Some Thoughts on Making a Living   28 comments

Something that, over the last few years, I’ve seen as odd in our society is how common it is to interchange the idea of a job and the idea of making a living. Life in our industrial, capitalist economy has more and more removed us from the idea of making a living–or having a particular skill or trade–and instead moved us toward the idea of getting a job. We need money to pay rent or a mortgage and to buy food at the supermarket and to pay for our heating and electricity, to buy clothes and toiletries and of course to distract ourselves with the internet and television, Netflix and books (or the Kindle, perhaps) and music and DVDs (or Blu-Rays now, I suppose) and video games and a million other bits of stimulation. We need money simply to continue to exist on this planet, even if we pare back our lives considerably and remove most of the distractions. And the way most people get money is to get a job. However, jobs are ever more being removed from any particular, personal skill and more turning into slots to be filled by willing and able workers, until that slot is no longer necessary for the functioning of the corporation that holds it or until that worker is no longer willing or able.

I’ve played this game. I worked in the electronics department at Fred Meyer, a general retailer here in the Northwest, doing a variety of jobs over the course of six years. I made an hourly wage and received benefits and this job allowed me to continue to legally live on this planet, in this society, and gave me the means to distract myself from the various ways in which my life failed to satisfy me. The job was a slot and I filled it. It didn’t particularly make me happy and it certainly didn’t provide me with fulfilling work. It was a means to an end–it was a job to be worked, not a living to be made.

I think of making a living as something different. In my mind, there’s more meaning to it. These days, I don’t want a job. I want to make a living. And there is a certain literality in that term. In making a living, I want to be making something and I want to be making my life. This is why, in the last few years, I’ve turned to farming. With farming, I’m helping to make food while simultaneously crafting a new sort of existence for myself. I am making meaning within my life and creating happiness and joy and a connection to the land upon and community within which I live. In as much as this is the case, I then gain satisfaction from my work.

 

The fact that it’s not, in general, assumed that one should and will gain satisfaction from one’s work is not only some kind of special insanity, but it speaks very deeply, I believe, to the ennui that is so widespread in our society. We have transitioned to an economic and social structure that proclaims most jobs to be the province of nothing more than interchangeable drones. One is not expected to do good work–one is expected to do her job. That is all.

I want to do good work. I want to derive meaning and satisfaction from the work I do. Helping to grow healthy food for people in my community provides this meaning and satisfaction. Working for people whom are not just employers, but are neighbors and living mates and friends and damn near family–this provides me meaning and satisfaction and even joy. This also places my work in the context of something real. I’m helping to sustain my local community, not just selling shit to people who live in the same geographic area but with whom I have no connection. I’m feeding friends and neighbors, not enriching absent, unknown corporate executives and shareholders. I’m improving and connecting to the land I live on, not raping and pillaging it in a race to see how quickly it can be turned into money for people who already have too much of it.

Earlier this year, when I was working on the farm I currently live on for nothing more than room and board, a family member of mine would joke that I didn’t have a job because I didn’t get paid. And she was right–I didn’t have a job. I had good work instead.

Thank God for it.

 

I think the process of applying for a job speaks to how inhumane many jobs are. You first find an open position that seems as though it might not be entirely soul-destroying, then put together a resume and write a cover letter for that job–which is, essentially, an act of advertising oneself, often in a whorish manner. Then you wait too long for a response that may or may not come and hope for an interview, which–should it even occur–will often lurch its way through awkward questions and suffer from anxiety and terrifying optimism, quiet desperation and need, and will almost certainly bear no resemblance to normal human interaction. After this interview and perhaps multiple follow up interviews, you finally are told whether or not you got the job. Or not told. Sometimes, you simply don’t hear back, are forced to call and inquire as to your status, and then are told almost in an offhand manner–oh, did I forget to tell you?–that no, someone else was hired.

