A friend and i were talking this morning about the importance (or un-importance) of using the gifts the universe gave us, for the greater good. On one hand, our happiness is our own, for us to achieve and hold. No one can provide us happiness, nor should we feel responsible for the happiness of others. On the other hand, we are part of a community, which has nurtured us and helped make us what we are. So what do we owe to that community as payback? Can we feel justified in holing up in our corners of the world, idly scribbling, yawning away the days in our own creative pursuits? Or conversely, can we feel justified in spreading ourselves thin, doing not quite enough for too many people, in the pursuit of effecting the most change possible?
One might say this friend of mine takes the first road -- that of harboring his own delight, and thus looking from the outside like he's doing nothing but allowing the world to spin by him. I, on the other hand, am more of the spread-thin variety -- working during the day, working again in my off-time, and all the while raising this revolutionary. I feel i must work at this day job, in order to provide the tangibles that society requires of a family in America. A warm home. Health care. Organic food. I justify the sacrificing of a mother's idle delights in trade for a child's comfort. And when i am done with the journalist's day job i do to provide the tangibles, i throw the Need to Change the World in. I try to spread the Good Work over the radio, because perpetual motion pushes me further than just Creating a Home.
My friend says he does not envy my position, but he knows that people like me do envy or resent people in his. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps we just want them to join us in doing more of the Good Work, even if they do not join us in the nine to five sort.
I ask myself what the nine to five provides that keeps me doing it, because in my heart of hearts i am the idle traveling bard too. The first thing that comes to mind is health care. I could delight in smelling the roses too, if i could provide sure-fire healthcare to my child.
But effecting societal change like creating universal health care does not come along by sitting in a basement, allowing dreams to trump reality. Likewise, the fire to fight is hard to light when you are burned out from a day full of office work. Yet all of us have to stand up and present ourselves. We have to show up to the rallies, or create them ourselves. If we are not the ones in charge yet, we have to show ourselves to those who are and say we do not accept things the way they are. Because of the wonders of the internet, some of this can indeed be done by sitting at a computer in your own corner of the world (i.e., this blog...), but still i tend to think the sound of stamping your feet in protest will not convey so well through your computer.
The man who allows himself to sit idly in his room all day has not been allowed such luxury by his own labor. Nor should the woman who works at her creative job all day pretend that she got to this esteeemed position by her own hand alone. Hundreds upon thousands of warriors before them did the Good Work and stood up, so that life would be better for the ones who came next. Now those gifts which have been bestowed (for better or worse) must be used for the next level of change.
The gifts bestowed upon me and my friend are greatly different, and can be used for different purposes in the battle. But it is important that our feet stamp in stride on the battlefield, thinking always of the next warrior, who will contemplate their motivation... and recognize they owe it to the ones who came before to move forward...