What is your standard of living?


I drive a nine year old car(that’s considered an old car according to the standards of many of the people I know).  My husband’s car is 16 years old. Imagine that!  My home covers about 1000 square feet, but it’s easy to heat and cool and we have a garden out back.  I lament the fact that our standard of living in this country is solely based on how much money we make and the things we possess.  My standard of living is solely based on my deep seated convictions and morals and my contentment(not fleeting happiness based on my mood, how my day went, or my dwindling bank account).  I know my daughter doesn’t care how much money I make or if I wear make up, or if my clothes are new. She cares when I listen without judging her when she speaks.  She cares when we make dinner together.  She cares when we spend the day in our PJ’s reading books.  She, too, has a standard of living, and it’s not based on economics.   She is the exception–and it didn’t happen by chance.  We made a conscious decision to live the way we do and to teach our daughter by example.

I work a job that eliminates the need for my true, innate abilities–that of nurturer and caretaker.  It requires not an ounce of my creative abilities.  It requires me to repeatedly lift boxes, move stuff from here to there, and to count someone else’s money.  I see the faces of my bosses and coworkers on a daily basis–faces filled with misery and absolute abhorance of a retail job for a faceless corporation that is stealing our very souls. The merchandise, the store, the land itself, does not belong to us, yet some have chosen to give the best years of their lives to sustain it.  I work this job because I have to. I jumped on the corporate bandwagon in my mid twenties and quickly jumped off, only to be dragged behind it–for years. It is not where I want to stay, but until I reach my goal of being self sustaining, we all still have to eat.  How many of you can probably say the same thing about your own jobs?  We’ve become indentured servants to our mortgages, our car payments, and our kate facing sunshine overall economic standard of living. We live in a country where paid maternity leave must be earned.  Am I the only one who sees something wrong with that?  We are the richest nation, but misery, depression, isolation, drug addictions, and loneliness have permeated our society like a fast spreading cancer.  I want a different path–one I cannot purchase, that I don’t have to wait to get promoted to, and one I won’t retire from only to live out my last days too old and broken to enjoy.  ©Mary Flanagan Taylor June 19, 2010

“Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.”
Wendell Berry, brilliant Kentuckian


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