Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dirt Rich

I wonder how many modern American health problems are a direct result of our wealth? Especially those mental health problems. I wonder if we would be happier with less, more at our ease with less.

Over the years, I've thought often about artful lives and beautiful lives, and I've wondered how much happier I might be if I spent more time crafting a beautiful life than hammering together a life with "enough." This weekend made me consider those ideas again.

We didn't spend money or meet demands. We just enjoyed the beauty of dogwood leaves and passing clouds, green cabbage worms and blue butterflies.

It wasn't easy, though. I had to make myself stop for breakfast. I had to force myself to put down my fork between bites to actually taste the food. I had to control my impatience when Fain wanted to dawdle. I had to persuade myself to lie still underneath the tree, to stop pulling at weeds when I was tired. I had to focus my vision on what we already had at home to prevent myself from thinking of all of the things that we should go to Wal-mart to buy. I had to tell myself that I wanted to take time to make my life beautiful, and jewelry or a degree or a raise wouldn't contribute to the art of living at all. Only by sitting still and considering the brushstrokes, so to speak, those small daily actions and words that create the moments, the still life images, of life could I really end with something breath-taking.

And I felt more relaxed, happier; I could even see clearly for the first time in weeks. I didn't have a stomach ache or a head ache. I felt well.

I wonder if being "dirt poor" gives us the opportunity to practice creativity, which in turn enriches our lives with new skills and insights. I wonder if the term shouldn't be "dirt rich" since those who are "cash poor" by American standards have to rely more on what comes from the earth, including their own humanity, imagination, and intellect, and who, in doing so, take on those lovely qualities of the earth.

"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." from Matthew

1 comment:

  1. I think you can find joy either with or without money, each path is dangerous, but in different ways.

    Taking time to taste food and enjoy a flower or giggle at a silly squirrel is an excellent way to start cultivating more joy and genuine pleasure. Any time you slow down and smell the earth or watch the clouds you are once more in the flow of things greater and more wise and you cannot help but come away feeling more full and joyous.


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A Mirror, A Summer, A Street by Autumn Crisp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.