winter has come early to victoria. we’ve had almost constant rain or drizzle these last few weeks with a few days of glorious autumn to break it up. unusual for so early in the season. still, if i hadn’t been so busy with so many things i would love to get away for a few days to the gulf islands. maybe portland island or montegue harbour.
the storms are no longer being deflected north as the california high has all but collapsed, and we are getting pounded. last night it slammed into us somewhere around midnight and didn’t let up all night. it would go calm for a bit and then start howling again, jamming the boat hard against the dock.
after a few hours of this the building surf made it into the harbour and the rolling began. this usually happens much later in the year. i was in the fart sack for longer than normal – probably 10 hours, but the sleep was crappy, hence the title. tracy and i have been snapping at each other all morning and she finally fled with the dog. already this AM i’ve filled the water tanks, cleaned up the cockpit, packaged up a sail that’ i’ve sold to a chap in winnipeg (!), tore apart the tap set for the head (the hot water tap HOWLS when hot water goes through it. i’m talking about a deafening piercing screech), and had a look at the propane system as the pressure is too low (i suspect regulator. i’ve already replaced it once. bugger only lasted two years!). i need to waterproof the canvas enclosure as rain is soaking through, i need to cover up the bikes, bring in the fishing rods, mount my native paddle back on the v-berth door, overhaul my motor, replace or fix the genoa, and probably a hundred other things as well, but feeling a little fed up with it all.
i wouldn’t mind getting the hell out of here as well but i have to hang around and wait for the grocery order to be delivered. we haven’t bought groceries in a month and we are about down to eating shoeleather.
i enjoy reading stories like this, but two things:
1. why is this so newsworthy? jesus, living lightly is what should be mainstream rather than an oddity.
2. well and fine for him but he’s maybe taking it a little too far. once we devolve into hunter-gatherer mode, along comes a very nasty and brutal existence. people love to romanticise it, but hunter-gatherer societies are extremely violent and homicide is a common way to die.
we have gone too far in terms of pursuing comfort, but this is too far in the other direction. i believe in living simply, but scrounging food is not tenable, nore will you get many followers. my belief is that we can live lightly and in modest comfort. the poles are useful to show us the median, i guess.
i wonder why it is that men seem so much more willing to live lightly than women. i have much more faith that in general women’s approaches to things can create a much more harmonious and functional society. and yet wehn it comes to living alternative lifestyles, it’s always the dudes doing it, and almost always alone.
tracy is unique on this dock, and yet she is only here because i am.
even dudes in relationships and families often tell me that they would rather live a life without being tied down and having all the crap, so the energy for the house and all the junk that fills it seems to come most often from their mates.
women traditionally are the social defenders of society, but this is one place where the nesting instinct is terribly detrimental to the planet.
Poverty, Belief and Modern-Day Peasants
Throughout my own life I had known lack. It was my earliest childhood experience andit became part of how I saw the world. Dangerous, withholding, and disasterwaiting just around the corner. I also grew up fairly poor but I’ve since come to realisethat the real poverty I knew wasn’t in our housing or food, but the emotionalsituation of my home. My parents themselves grew up in emotional poverty andwere unequipped to convey a sense of trust, hope and abundance.
This is very important in that we know that a child’s basic outlook onlife is conferred at a very young age. A child who is deeply loved and is shownthat love will fare much better in life than a child who experiences emotionaldistance or neglect, regardless of the material circumstances they are raisedin. Wealthy neglected kids are much worse off on a variety of fronts than poor,nurtured kids.
For a long time struggles for economic equality has been at theforefront of a variety of emancipation movements, and I think they have gottenit wrong.
It’s not to be wondered at, when leftists ideas gained politicalcredence, people were starving to death and the majority of human beings wereliving almost as slaves. The lack was so obvious and bitter no wonder theoristssaw economics as the cure for disempowerment.
As well, economics are easy to measure; you know when women are makingonly 70% of men for the same job and it’s very easy to see the injustice isthat. The problem is when we think that removing that inequality will make forhappier people.