This is a horrid way to find work. Granted, I realize there are plenty of people out there who experience the above process in a more positive manner and there also are those who feed off the challenge of it. Even so, what is particularly human or humane about this process? There is rarely any sense of honesty or care to it, and it most often serves as a winnowing–a battle, a competition.

In contrast, I currently work for a neighboring farm and I found that work by simply asking if they needed help one evening while I was visiting to watch a basketball game. The two interns who had been living on the farm were both on the verge of leaving. As we talked about their impending exit, I casually mentioned to the farm’s owners–my neighbors–that I’d be happy to do some work for them if they needed it. They said that could work out great and everything fell into place from there. I started by mowing the fields, began to sell at the farmer’s market, and have branched out into other necessary tasks on the farm from there. The process was natural, it was human, and it literally began from a conversation, not a cover letter. I never had to sell myself to them. I simply had to offer to work, then show up, do it, and prove my worth. Everything else sorted itself out.

I’m not saying this is the only legitimate way to find work, but it is a particularly human way to find work. And I think it stands out in stark contrast to the way of finding work with a corporation or large organization that involves resumes and cover letters and nonsensical, anxiety-inducing interviews.

 

Many people see jobs as a ticket to security. And they’re not necessarily wrong in that assessment, though I think most of us now realize how tenuous such security is. Jobs provide a steady paycheck which can in turn provide a steady roof over your head, food on your table, and the resources to cover all those other odds and ends of living within our complex society. Jobs also can provide retirement plans and health benefits, though many jobs these days, of course, provide neither of these amenities. And if you have a career, well . . . that’s like a super job, certain to have those aforementioned amenities and perhaps more, along with a theoretical path to more money and more amenities and–again, theoretically–greater security. Perhaps a career even provides you with work that you really do find meaningful, but that’s in no way guaranteed. It may just be what you fell into, because it was a particularly nice looking slot that you were able to snag.

It’s been interesting to me, these last few years, to see the reactions of some people to my choice of work. Some think that it is a particularly shortsighted way to conduct my life–that I should be looking for a steady paycheck with a business, building a retirement fund, paying into social security, getting my damn teeth cleaned. And while I do indeed have a particular desire to be able to go get my teeth cleaned without it breaking my bank account, I have little desire to slot myself back into the system that will provide me with a retirement account and dental benefits.

In fact, I have little faith that a traditional job would provide me the sort of security that others think it would. I see us moving toward a future in which we will have dramatically less access to wealth and energy. In such a future, most of today’s retirement schemes will have ceased to exist but the sort of retirement scheme that has existed throughout most of human history–a base of knowledge and skills through which to prove and provide your worth–will be particularly relevant. So rather than build a 401k, I am learning how to grow food and raise animals, how to work the land, how to live with little money and energy, how to enjoy physical labor, how to be okay with extra blankets and less heat, how to entertain myself without benefit of TV or video games (cats work wonderfully in this regard, as do various kinds of poultry, as does observing and interacting with the land) and how to set up and piece together alternative energy systems. I am also learning to figure it out as I go, and I think that’s a skill that will be overwhelmingly useful in the near future.

It’s entirely possible I’m wrong about the future, though I feel relatively secure in my outlook. But even if I am, I still would choose the life I’m living now. What I’ve found with farming is that I’m building skills, I’m integrating into my community, I’m getting by, and I’m enjoying my life. I’m not making tons of money, I’m not in a perfectly secure financial situation, but I’m lucky enough to feel stable and not at any risk of being homeless or hungry. I’m making a living, in other words–very literally. And you know what? I really, really like it. It’s real, and humane, and satisfying, and it provides the deep connection and authenticity that I missed when I just had a job–and the absence of which was slowly killing me.

 

In making a living, I have a life. In working a job, I had no future. I don’t know everything this path will bring me, but I know that it will at least continue to bring me joy and new skills. I’ll trust that to secure my future more than I will a retirement account of any size.

