It seems that everywhere I look I see people wanting more. The Tarzghet commercials say, "all I know is I want more!", the bumper stickers that proclaim: 'born to shop', and 'I'm a princess'. Again and again I hear 100 grand a year as the magic salary number so many people are shooting for. People buy bigger houses, newer cars, more clothes when they have a closetful. Makeup in this season's "New" colors. The newest tech toys. More more more more more. Everybody wants to be King. Why?
Before coming back to school and working regularly at my internship around people who make a decent living with good benefits I didn't know that I was poor. I knew that when I read about the U.S. government's criteria of 'poverty level' that I was pretty darn close to it. I knew that I often struggled for basic things like rent and transportation, had no health insurance or paid vacations, no savings or retirement. But I'd never been that freaked out about it. Baseline was always a feeling of gratefulness that I had food and a place to live, that I had a strong body, that the kitties were furry and happy, that my living was interesting and deep and fun and full of heart. But lately, as I've struggled for this thing called a 'graduate degree', where mastery of it will most likely lead to a fulltime job with the money and benefits that come along with it, I've had a lot of opportunity to reflect on this whole Being Poor thing.
Being poor has been a great gift for me, especially the past few months. It has allowed me to begin to let go of Things even more, to purchase only what I truly need. And then to question what I need, to look deeply into it, straight in the eye of the Want that is harbored in the illusion of Need.
I am grateful that I haven't been able to afford health insurance for all these years. It means that I haven't taken antibiotics or weird pharmaceuticals, had strange tests or surgeries done. Of course I've been lucky to have good health. But this is also a product of being very protective of my health. I taught myself self-care, how to use herbs and supplements, the benefits of clean food, sweaty exercise, plenty of sleep. I learned how to use the bounty around me as medicine. Energywork from friends. Medicinal baths in my tub with mineral salts and aromatherapy. Bartering for massage and acupuncture and such.
It means that a couple of weeks ago, when I got how intense the dis-ease was in my body, not only was I able to identify it, but I also knew how to begin curing it, how to layer in the healing modalities, slowly build and stretch and cleanse, gently opening into expansiveness.
And it means that coping with an astronomical heating bill turned into an adventure. One that contained much fun in the layering of clothing, in the discovering of the ongoing wondrousness of taking a hot water bottle to bed. And in using the electric couch throw my sister gave me for my birthday and snuggling under it after a long day when my body aches, (the hot water heater is small and I'm unable to take a bath without hassle and expense) and my muscles unfurl in a cascade of ahhhhhhhh, and Life is just so good.
I now take the bus to work a couple of days a week, which saves using the car, but is also a way to use less fuel, less carbon emissions into the air. And I gain a half hour to relax and woolgather, something I don't allow myself these days, or at least not guilt free. And I people-watch, a group that I never interact with, lower SES folks who live in my neighborhood, but that I don't spend time with other than to pass them on the street. Now I listen to their conversations, take in their clothes, their hairstyles, the way their living plays across their faces. I don't speak yet. I still feel shy. But soon. They watch me, too. I wonder how diiferent I look to them . . .
It isn't that I need to be poor to feel okay, or that I'm against making a better living than I do now. But I hope that I never lose this longing for Less, this desire to walk gently, softly on the earth.
Thank you Life, and I don't ask for More, but instead thank you for allowing me to feel satisfied with Less, for allowing my heart to wrap it's yearn-y tendrils around what You have brought to me so that I can enjoy it's more hidden, subtle yumminess. Who knew such joy could be had from an electric blanket??? You are amazing, Your sense of humor so quirky and kinky and flavorful and hysterically appropriate. Who else would have me having such a blast in this Land of The Mind? You break my heart, but out of the fissure rises ghosts from the past, that rise up and away, freeing me from chains I didn't even know I was wrapped in. You break my heart, and out of the fissure rises a superhero power: the ability to fly on wings of Loving and Living when I finally understand with all of my heart and soul that I will experience pain, I will die, and so will everyone I love. Thank you, Life, for Less in my living, so that I can experience More in my heart. Thank you for so often ignoring what I want, and for continuing to bring me everything I need, even when I don't understand the difference until deep in the process.
Thank you Life. Thank you for this life . . .