Collective Consciousness – Emerson

The old fable covers a doctrine ever new and sublime; that there is One Man,–present to all particular men only partially, or through one faculty; and that you must take the whole society to find the whole man. Man is not a farmer, or a professor, or an engineer, but he is all. Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and soldier. In the divided or social state, these functions are parceled out to individuals, each of whom aims to do his stint of the joint work, whilst each other performs his. The fable implies, that the individual, to possess himself, must sometimes return from his own labor to embrace all the other laborers. But unfortunately, this original unit, this fountain of power, has been so distributed to multitudes, has been so minutely subdivided and peddled out, that it is spilled into drops, and cannot be gathered. The state of society is one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and strut about so many walking monsters,–a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in The American Scholar

How can man be satisfied with his day’s work when he cannot complete even one whole part to a working puzzle? The over-efficiency that plagues our world right now deprives man of the ability to connect to the finished product, to the consumer using the product, to his audience, to the reader. To those who feel they are made for something more, that there must be more to life than this work, they are right.

I was recently talking to a man who grew up in West Virginia, in the mountains. In the evenings, his neighbors would get together with their various instruments, voices, dancing shoes, and together would have a nightly convening of their talents. They would work together to make beautiful music, but also a community with a sense of wholeness, a rich environment for children, a sense of continuity for the elderly, and a place all could call home. I asked whether he joins in these festivities when he visits home. He told me that since the popularization of air conditioning and the internet, these get-togethers no longer take place. At all. What a heart-wrenching tale of the breakup of a community, a separation of a whole into individual parts, unable to sense the collective heartbeat any longer.

Good news – we’re humans. We need this connection. Sooner or later, we will tire of this trend toward isolation. Personally I’m rooting for a breakdown of all technology  that leads us back to an barter-based agricultural economy. But that’s the lazy way. The right way requires hard work, advocacy, and good parenting at the community level. I’ll work on mine, you work on yours. 🙂

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A New Chapter

I am now licensed to practice therapeutic massage in Ohio. I have turned down three jobs in two weeks, and I have two interviews this week. I could never have foreseen such a complete overhaul in my life. The progression of events has solidified my faith in God and the idea that nothing will fall into place until it’s the right time. Thanks to my previous employer, I’ve had a month and a half of paid time to look for new jobs in a completely different industry. After four long years, God handed this one to me on a platter.

Corporate America beat me down. Though I have the appropriate degree and management experience, I had been pegged at a certain level, with a certain monetary limit to what I was worth, and it wasn’t generous. I applied for jobs for years. Nothing. I tried playing the game. Nothing I mean what does a resume really say about a person? It certainly doesn’t convey innovation, intuition, loyalty in the truest sense, or other such intangible qualities. And it is these qualities I possess in abundant amounts. So screw THEM. A month and a half into my unemployment, my confidence has soared. At 18, the world was at my fingertips. At 22, I felt I had the skills to take on the business world. At 24 I felt I had nothing to offer, and at 26 I realize I have everything, but rarely will others appreciate my finer qualities. I am naturally a confident person, but I also internalize my surroundings. I understand why it is so important to surround yourself with supportive people. Working on MY goals with MY time has allowed me to reach a new state of mind. And the other day, I went to the thrift store and bought new pants… in my size. No more fitting into a job that is too small for me. I’m wearing big girl pants.

So many of us do a so-so job for so-so pay to afford a so-so life. But I’m so-so done with the so-called American Dream with the house and the constant state of one-upsmanship and resentment of others’ good fortune. At this stage in my life, Beatles songs seem to be seeping into my daily positive self-talk: “all you need is love.” “Just let it be, sis.” “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” The last one usually pops up at the grocery store, but that’s another story.

My husband and I have been happier in the past month, with half our pay and no benefits, than we ever were in a manufactured stable “successful” life.

New Territory

For over four years, I’ve felt my job doesn’t do any harm, but doesn’t do any good. I tend to feel more and more jobs are being created like that in this society of efficiency and isolation of tasks. And often during this time, I’ve wished I could just have more time to myself, to pursue my own interests, alternative ventures.

Two weeks ago, I was laid off. I got my wish! Though the first day was a shock, and it didn’t really sink in until the third day or so, I am grateful for this opportunity to seek other ventures.

As a dutiful child born in the 80s, I of course feel pangs of guilt at the idea of not contributing to my society or household for the past two weeks. I did not grow up in a one-income household, and can’t fathom the workings. Having meals ready and taking the dog for walks doesn’t feel like quite enough responsibility. But a wise friend told me the key to dealing with this is to wake up early every morning and do something productive, to work on the things I’ve always wanted to. She asked me what they were, and I replied, “writing, getting in shape, hula hooping, taking the dog to the park, getting rid of my yarn stash…”

My work is cut out for me. I have busted out about 5 tricks with the hoop, I can feel my body shrinking just a little, I have more energy and I don’t feel my life force being drained from me and injected into corporation. My dog is happier, and I’ve made a few washcloths with the mass of yarn I’ve bought and not used.

I began looking for jobs and got a nibble or two. But going back to that begins to stress me out almost more than being jobless. I am meant for something. And it is not a desk job. When I had a job I couldn’t see an end. My situation seemed more comfortable than alternatives – safer, more consistent, stable. Without those things, I feel happier. I feel I can breathe.

Here, I will begin to explore making do on less, being in harmony with my situation at any given point, and living richer and fuller than I ever have. I am in love with my husband of 6 years, our dog is healthy as are we, and we have family and friends all around us. I like myself and I am proud of the person I am. I needed to be shaken up to truly appreciate this. I am grateful for this opportunity.