Thursday, January 1, 2009

So Evan's off to Europe

and Kegan as well (but ze's going to school as opposed to simply wandering) and the rest are scattered from one end of the country to the other it seems. But the remarkable thing about Evan's trip is how unlike so many who take off after graduation to backpack around Europe before coming home to settle down into their careers.

He's not doing that and it's not that he's lazy or irresponsible - in fact, he's very much the opposite of both of those. But he's just going to go, as a part of life's experience rather than some postcard to send back to everyone with "see what I'm doing now" written on the back. It seems in his mind that there isn't a reason to come back and settle in to some career that is more like handcuffs than a ladder. And I have to say that I am coming more and more to agree with it.

None of the kids working here was ever properly "normalized" (and I say that in admiration and with the utmost respect). They never learned how to sit in a job they hate, possibly dwelling out their years in a cubicle - they're idea of a good job differs greatly from what the world has been teaching.

I've been reading a new blog alot lately - How Many Miles from Babylon - the author chronicles his life free from commercialism/consumerism (Babylon) with both practical, how to type knowledge along with a nice blend of philosophy and humor. As he puts it, "This blog is for my thoughts on distancing oneself from Babylon, living one's life on some other basis than job and career and what it will purchase."

As the year has been coming to a close, as the economy seems to be as well - there's been plenty of reflection and discussion lately about "what's next?" - what do we want to do, where and how. I've always been one who said to find what you love to do and then figure out how to make money from it vs. killing yourself for a job that simply gives you a paycheck. But now I'm wondering about the need for finding a way to make it pay - do we even need money?

I know that sounds really strange to a person living in this century - but think about it. All this growth in the financial sector - what was it exactly? Was there any real benefit, or was it really just another elaborate Ponzi scheme? A bunch of people got paid a bunch of electronic blips in their bank account for pushing around a bunch of other electronic blips from other people. But where is it now? And did it really make a difference to most of us?

People still go to bed hungry, plenty of them have no bed in the first place. And many millions more have no access to a doctor when they get sick. We seem to have set up all these rules about how things work and who gets what - but it was all done on some basis for individuals to gain, but only when other people lost. Some Wall St wizard steals over $50 Billion from folks over more than a decade and no one notices - but we'll give the third degree, fingerprints and background checks to a mother trying to get some help to buy food because her husband lost one of his minimum wage jobs. And nearly half our country would scorn her as a lowlife, call her lazy and worthless and then pat themselves on the back while bragging over how self made folks they are and also how religious they are.

There was an exercise we did in class about everyone having input into designing a system - any decision could be made about how things work in the world - the only catch was that you didn't know where you would be in the system once it was finished.

There's a part of me that's been almost craving to go build a house for us into the side of a hill (from discarded tires, super insulated with solar panels and a windmill, of course) but it keeps seeming very selfish. So my thoughts turn more to ecovillages, intentional communities and our ability to forge something sustainable for a larger number of people at one time, rather than just one or two. I know I'm ready for a change - I'm tired of being tired, I'm bored and not challenged. A new livelihood - potentially without a paycheck maybe - but one focused more on impact and long term improvement for people certainly.

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