Posted December 10, 2011 by Joel Caris in Essays, Farm Life, Work

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28 responses to “Some Thoughts on Making a Living

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  1. Excellent information about your perspective, and how it gives you meaning in your life. I think many people get caught up in what our society expects of them rather than what they expect of themselves. It is important to look within ourselves and determine what we do that gives us joy, happiness, and a sense of bliss. You’ve given the readers a clear sense of that. Thanks.
    ~from your Mom

  2. These days, I don’t want a job. I want to make a living. And there is a certain literality in that term. In making a living, I want to be making something and I want to be making my life.

    Exactly. This is what I have been repeating to myself and to others for months. After deciding that I wanted to quite my job and move, I got caught up in the drag of funding this adventure and almost immediately started to hunt for just another job to slot myself into, granted in a new area. That obviously won’t be enough. Fortunately I got my thoughts in order and realized that I don’t want to move to NM or OR to work in a restaurant or a shop just so that I can make enough money to live tolerably well and do fun things. I want to build my life from the ground up – MAKE a living, as you say.

    I was especially struck by your thoughts on job applications. I hadn’t applied for jobs in a few years, and doing it again I was rather disturbed by the process – it is TOTALLY like pimping yourself out! Yikes. I hated it. Never again. I am hoping to meet great people doing interesting work through my apprenticeship at Aprovecho and one thing will lead to another. People, and community, making a living/life together. As you say.

    Cats are ridiculously entertaining, aren’t they? :)

    Thanks for this excellent collection of thoughts – a resounding “Amen!” from me.

    • Yes, Sarah–why move to a new place just to recreate an approximation of the same life you have in Maine? I think going for a reset in a new area is a much more intriguing option. And I’m guessing that part of your wanting to move has to do with wanting a different sort of life. A change in scenery but not an actual change in work probably isn’t the best way to get that.

      I know I used to have fantasies about just getting in the car and driving somewhere, anywhere, and just establishing a new life. But it seems to me that one of the better ways to do that isn’t necessarily with a move–though that can certainly be a component–but with a change of your work. Not necessarily your job, but your work.

      It proved effective for me, at least.

      I’ve applied for a few jobs in Portland, including after rebooting my life through AmeriCorps and then farming. As I wrote in the post, it really is a horrid process. I hated it. And yes, it’s absolutely pimping yourself out. It’s just such a reflection of the odd state of our society. Getting a job in a completely different manner, through conversation and neighborliness, was something of a revelation.

      I imagine you’ll meet a ton of people through Aprovecho and, with any luck, that’ll open some doors. Wwoofing is a great experience, too, if you want to go that somewhat more transitory route for awhile. There are plenty of great farms in this neck of the woods where you could spend a couple weeks or a month working and learning and living a good life. I imagine there are some great ones down in NM, as well.

      And yes, cats are a huge percentage of the entertainment here on the farm. We have three of them, and they really are quite an excellent replacement for TV.

  3. I love this. So much to say here. I will have to come back and share some of my own story. Actually, I am about to go google my name and see how many blogs I have out there where I’ve written something over the past decade that echoes the concepts behind this.

    Any artist, writer, musician, potter, farmer, craftsperson can identify with this on a deep level. Some of them are lucky enough to make a living at their art. In this economy, however, it has been much more difficult (though not at all impossible) to do. And sometimes it’s just a matter of needing to stop the selling and turn to making just for the sake of seeing the fruits of your labors.

    Best!

    • Thanks, Susan! I think we’d all do well to focus a bit more on the fruits of our labors–or find a way for there to actually be some fruit, rather than just numbers on a computer screen or heat lost in the ether.

      I’ve often considered myself a writer, though I’ve too often not actually written, and I’ve always wanted to make a living from it. I still have vague ideas of perhaps making a touch of spare cash with my writing, but I’m also content to mostly make my living now with my physical labor. A fusion of the two would be ideal.

      I think the people you mention, though, may find it a bit easier to make a living with their art and work in the near future. It may be a different sort of living than what we consider standard today–and may involve less cash and more barter and exchange–but a living it will be nonetheless. And being able to make that through good work you enjoy is nothing to dismiss.

