I was talking to my grandfather today (who still does head stands and smokes at the age of 91) and he told me that he was glad that he was not my age in this day and age. I asked him why and he told me that it was because times seemed really hard for most decent people. It almost reminded him of the depression. “Everything is so expensive and everyone has to work all the time to afford to live in this society. Government does not care about the people anymore, politicians are greedy and the environment is saying enough is enough. This ain’t living it is more like a perpetual state of worry.” I could not disagree with him but I had to mention that yes for most these were very trying times (violence and disease rates are at an all time HIGH- the effects of stress) but lets not forget that the few, the very few- the rich are living like kings and queens as we speak. This is what is inherently wrong- there is a great imbalance between rich and poor and this imbalance eventually will tip the boat. My grandfather said “you said that right” and then proceeded to do a head stand with a cigarette in his mouth.
Thoreau said “that the cost of something is the amount of life that you are willing to exchange in order to have that thing.” The bigger the pond you swim in or the more advanced the technology is on your automobile or computer system- the less time that you have to live (free from work or worry). Those who are unfortunate enough to have mortgages or car payments that they can barely afford are the ones who are being robbed, literally of their life. Those who have more material possessions to up keep have less time to live. This is what many theorists refer to as the myth of capitalism. It is a trap.
I try to ride my bicycle whenever I can. This not only gives me much needed exercise, but I also feel as if I am waging my own strike against high gas prices and the epidemic dependency upon cars. Yesterday as I was riding my bike I was thinking why not sell my car, sell as many things as I can and live simply? I decided that it was more important to me to have time to live (to take naps at three p.m. or to play my guitar at a cafe around noon with not a care in the world) than to work. Am I trying to afford not only my social status but also the very things that have given me a sense of self or would I rather have less but gain time?
When one starts to identify themselves by the things that they own or the work that they do…some form of basic life is surrendered for work (the need to make money). As I rode my bike past all sorts struggling to get back to work after their lunch break, I thought of my grandfather standing on his head. I giggled and thought to myself- it does not need to be so difficult, just live simply, need less, learn to value what you have (for the long term) and ride a bike or walk when possible. If more people could do this the end result would be the solution to the social, psychological and environmental catastrophe we all now live within. My grandfather likes to call this catastrophe “the falling sky.”