Archive for the ‘wealth’ tag
As I walked through a morning market in Luang Prabang, I saw this older man who was intently staring at nothing in the outer world. All that was left was either a focused concentration on the inner world or else a “vacancy” due to the hazards of living a hard life. From my observations, I would guess the latter. We don’t all have the grace of consciousness as we age. Wisdom and old age do go together, but the gift of wisdom isn’t given to all, likely even most humans.
Wandering through the villages and the countryside I see so much poverty that it breaks the heart. Though I am not even close to being a wealthy man in western world terms, rather I am a simple middle-class person who has earned a small pension after decades of working in education, I see that I am grotesquely wealthy in comparison.
Thankfully I don’t care to own much and find that I have too much stuff as it is so I am comfortable enough and feel almost rich regardless of what my peers and community define as rich. I live simply and don’t spend all the pension money I get when at home in Canada and so I am able to put away funds for trips that will feed my hunger for knowledge, for understanding. I want to learn so that one day I will have enough to say to put into a book that will be my memorial, a gift to whoever would find the book and read it. What I am doing now is my apprenticeship.
The view from the “hilltop” sees the Saskatchewan prairie stretch away for distances it is hard to imagine can actually be seen in all directions. As my son-in-law commented when we stopped here, being present in this scene of vastness reduces one’s sense of being to one of microscopic proportions. It forces one to be humble.
Today is Canada Day here in the country I call home. I am not very nationalistic and don’t loudly proclaim the superiority of my country over others. I realise that this is a vast land with few people who are wealthy in terms that most of the world cannot even dream of achieving. Yet, for all of the space, the wealth and the privilege that comes with real freedoms; many are unsatisfied, even depressed. There is a sense of being victims to some power that is not allowing them even more wealth, more freedoms, more, more, more.
Having been to many places where poverty is the norm, I have learned that I am blessed with freedoms, wealth, opportunity and country. One doesn’t have to be rich to have wealth. Wealth is more about a state of mind than a state of one’s bankbook or economic portfolio of investments (I don’t have one). My wealth is family, an education that is still in progress, freedom of movement, a home, adequate food, friends, and a willingness to venture outside of the small pond called home to experience others in other ponds.
It’s an ego thing. We build and we build and we build. This is the same for most humans whether we are building at a personal level or on a collective level. We build things in hopes of making our mark on the world and more importantly, in order to create a sense of important presence in the eyes of those who would then “see” us as being important. We need the affirmation of others in order to feel of worth.
I watch here in the Yucatan while wealthy foreigners build monstrous villas, their winter homes, beside the modest little casas and casitas of the Mexicans who are their neigbours. And these buildings which proclaim a sense of privilege and wealth to all sit for the most part, empty as their owners are busy with life in their home countries. For those few moments that they do find themselves here, they bring others to witness their superiority, their worthiness, their value. Yet, it is all to no end. For time has a way of leveling. Death will take the owners and nature will assert its right to be.
When I look at this image, I also sense that the tree is an inner self that refuses to be contained by the articial walls that we build to project our sense of self, an insecure self that will beg others for positive affirmation. Try as hard as one wants, cracks will appear in the facade, our insecurities will slip out as unconscious contents so that we aren’t even aware of the cracks. In the end, we wonder, “What the hell happened?”