    • Oh, and yes, please do come back and share some of your story!

  4. Joel, I have been on a whirlwind today. I often do that when I get going on my artistic side with things that have been festering. For me writing comes in bursts and then I go to painting or gardening or crochet or some other “artist brain activity” that allows me to think while I’m doing the thing — then I get to a point where there’s so much in my head that I have to just go to the computer for a while. I’m used to it, my family and friends are used to it, but it drives my kids crazy. And people like my son’s new girlfriend, soon to be wife I’m sure, are probably hiding from me right now because they don’t understand the fury and the passion that comes from all my life experiences — and then I ease off and coast for a while, and it’s spring, and then summer, and you know, it’s just fine.

    I’m going to learn a lot from you. I know that. I have a piece of writing I’d love for you to see that’s a part of my thesis. I think it’s online somewhere and if I can find it — wait, I know where it is –(the other thing I do often in these phases is create another blog, and I’m really, really trying not to do that again. I already have a tumbler, a posterous, a salon.com, an opensalon, a blogger, a few wordpress blogs and who knows what all. I just for fun google my name every now and then and see all the shit I’ve put out there in the past…

    anyway, I’ll look for it and attach it — but I like what you’re saying about the barter and such – I live on almost no money and it’s okay. I don’t have a car so the only fuel I pay for is for my body and my cats are being fed by the woman whose cats I’m caring for — and I’m thinking that I’m going to try to find someone else to live with me here in this house if the owner decides not to come back home. Or I’ll go to one of the senior only centers now that I can apply for them. There are all sorts of things available suddenly now that I’m 62. I am just not going to worry about a JOB any more. I hope your diary gets going today but if it doesn’t keep writing anyway.

    • You’re awesome, Susan. I would love to see your writing. You can post it here if you feel that’s appropriate or feel free to email it to me. My email’s on the contact page.

      Barter’s pretty fantastic when you can get it. It simplifies things, it feels more natural, it helps to reinforce human relationships, and it makes for a more resilient sort of economy and community. It is community, really–much more than money. I love to hear the way you’re piecing it together. I’m sure it’s challenging, of course, but I think there’s something really satisfying about it, at the same time. (Don’t know if that’s your exact experience. I am known to romanticize things!)

      I won’t have a new post up tonight, but I have an idea brewing that I hopefully will be able to get out there tomorrow evening. It would be quite appropriate for DK, too, so I’ll cross post there if I do get it written.

  5. I like your reply, Susan. I’m 65 and I know what it is like not to have a job. I was going through old paperwork today and found a quote (not sure by whom, since I don’t have that on the paper). The quote is “I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.” That is close to what you wrote, Joel. My thoughts on bartering are that I heard of a great example. My friend cleans houses. She needed chiropratic work, so she made a deal with the chiropractor that she will clean his office and he will give her chiropractic treatments.

    • Thanks, Dixie. I actually have done all manner of work, both for pay and for barter. In the times between corporate jobs I owned my own business for 7 years, and in one three year period in Atlanta I had six jobs. Another time I had three part-time jobs and my list of things I’ve done even makes my therapist’s head spin. I have never wanted to do anything but paint and write but like my father before me (and partly because of him) I never thought of a writer as “earning a living” because I had no role models that did that until I came back to Alabama and met TONS of them. Then I still had to go back to school to become “certified” in my own mind – actually, that’s not even true. I went back to school because my financial aid was always more than I could earn.

      I have got to stop retelling the myths that I told everyone all along and start telling it like it really was. Once I started going back to school after my divorce, I was never able to pay back a loan on my earnings. Still trying to find that story.

      • You are a great writer! Keep going with it. From all of your experiences, it gives you a lot more information for your writing. I truly believe that we create our own lives, rather than believing circumstances create our lives. Hang in there, Susan. You will “find that story”.

