But has anyone bothered to ask where the great big mean old corporations get all that money? They aren’t printing it. They aren’t stealing it. Where does it come from?
From you and from me. That’s where. Each and every one of us is responsible for this mess, because the entire time we are waving our picket signs with one hand, we are giving our money to huge companies with the other. And all the while, we are foolishly expecting those in power to say “Hey. You’re right. This isn’t cool. We’re manipulating and exploiting everyone, and they’re just letting us, so we should stop.”
I consider myself an optimist, but to put it as kindly as possible, I don’t see this approach making an impact, like, ever.
Every day of our lives represents a series of choices. Take the car or take a walk. Corporate grocery store or farmer’s market. Big box retailer or buy local. You get the idea, and I’m willing to acknowledge that some choices are more practical than others – I don’t expect all of you to quit your jobs and start communes. I’m not advocating anything that radical. All I’m asking you to do is to be aware. Make conscious choices about these things. Recognize that we are and will remain in control of this problem, but that we are really only in control of ourselves.
So control yourself, already.
Our first reaction to anger is anger. Our first reaction to violence is violence. Our first reaction to hate is more hate. Instead, we must cultivate the patience to understand that anger generally begins as sadness, that violence is borne of fear, and that hate is the intersection of all of these emotions. Recognizing the source of these emotions is crucial to overcoming them, and we each have a responsibility to make certain that they end with us.
I went out of town and missed a post and then I was tired when I got home and I missed another post and then my routine was completely out the window and I hadn’t been waking up every morning and writing and then that habit was broken and … Well, suffice it to say that this thing doesn’t write itself.
When I reflect upon my many failed attempts to make positive change in my life, this is the point where it always falls apart. I’ve addressed this before, but I really felt like I had made a habit of waking up early every morning and making the time to write – I felt like I’d made it over that last bit of the mountain. Perhaps it’s not that simple – or perhaps I had just hit a plateau on the long, steep climb to real, lasting change – but part of me was ready to let this thing go. At least for now.
If we can carefully and honestly assess questions such as these, and have the courage to make choices based on our responses, the results are life-changing. This is of course far easier said than done, but that’s why I’m here – to make the case that we can all do it.
I have pushed as hard as I could in the opposite direction. It didn’t work out. We will never experience the kind of joy and contentment that we are capable of experiencing if we try to fit into roles that don’t match who we are, and the harder we try, the more painful it becomes.
Nobody’s going to do it for us.
3. There is hope. As your attorney I advise you, there is no law that says we have to play by their rules. This idea was also embedded in my previous post, but I’d like to elaborate.
I make choices that lessen the impact of “their” choices on me. You have all the freedom in the world to do that, too: Close your bank account. Skip grad school. Grow some of your own food. Take it out in trade. Ride a bike. Read a book. Quit borrowing money.
You get the idea.
In addition, I choose to be an optimist to the extent possible, and I try and share that optimism. I try to cultivate compassion and gratitude and patience in every moment of my life, and this allows me to be happy no matter what Wally Wall Street does with my student loan payments. He can choke on them, for all I care, because I still have a beautiful wife, an amazing little girl, and another little one on the way. I still have my friends, my books, my MP3 collection and my guitars. “They” can still be as greedy and selfish as they darn well please, and “we” can still take a long walk while the sun comes up, drink cold beer on the front porch, and sing songs to our children – and there is nothing they can do to take those things away from us. Not ever. I promise.
They can only make it as bad for us as we let them. Please don’t loose sight of that.
The North Wind and the Sun saw a man walking and began to argue over which one of them would first be able to make the man remove his cloak.
Arrogantly, the wind blew as hard as it could at the walking man in an attempt to blow his cloak right off of his back, but the harder the wind blew, the tighter the man pulled his cloak around his shoulders. The wind blew and blew but could not remove the walking man’s cloak.
Smiling, the sun simply parted the clouds and shone down in all its warmth and kindness at the walking man. The man smiled back, and happily removed his own cloak.
Where force fails, kindness often prevails.
For more resources on this subject, Google the phrase “Be the change you seek“, which is, you’ll find, a quote from Gandhi (or a paraphrase, I don’t know, I didn’t hear him say it).
And as I like to do when I’ve written a little on the heavy side, I’ll leave you with another highly entertaining John Prine song, this time covered by the Avett Brothers.
As, ahem, “entertaining” as the verses are, wait for the chorus …
My wish is that The Blessed Bohemian will serve some very specific purposes. I want to share my journey toward contentment so that other people will see that there is a way to get there, and as a way of holding myself accountable for the changes I’ve committed to making. I want to provide a means for like-minded individuals to connect with me and one another, because I think that changing the world will be easier for all of us if we have a little help. Finally, I want to inspire and encourage others to live in harmony with their values, talents and passions.
I think we can all find our purpose. I think our lives can have more meaning. I believe we can cultivate freedom, and in the process, redefine prosperity. I believe that we can be happy.
Blessed: An adjective meaning blissfully happy, contented, or fortunate.
Bohemian: An adjective describing a person who lives free of regard for conventional rules or practices.
These terms will define the scope of our discussions here. The old way simply doesn’t work. This is the Way of the Blessed Bohemian. I am committing to defining the scope of my life by these same terms, and I hope you’ll join in the discussion.