources already in place. more and more people are starting to realize these connections and have begun to make changes. in fact, growing up in the bay area, i'm a bit of a late comer to the sustainable-organic-slow food-locavore-urban homestead-off the grid movement. i feel like i'm going back to my roots. my mom lived a lot of these principles, albeit quietly. she used to drag me to the berkeley farmers market as a teenager. i remember spending the whole time agonizing over some angsty self concerned drama, while she thoughtfully chose fresh organic healthy foods for our family. well, better late than never right?

i'm definitely not ready to move to the country and run my own farm. i deeply enjoy the small changes i've made. i want the community of an urban life, while continuing to push further past my old habits. my old anti work attitudes that leave me feeling empty and crappy about myself. i want to relearn that working hard, but smart, is the way to create a rich, self sustaining life.

for me its never about being perfect. or judging others who aren't doing "as much." its about challenging myself, searching for fulfillment. growth. enjoying the process. keeping a balance. laughing at myself, sharing what i learn and making it fun and exciting.

there is a bigger picture to it as well. i see these changes as creating a wave that will shift the direction the world is going. it has already begun. i want my kids to live this life starting young, while they're soaking it all in. so they can take it further, where ever that will be, when they come of age. i want to be with them, while they navigate through the sometimes chaotic world we live in, full of mixed messages and confused ideas. work along side them and help to facilitate a love for learning and a love for working hard to create your own reality. help them understand who they are in all of this, and that their identity is not what they were born into, but what they, literally, work to make it.

"I’m not against consumption; I’m against consumerism, which is the particular kind of consumption where we try to meet our emotional needs and show our status through our stuff. If you’re cold, get a sweater, no problem, I’m not against that. But if you think you’re better than the person with an older sweater next to you, or if you have eight sweaters while someone is cold next to you, or if your sweater was made at the expense of workers using toxics, pesticides, and heavy metal dyes, those are a problem." Annie Leonard - Environmental Activist

links: -my post was inspired in part by this article -Institute for Urban Homesteading in Oakland (classes)