        • I’m going all the way this time and I am going to ask you to look for updates — if I know people are expecting me to do it I’ll get busy and pull the closet full of letters down, the boxes full of photos and the diaries I’ve been filling up since 1972. I just have to do it. Thanks.

  6. nice blog, nice life, nice conversation! i live similarly in italy, on 5 acres in the umbrian appennines. i have a horse, a donkey, a dog and a cat, and i write/sing/play/record music in my little studio, when i’m not planting, harvesting, ploughing, composting, hiking, or reading blogs. i found you through dkos, where i have been blogging since 2003! damn i love that site!
    you sure can write, Joel. bookmarked…

    • Thanks, Michael! Your life sounds pretty nice, as well. The farm I’m working at but not living on has a donkey named possum, and I’m a bit enamored with him, even though he always seems sad. But I suppose that’s just how donkeys seem. He’s a sweetheart, to be sure.

      5 acres in Italy sounds pretty heavenly, though I admittedly know nothing about the Umbrian Appennines. Perhaps it’s research time.

  7. One of the more interesting aspects of my periodic blogging explosions like the one I’ve been on for three days now is that I can’t even remember what I wrote, and some of the above posts are so much like my own thoughts that I couldn’t remember which was me and which was someone else…lol.

    I do want to say that the “going all the way this time” doesn’t mean jumping off a cliff or anything but just finishing the collection of stories and pulling them all into some form of published grouping. Who knows what form it will eventually take. I am glad to have you here, but I’ve got to get back over to Kos or I’ll never finish waht I’ve started…lol.

    • No worries, Susan. Do what you need to do! I suspected going all the way didn’t mean jumping off the cliff, but now that you’ve put that idea in my head, I may start approaching the phrase with a bit more suspicion. I would definitely be interested in reading one or more of your short stories whenever they’re ready.

  8. I have enjoyed reading your thoughts on the soullessness of much of the job business, as well as sharing on your farming. I’ve been growing some of my own food for the past 15 years, and have sold vegetables to others at times because of the need to have some additional income along side my full-time job. It’s ironic, I have been an administrative assistant in the pharmaceutical industry for the past ten years, and one of my goals is to stay as healthy as I can so that I do not need to get on their medicinal merry-go-round. Part of that is growing my organic vegetables, and each year try to see if I can actually grow enough, and learn how to put food away (root cellaring, fermenting, etc.) This year we lost power during the October snowstorm that also pulled down trees and broke branches, and neighbors around us in our semi-rural area bought generators to keep their deer carcasses in their freezer from spoiling. We chose not to spend money yet on that big expense, but it made me think of the things I need to plant next year and how to put them away. For instance, I was used to freezing my tomatoes for the winter, but I think this year I will can them instead. I hope I have the time this year to ferment vegetables like sauerkraut, turnips, beets, and beans. I walk the razors edge of the “now” instead of veering off into doom and gloom with this economy, or fantasizing about retirement (I just turned 65, and can “collect” the regular benefits in one year. I just got my medicare card. Along with many others, I fear that soc sec and medicare might be taken away. The world is very uncertain, yet my main goal with where we live has been to provide some measure of food security for us and to eat healthier food (my husband has a chronic illness, and somehow he decided to get off the sugar and grains, and now seems to baffle his hemotologist with the stability of his illness). I got off the sugar and grains four years ago, lost 40 lbs, and have a greater measure of usable energy that gives me hope that I will be able to realize some of my dreams–have an onsite organic farm stand, and paint in my studio. Even if I have to work until I am 70 part-time. I belong to some 12-step groups that give me a great sense of spirituality and community, and I started to teach some in our larger community how to grow their own food, which I think is the most important thing one can learn to do if they have a backyard and some direct sun.

    • Thank you, Basha. It sounds like you’re doing good work, which is fantastic. I’m glad you’ll get your Social Security and Medicare. I’m sure it’ll stick around for awhile longer, but I don’t expect to see it, personally. I’m too far out from that point in my life. I’d be very surprised if it was still around in 35 or 40 years.

