Circling back

After last night’s sorting through 20 years of thinking, on a string of topics that are finally all coming together, I needed a good night’s sleep. This morning it occurred to me, as I sat down with my notebook and pen, that what I had finally done was to make sense of my own journey through life to date. I rambled my way from being captivated by the french language as a high school student by a particularly inspiring teacher, which ultimately led me to live in France, and finally end up with not only a Bachelor’s degree, but a Master’s degree in french literature.  Along that journey, I spent 5 years working at a job as a stock broker at the height of capitalistic frenzy, the 80’s. I abandoned that job when I went back to school to get my graduate degree.  There was something even then that I found deeply disturbing about the pure lust for more and more money that led up to the 1987 epic market crash. In graduate school, though I was ostensibly there to study french literature, I dove headlong into the philosophical and anthropological questions of the moment. I found captivating the radical ideas I discovered in french post-modern thought. I considered continuing in the PhD program, but for some reason the practical part of me won that argument.  If I had three degrees in french literature from one institution, what were the chances that I would ever find employment living in the same city with that same institution.  Not only that, but really, in my heart of hearts, I knew that I did not have the makings of a career Academic.  So, I did the only thing that made sense at that moment in time. I had a baby. Right… Of course… That follows… But of course it does… Because I had to, in order to fully grasp the things that finally made sense last night and this morning.  I had to experience what it feels like to have a job that is incredibly financially lucrative, followed by one which is barely financially adequate (graduate student/french teacher), followed by one in which I am paid nothing at all (stay-at-home mom). The only thing that has changed about who I am is what I am doing. But, was I a more or less valuable person at any point in time because of the job I held, or the number of digits on my paycheck? I’ve struggled with that question, even though I really do know the answer.

The other thing that was suddenly clear this morning is that I hold two paradigms as fundamental to the human experience that are uneasy bedfellows. A number of years ago, a friend said to me, “you know, there really are only 2 emotions and all the others come from them: Fear and Love.”  I pondered that for a while, and came to believe that it is true.  As I explained to my children, fear is the one that makes your heart constrict.  Love is the one that makes your heart expand.  Fear makes me feel protective of myself and the things I hold of value.  Love allows me to give of myself and of my substance.  What I realized is that market economies are related to fear and gift economies are related to love.  The feeling of abundance accompanies love in a gift economy, and scarcity accompanies fear in a market economy.  As long as human beings believe that the only way to feel safe (no fear) is by accumulation (market economy) they will be denied access to that which they truly desire: Love.

Now I need to give credit to Dave, who wrote a comment today about how much he loves the Beatles lyrics that I quoted a week ago, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”, because, I realized when I read his comment, that this is what I’ve been circling back to through all of this philosophical gibberish (which isn’t really gibberish).  But to understand it fully, and for me that means tracking back through the whys and why nots, I had to go through it all, and suddenly the last 30 years of my life do not look like a chaotic mess… a hairball of paths through life… a series of passionate interests overlapping and veering off in different directions.

I started writing this blog, telling myself it was for me and that it didn’t matter who read it or even if no one read it.  Then I found out there were actually people reading it and I got hooked by the graphs that showed how many!  Now, after little more than a week, I know that I really am writing for myself.  At least today.

I’m not sure how any of this can be represented photographically, but since it jelled after I was out with the dogs, maybe an image from my walk is the best answer. And since today was the first day in what seems like eternity that I enjoyed just being outside, I took my time.  Everywhere is water. Droplets cling to the tips of new growth as well as to the battered remains of the fall:

A rain-soaked world

And maybe now, after all this sorting, I will just get on with being… and continue on my merry way through the hair ball of paths that seem to all be mine to travel and just enjoy the myriad experiences that this crazy journey offers. Stay tuned…

I posted this several hours ago, and as I was cleaning out the overflowing inbox in my email, I came across a link that I had forgotten about.  I’d seen before, but after working through all of this today I watched it again and wanted to share it: in case anyone was reading this.


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