Ah, the good life. I want my children to have a good life. Living the life…and on the story goes.
When my mother first visited our small community farm, she was quick to show displeasure. “You are going backwards,” she said, “This all left when your grandmother died.” My grandmother had grown their food, baked bread in an outdoor oven and sold it for a meager income to keep the family together. She lived in Little Italy, surrounded by other immigrant families who had come to escape the poverty of Europe. They brought with them village life and as a child I thrived on the garden goodies, the fresh fruit from trees they planted and their camaraderie.
It took years before my Mother saw the wisdom of the community life I helped to create. Before she passed she was extolling a life where, “you know where your food comes from, you know where your water comes from and you are surrounded by people who love you.”
The good life? My mother’s initial distain for living off the land or being different in any way is not uncommon. It seems we have moved so far away from ourselves, the land and each other that simplicity is foolish. We have equated monetary wealth, accumulation of gadgets and a propensity for being buzzed – take your pick on the legal or non-legal escapes – as the good life. We have allowed fear of other to usurp community. We use religion as a battering ram. And civility in politics no longer exists.
The good life.
We struggle with the litmus of standards set for us. Post WWII ushered in dramatic changes, the least of which was the rise of agri-business, commercialized and processed foods, father knows best, don’t nurse your babies, and the calculated fear produced by the cold war, the rise of nuclear power and the industrial military complex. This “melting pot” was determined to “Americanize” the people who found their way here, a continuation of the attempt to purge the Native Americans of their “Indian-ness” and African Americans of their dignity.
The good life.
There is indeed a good life but it cannot be measured by the arbitrary and ever changing standards we have set. It can and needs to be felt. Every human being regardless of stature, wealth or education has the ability to feel it. My mother did. As she accepted her own, she was able to rejoice in mine.
Cut a path for the good life. Make it a good life. Rural, urban, nomadic or some yet undefined existence. Love yourself, make room for “others” and let gratitude guide you. Enjoy and rejuvenate the precious earth that holds you. Cut a path for a good life. It is waiting.