      I love fermenting veggies and am always pleased to hear of others doing it. It’s so simple, too—easier than water bath canning. Of course, it has its drawbacks, as well. But it’s a nice part of the preservation portfolio, to be sure.

      It seems like moving away from overconsumption of sugar and grains is one of the better dietary choices that can be made, when such choices are an option. I tend to eat too many of those, I think. Grain and gluten doesn’t seem to give me the sort of trouble that it does a lot of people, though. Sugar, on the other hand . . . well, I can consume it and I don’t feel it causes huge problems, but I can sense its effect, as well. That’s an ongoing challenge, trying to cut back on the sugar.

      That’s fantastic that you’re teaching others how to grow food. All of us who have any knowledge in that area should be sharing and teaching—many more will have to grow food in the future. Luckily, I think most will enjoy it. But there will be a need to get the basic knowledge and skills out there.

      Do you have any particular practices that help you to stay in the “now” and keep from careening over to the doom and gloom side? I’m curious to know how others handle this particular state of affairs. I’m planning to write a post soon on how to hold onto hope in the face of a harsh future and while I have ideas on what I plan to write, hearing about how others do it I think would help the thought process.

      • WARNING–LONG POST.

        The more that we know that we are heading towards the cliff of extinction (whether it will come apocolyptically, or in the Long Descent) the harder it is to have hope and the easier it is to fall into despair. When I was a child, we were terrified about the bomb falling, and some people built bomb shelters. Little children were left to their imaginations, and mine went wild. Before that, however, my religious schooling talked extensively about fire and brimstone, Satan, and mortal and venial sin, so that I would lie awake as a seven year old trying to think if I had any sins on my soul that would condemn me to purgatory or hell should I die in my sleep. As a teenager I discovered that if I drank alcohol, I would feel happy–and the next ten years did so until I realized that it was going to kill me and I joined AA. I have been sober for 38 years, and they have been mostly happy years. I had to find a power greater than myself, and still seek to define this power, even though it is hard for me to believe in a personal God. I do find God in nature, in the perfection of it, but to believe that God will save me from anything, well, I see that we all die, and therefore, why would God save me from dying? My younger sister died from alcoholism, as did many others in my family.

        My route to sanity is to try to live with a light footprint, to meditate (because I learned that meditation helps me to practice being in the now, and also seems to help my intuition skills to grow), to eat radically healthy (no grains and sugar, organic vegetables, no snacking between meals–like Judy Collins says now–I protect what I eat as if I were an athlete, weighing and measuring and even carrying my own food to events–because I want to make sure I have what I need). I like to think more along the lines of getting a black belt in a martial art. One reason why I eat this way is that I feel so much more peaceful physically.

        Recently (five years ago) I discovered Eckhart Tolle, and although I don’t follow him, I took his tapes on The Power of Now out of the library and listened to them on my way to work. Through his speaking, I realized that my thoughts have always captured me and carried me along like a wild river so that I am either fighting thoughts of the past (sadness, “what-if” thinking, ruminating on how I have been treated badly (creating resentment), or of the future–fantasy of pleasureable things that I think will improve my life, or anxious thoughts of loss, lack, catastrophe. I started to practice observing my thoughts, and when I would catch myself caught up in my thinking, I would pull myself back into my body–feel my feet on the floor, watch my breathing, look at the sky or birds or trees, and started to see that my mind is not my best friend, as it is in a habitual mode of past or future thinking. I actually experienced my own power in dealing with bosses when I practiced being totally present and in my body when they were giving me grief–and in my responses was able to get them to hear me and to get them to change their minds–a long story.

        So I learned in my 12-step program that all we need to do is clean house and serve others, and we will find God. I find my higher power of sorts in the act of confessing my character defects to my sponsor, and in helping other alcoholics. I also made amends to family of origin members and others who I have harmed, and my program gives me tools to do that on an ongoing basis.

