Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Balancing act

I need to get something off my chest and while I'm not sure where today's writing is going to lead me, here goes...

Oil & paint stick on paper - CB 2009

In a nutshell, I'm in an uncomfortable situation in which the lines around a skills-for-skills exchange have become trickily blurred. Perception and reality can, it seems, be relative and inconstant things; our understanding and standpoint on matters can be as different as we are individual. Also - this goes without saying - conversations 'remembered' and 'perceived' can be as confusing and committing as any written document. 

Communication - like every creative gesture - is an act of faith?


I've talked before about how dearly I'd like to live life based on a practice of exchange. The old adage is that there is plenty to go around for all on this lopsided planet of ours, and that the problem is not so much that there's a lack of resources, so much as that the distribution of these resources is completely out of kilter.

The thing is, living by exchange seems to be fraught with complications. Why is that when the potential exists for it to be beneficial to all involved? Have we moved so far from our roots in this matter? When an exchange works well, it's a rich and splendid thing; when it doesn't, it can lead to complex and unhappy misunderstandings. I realize that this is no more than our human nature expressing itself, but what essential ingredients could be grown then drawn upon in order to determine a more reliably positive outcome? These arrangements start out so full of promise. 

Is it just me or are there others of you out there who sometimes feel disheartened by the way so much of what we come into contact with during our day-to-day living has some or other monetary value or expectation attached to it? Sometimes, it seems that the more one wants to resist this, the more insistently money pushes its runny nose up against the window. It's not pretty.

There's plenty one can do without money - tramping, propogating plants, digging in the garden, being out on our glorious beaches, in the forests, amongst the sky and mountains, etc... Visions, ideas, dreams and companionship are mercifully, freely available to all. Wealth that matters has no real material component, anyhow; I just don't like the way our world focuses in so much on material things. I guess what I'm saying here has more the tone of a lament. 

I keep coming back to the same question. What would it be like to live instead with a different kind of currency in place - not dollars, but a balance of gifts for gifts, and of skills for skills; a detached (as in, non-ego prompted, non-ownership based) pooling together of ideas, materials, counsel, values, practical assistance & relational support, etc, etc... skimming the much we have from the much we have and passing it around? 

It seems to me that as a human race, we've become crazily hard-wired into wanting to own things, possess things and measure things according to their investment potential (what is that, anyway - investment potential?); that we ascribe excessive financial relevance to things, when in the end, none of this stuff is inherently meaningful, let alone conducive to healthy relationship or a sense of nurturing community. How often is this the thing that stresses and divides couples, families, work colleagues, communities, nations?   

I'm feeling frankly fed-up with all this - and infuriatingly, rebelliously caught up in it. I'm also mad at myself for the ways in which I, too, participate in these dynamics and - no matter whether consciously or unconsciously - uphold them. It's so clearly a system that doesn't work and while I'm not sure what the answer is, I do think these are concerns worth reflecting on.


  1. Uncomfortable subjects can raise uncomfortable silences. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

  2. Yes - it definitely appears fictitious practices are at play when I get explanations of what 'economics' entails - and I've debated, 'what exactly is land value' with real estate practitioners at exhaustion. It is an odd... odd... imaginary world out there once you focus the micro and macro scopes.

    You left a message once quoting 'generational shifts' - I always get stuck on this... the ways in which we run and balance the globe are being more and more understood by younger generations - and more and more are being disillusioned. The only way to shake out of this curse is to educate and evolve our ways of thinking. The ego is sometimes an impossible battle to break - but keep advocating your skepticism - it's better than the alternative of praying to a blind faith...

  3. Hi cc'd - I've been a bit slow getting back to you, but it's always great to hear from you; you have a unique way of 'joining the dots and seeing the connections' where the connections aren't typically, immediately apparent. You get me to turn things around, think again, consider things from a different angle. Thanks.

    What you say about it being 'an odd... odd... imaginary world out there once you focus the micro and macro scopes' is so true. More and more I come to think that the so-called 'real' world is in fact the illusion (and the great distraction) and that the dream world - i.e the bigger-by far world of the intangible & non-concrete - is in fact the real one.

    In the desert, the mirage is the magnet, the elusive place of mystery, allure and promise. And, when experienced as the opposite (or manifestation?) of illusion, it is the place of real sustenance and replenishment.

    Looking forward to your next post.