There is no doubt that the poor can be tremendously unhappy. I’ve livedin poor neighbourhoods and I’ve seen the misery. But I’ve also seen a lot ofvery self-destructive people. I’ve seen a lot of hate and violence andignorance. Living among the “poor” is not bad because of a lack of materialresources and the evident poverty, but the energy of rage mixed with despair Iso often found in those communities.
Sometimes very bad luck happens to people and they fall down. Onceyou’re down it can be verydifficult to pick yourself up again. Often we need help. Yet the majority ofpeople like myself who find themselves on various forms of social assistancesoon find other means and move on. But some stay there forever. Many more barelymove away from that (more likely pushed out by regressive and inhumanegovernment policies) and find workthat is hardly better, in terms of the living that these jobs afford.
Unless you are 18 and just starting out, why should this be? If you areliving on a First Nations reserve in northern Manitoba, the answer is obvious,but if you live in any urban centre, the options are limitless. Why wouldadults agree to exchange their lives for a paltry 9 bucks an hour?
The right wing loves to blame the poor (or any other marginalisedgroup) for their suffering. At the same time, the left blames systemic economicinequalities and prejudices. In most cases they are both right, but theessential shame and blame of the right is not helpful at all, as it is shameand shattered self-esteem and violence and oppression that these people oftenexperienced as children that so often makes them so ill-equipped to function ina world that only values and rewards Winners. What these people need iscompassion and help rather than blaming.
The left needs to think beyond ideas of simple systemic, economicoppression and realise the power of individuals to respond beyond theircircumstances. I have a number offriends who believe very passionately that the system grotesquely favours thewealthy and powerful (it does), and gleefully point out the latest figures andresearch that show this and the negative impacts on marginalised people.
The problem is that many of these problems are not problems of wealthdistribution, but of a great many individuals suffering emotional and spiritualdifficulties. If these people’s internal lives were filled with lesssuffering, you wouldn’t see themon the welfare roles. Nobody wants to be poor; people end up impoverishedbecause they simply cannot, for a variety of reasons, function at the levelthat society expects
Of course study after study has shown that when you support theeconomically marginalised with robust social programs, their functioningimproves and even more important, their child-rearing does as well, and thenasty cycle of imprinting the new generation with the despair of the old can beat least partially ameliorated. But that’s ultimately about improving thespiritual well-being of others as much as providing more in terms of materialresources. It remains a sad fact that helping people in this regard has alsobecome commodified and is just one more product in the marketplace. Spiritualhealing takes money.
A friend of mine oncetried to run a support group for families that had their children apprehendedby the government. Very quickly the effort proved impossible, although she hadbeen running various support groups for years and was very experienced. Thepeople who had lost their children to the state were so emotionallydysfunctional that even then most basic of boundaries and mutual respect wereconstantly being disregarded. At one point there was even a threat of violenceand the program was shut down.
The point of this anecdote is not to suggest that economicallymarginalised people are “bad” (all the individuals in that group wereimpoverished), but that such people have experiences that have damaged theirability to function in a healthy way. They have been cruelly harmed, aschildren and as adults. Since the poor usually live among the poor, their largerenvironment is always unsafe: violence fuelled by drugs and gang activity sooften surround them. No wonder by the time the government intervenes they arepretty messed up. I’ve worked as a child and youth counsellor and as atherapist to various such families and in every time I was struck how despairand suffering was their lot. They didn’t choose this path for themselves, theywere merely surviving according to what little they knew in a world thatpreferred not to notice their suffering.
It is the fear of such realities – and most of us have seen it, atleast from a distance – that keeps everyone else running with the herd, with aterrified look over their shoulder.
But people need to understand that poverty is most often the face ofchildhood abuse and malfunctioning genes, of deep and profound emotional andspiritual limitations. It is debilitating mental illness when governmentprograms are lacking. It is old age when government pensions are inadequate andthere are no other resources.
It is not the experience of the person who is reasonably well adjustedand who is aware of the vast opportunities that exist out there, and whounderstand that lack is a state of mind.