        So I have come to have a happy life more than I ever thought I would, yet I cannot bury my head in the sand when it comes to the state of the world and how we are so insane with our unsustainable ways. Luckily I have found that the real joys in life come from helping others, but if my body is not optimal, it is harder to help others. My husband has mylefibrosis (end stage is leukemia), but he seems to be doing well with eating better. I had to step up to become the main bread-winner (although I don’t eat bread), and somehow after getting over my resentment at my fate, I was able to do that. And with willingness to seek God’s will (whatever God is–I think I have settled for Good Orderly Direction).

        There are so many good people in the world, maybe we still have a chance–but a chance for what? We cannot continue to degrade the oceans, the drinking water (now, my state Pennsylvania want unlimited control over all townships regarding fracking–to take away our voice locally), I lie awake in windstorms thinking of how am I going to repair the barn roof, never mind that the house roof is already 15 years old, and I catch myself and bring myself back into my body, and turn it over to God, whatever God is.

        We are all in the same boat, we all breathe the same polluted air, we are all the same–just some are more fearful than others, and feel that they need to get more in order to feel secure. If someone comes for my root cellar contents, what will I do? There is my mind again, seeking the doom. I have today, only today. I can clean house and try to serve others today, I can clean my own side of the street. I can vote, I can engage, there might come a time when I MUST engage in a way that I have not felt I had to up until now. Meanwhile, eat right, meditate, work with others, go to meetings, go to my job, plan the garden, clean the house, stay present. Be open to others’ ideas.

        • Thank you for sharing all that, Basha. It sounds like you’ve gained a lot of good wisdom and have managed to put yourself in a good place for the time being—which is so much! I’m impressed, to say the least. I think you’re farther along than a lot of us are.

          I think we still have a chance to craft a good future, a place where humans have a lot of options to live well open to them. But that’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of honesty about what we’re doing here and a lot of rough transition time. That’s part of being human, though. I have to be honest—I’ve never really understood the draw of transcendence, of freedom from misery. Not that I want to be miserable, but the idea of transcending all pain seems pointless to me. I don’t understand what we’re here for if it’s not the challenge of learning how to live well, how to do good work, how to try to make this world as good as we can make it. Seems to me that such work requires at least some pain. How do you learn without that challenge? How do you figure out what’s worth doing if you don’t have at least some pain and failure as a reference point?

          I don’t know what the future holds, but it sounds to me like you’re in as good as a place as you probably can be to face it. I imagine it will be a struggle and we often won’t know what we’re doing. The mindfulness you appear to be cultivating should be extremely helpful.

          Thanks again for sharing your story. I really enjoyed it.

  9. Thanks for sharing so much about your life. I’m learning how important it is to stay in the present moment. I waste too much energy worrying about future events that probably won’t happen. Age is not in my favor when I’m old enough to know all of the negative events that have happened to many other people. I think I am happier when I concentrate on what is happening to me right now. The past has no bearing on what I create right now. A new friend told me she has become happier by telling herself she has two choices when she wakes up every morning. She can choose to be happy, or she can choose to worry and be unhappy all of that day. Every morning she consciously chooses to be happy, and that has made a great difference in her life. I think God is the energy of Love and that energy is all around me all of the time. I just have to remember that when I get in a difficult situation.

    • There’s a lot to be learned from the past, but it’s important we don’t let it unnecessarily dictate what we do going forward. It can definitely become a trap—I’ve often let it be so for me. That’s a continuing challenge, to deal with the present on its own terms, utilizing what I’ve learned in the past but not letting it narrow the ways in which I consider dealing with the present.

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  13. Found your blog through the Arch Druid site, and added it to my favorites. Farming here as well, and have similar thoughts. Thanks for putting the thoughts down in a logical order.

    • Thanks, Jeff! I’m lucky my brain managed to organize them into a logical order. Must have been a good day.

      You’re in Lebanon, huh? It’s always kind of exciting to have (relatively) local people find the blog, especially other farmers. Maybe I could visit your place one of these days.

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