Monday, April 5, 2010

Life: There's something amiss here.

i've been thinking recently and i've come to the conclusion that our culture is focused on the wrong things. 

Try not to say "duh" and roll your eyes at me for just a second. I'm aware that this is a fairly obvious observation.  But please, allow me to explain what specifically I mean...

See, I'm the kind of person who is very obsessed with the "Meaning Of Life" (all in capital glowing letters with an orchestra playing triumphant music in the background). I like to sit around and ponder, I like to fill my time with things that I feel are enhancing to me on either a mental, spiritual, physical or emotional level. I pretty much don't do things if they don't fit one or another of those criteria. 

As you can expect, this has made for a fairly nontraditional lifestyle for me. 

My weird life aside (we'll save the details for another day), I kind of want to talk about the principals that drive these decisions and I'd like to wonder why more people, or really, society on the whole isn't governed in more of this direction. 

Look at how most people spend their time (and this is NOT a criticism, just an observation): Get up, go to work, come home, watch TV, eat, go to sleep. Weekends are for errands and home maintenance and, more often than not, some heavy or at least moderate drinking.  Lather, rinse, repeat. If you have children, work them in around the seams - either drop them off at school/daycare, pick them up and include some baths and maybe some children's movies or hopefully some playtime and that's about it.

But what i want to know is where is the time for the REAL priorities? And why has our culture evolved to the state of existence where this is an absurd question?

Sure, it's one thing if you're the kind of person who LOVES their job and lives for it and who feels fundamentally fulfilled as a person by the work you're doing. Than I definitely think that spending 10 hours a day in commute/at work is not only a valid way to spend your time but a GREAT way to spend it. Unfortunately, of the probaly 1,000 people i know, there is literally only ONE person in my life who fits that criteria.  Most of the other people I know are working/living life like this because they have to, because there is not another option.  Isn't that unfortunate? 
Why do we live in a society where there is really no other choice?  Why is the best option to pick the job that appeals to us the most out of all the other options?  Why are we settling for the least crappy choice? 

I mean honestly, wouldn't it be nice if our culture was more focused on family and enriching activities?  What if it was more like it used to be in the middle ages, where a family ran the household together, where they were all responsible for their livelihood and they made what was needed for themselves and their neighbors and that was enough.  Why is it that suddenly life is focused on being outside of the home, away from the family, becoming a robot in a cubicle and spending all the best years of your life (and hours of your day) by imputing information into the great machine of the Corporation? 

There is no focus on community anymore, instead it's the Global Community.  There is no Neighborhood Unity, no Family Focus.  Time with your children (from BOTH parents) is a luxury.  It's all about these meaningless things - arbitrary steps in a system that is fabricated to give us false senses of meaning: promotions, bonuses, projects, deadlines. Outside of the building that you work in these things don't even exist, they have no universal currency, they mean nothing to anyone else but the people on your Team or in your office complex.  Time spent with family however, THAT is a universal concept that has meaning. Enriching your spirit, that holds real value. Doing something that stirs you on an absolutely fundamental level - that's the stuff that lives have revolved around since the beginning of time...or at least they used to.

What has happened to out culture?  Why do all of these pursuits get shuffled to the back of the line? Why is family time often the last thing on our list yet getting to some gray building on time in the morning is first?  Why does it matter what reports get filed when? How will that ever ultimately stir something within you on any level that's real?  How will that ever be the thing that really truly makes your life not just a series of passed hours but instead a series of Events that have something to do with You. 

Sure, you can inject yourself into your work, you definitely can make a difference in these corporations. I don't want to suggest that you can't or that they don't give you a chance to do that...but I do ask why it's so hard for the people who just don't want that life.  Why does this culture shun the idea of being LESS work-focused and more family/life focused. Why is it taboo to want to LIVE more and work less?

The culture has even tried to take mothering away from us. How many women now choose a career over their family?  And why? Because somehow it is socially unacceptable not to be a career woman.  Somehow it is no longer okay to stay home and raise your children and NOT worry about what your career title it is.  

And even worse, it's now officially way harder financially to be a one-income home. That's the other thing the culture has done to us - made it Necessary for us to work because we cannot be educated members of society if we are unable to repay those debts. 

It just seems unfair to me.  Unfair and skewed.  I have a husband who would love nothing more than to immerse himself in studying history and learning as much as he can about it and i KNOW that if he had the chance to do that he would be enriched and fulfilled beyond all words. He would eventually contribute back to society in great ways through writing or lecturing or other things that would come to him by getting to live this dream.  But is he ever going to be able to do that?  I doubt it.  And why? Because our culture doesn't really make it possible. 

He cannot throw himself into learning and have a family, nor can he do it and go to school.  He can't abandon the workforce at this stage of his life because then he will have to explain himself to potential future employers and the odds are that they wouldn't respect his lapse from the workforce. 

The point is, he cannot live his dream and so he tries to tell himself that he just simply doesn't want to do it. 

But i know that's a lie.  and that breaks my heart. 

I don't understand a society that is designed to put all of it's citizens into little slots where they have to do repetitive tasks over and over again in order to pay their dues and pay back the schooling that they HAD to do to get them there in the first place.  It seems unfair and it seems to me like the priorities are seriously screwed up. 

If I could restructure things, I would. I would have a much more community-oriented culture with the priority on family, on using and taking and creating only what you need and on giving back.  People would work of course but they would do things they liked, they would support one another and they would not need to work forever.  The culture would be focused on finding what is inside people's hearts and souls and helping them achieve those goals. My husband would study and I would write and we would still be able to exist somehow.  Others would get to have their antique shops, their horse farms, their artist studios and everyone would be home in the early afternoon to see their children and their spouses and families would get together on the weekends and just enjoy one another. 

I don't know why that world is so far-fetched. Why is that kind of life so impossible to have?  What has happened to us that imagining all of that is just farcical at this point?  Why do i seem like a naive child when i write this instead of someone who has an innovative perspective?  Because something is wrong here in this culture, that's why. 

And i honestly have no idea how to fix it. 


  1. curious, who is the one person that loves their job?-- jackie :)

  2. I love you so much for writing this and thinking this way. Seriously. I cannot tell you how much time I and a close friend devote to thinking and talking about this very subject. I could not agree with you more on every point you just made.

    Some days I just want to run away and start a self-sufficient commune where everyone can be happy and can contribute and live a meaningful and fulfilling existence among loved ones. Why does that sound so far-fetched to people? It's how culture used to be, and I think it's terrible that it's not that way anymore.


  3. This post was very inspiring. I agree with you wholeheartedly. My husband and I both work to support ourselves and our child, and sometimes the days just fly by. We both work ten-hour shifts, and by the time I get home, I'm exhausted and barely have time to cook dinner and shower. It's awful. I wish there was a way for me to just quit my job and stay home with our child, but I can't. We could not survive off a single income. I, too, wish our society could be more family and community-oriented. There are so many things I hope for but feel will never happen. Our society is spiraling downward in to this dark abyss. Our society has become one full of people who only care about material possessions and appearances instead of who people are inside. It's a sad, sad world. :(