1) Mind Your Own Business.
In an era where privacy is virtually non-existent we have forgotten what it means to respect the personal. From the trainwreck lives of families like the Kardashians to the People of WalMart no one seems to be immune from the LOOK AT ME! impulse. For those who refrain from such toxic displays of maladjustment there are ten times the number who stop and stare, the people who buy People, the gossips and the doxers, those who settle down on the couch with the kids to stuff their pie-holes with super-sized bags of empty calories to watch the horror show that is reality TV as if it were entertainment when deep inside everyone knows they are just happy to not be them. It’s no different from the crowds that gathered for public hangings and no one makes you do it; it’s a choice. Cut it out. Keeping your eyes parked inside your head is not such a bad thing, especially since even the highest functioning among us still have their own problems to work on. Turn your curiosity inward, learn a new skill, spend time with a book or a child or a pet you’ve neglected, but for the love of God, or Darwin if that’s your thing, mind your own business.
2) Make Due With What You’ve Got.
You don’t need another electronic device, trust me. Blu Ray today is the Beta Max of tomorrow. We have enough yard sales on any given Saturday to fund a mission to Mars. There are more Self Storage container farms than farms. We are literally being buried beneath the weight of our own surpluses and yet we are never satisfied. We eat to the point of obesity and yet we are not filled. Never have so many done so little with so much. Debt, both public and private is at a level so high that it will never be paid off, ever. Default is the only way out and yet for 2 full hours on national television the entire left wing of the political establishment simply read off a list of things they were going to give away, from college educations to the posterity of the Founders in exchange for a vote. Our collective inner voice reads like the letter to Santa from Sally in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” …“I want what’s coming to me, I just want my fair share.” Let me clue you in, you’ve got enough. We all do. In fact most of us could use a visit from GoodWill and earn a tax credit in the process. The old way is coming to an end one way or another and those who learn to make due with what they’ve got will be well ahead of the curve.
3) Do It Yourself.
One of the greatest curses of living in the era of specialization is that human beings have lost the fundamental skill sets associated with self-sufficiency. The refrigerator is broken, call the refrigerator guy. The toilet won’t flush, call the plumber. My children need distraction, hire an au pair. The list is endless and most, if not all of our needs could be met if only we gave ourselves a chance to do what we are convinced we cannot. I can’t tell you how often I have heard people, when faced with something as simple as a flat tire say “I’m not handy” or “I’m not a tool guy”. Reality check: see those things at the end of your arms? The ones with the fingers and the thumbs? Those are called hands and trust me, they work just fine. And that other accessory up there underneath your blue hair and neck beard? That’s called a mind and it is a terrible thing to waste. I know things are complicated, but when was the last time you actually took the time to examine a broken dishwasher or leaky faucet and tried to wrap your head around the mechanical process. Why does it work and what makes it function? There is system to virtually everything and all of them were created by and made into being by other homo-sapiens… not that there’s anything wrong with that…You are no different than them with the possible exception of your totally unique skull tattoo, of course and with just a little bit of effort you can fix what’s broke. Or grow your own tomatoes. Or paint your own toenails, whatever floats your boat. And in the end you not only save yourself a couple of bucks, you’ve picked up a new skill and boosted you confidence level to new heights.
4) Get Healthy And Stay That Way.
On average Americans spend over seventy quadrillion dollars per year on medical insurance and Xanax. Or something close to that. The fact is that most of our current health issues stem from our own inability to maintain the flesh suits we were born with. Yes, I know, some people have problems that are genetic or so serious as to be insurmountable without real medical care, but they are a minority. Forget old age related health issues as well because as we all know by now, on a long enough timeline the survival rate is zero. I’m talking about the easy fixes that every man, woman and child ought to do for themselves daily. Eat what’s good for you, use your body, entertain your mind and keep it challenged. Walk, swim, play, get outside, go to bed at a decent hour, solve the problems that cause you stress instead of medicating the symptoms into submission. All of this is far easier than it seems but it requires the inner discipline to make the right choice. Everyone eats and no one ever says that’s hard to do. Ask them to eat foods that they know to be fresh and healthful and they’ll give you every excuse in the book — why? Because they’re lazy, not because those foods aren’t available. They’ll tell you eating well costs too much, but that’s a lie. Processed food costs a fortune in poor health, medical care and a shortened life. McDonald’s fare doesn’t fill you up with what your body needs, it clogs it up with with empty calories and chemical stabilizers leaving you starving for real nutrition. People say they have no time in the day to exercise yet the average American spends 5 hours a day in front of a High Def jumbotron watching people living equally empty lives. If you worked out 35 hours a week you could turn yourself into a human sculpture. If you spent only a fraction of those wasted hours doing something physical you’d begin to feel better almost immediately. It’s your body, your choice, as they say.
5) Own It.
Here’s the kicker; no matter what you think the world or the government or the 1% or your parents or the guy next door owes you, in the end it all comes down to you. There’s probably a French philosopher who’s articulated this better than I, but he’s dead and I’m not. So listen up, this is all on you. Every word, every action, every thought that issues from your mind, body or soul is your responsibility. You do the wrong thing, it may affect another, it may not, but it definitely stays with you. Like scar tissue, every infraction or cruel word, every minor violation of the code of conduct we call morality is a stain that spreads across your internal wall until at some point you are forced to face it all alone. No one gets away with anything, really. Those people you think have it all? Imagine what thoughts inhabit their darkest dreams. We live in the age of the victim, where none are to blame but others, where every injustice and misfortune is the fault of some shadowy conspiracy of patriarchs and privileges, where ones rights must be adjudicated or legislated into correction by governments and bureaucracies — staffed, ironically by privileged patriarchs. Bad news, it’s not going to happen. The world will always have its poor, its downtrodden, its pariahs and outcasts, but let’s be serious, you aren’t one of them. In fact most of those reading this today live better than the aristocracy of the last century so start enjoying the privileges and perks of your own time and realize just how lucky you are. Accept equally the social responsibility that goes with such fortune, apologize sincerely if you wrong someone, but try not to do whatever you did in the first place ever again. Watch your tone, be kind for no reason, help someone who needs help, share your new skills you’ve learned doing it yourself with your brand new healthy body you’ve been feeding and exercising and you’ll feel what real empowerment is all about. And if you do it the way your inner voice is telling you to, you’ll make the world just a little bit better today.
Printed with permission from: Hardscrabble Farmer
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