Some Words III

220px-Fox_study_6The fox continued.

I do have a lot to say to you, and I’m glad you’re making all of this public. I wanna talk to you about the nicest soup I ever had, and the Spooky Man and the Spooky Lady, and the end of the Age of Prophets, but right now let’s stick to some useful stuff. I want to talk about what I mean when I’m telling you about Sufficiency.

One of the worst things you’ve ever done to yourselves is to come up with this ridiculous “work ethic” concept. Somebody decided that hard work and industriousness are virtues, to such an extent that you’d better do it, or you’re failing at being a human. But look, for most people, work isn’t a virtue– it’s a requirement. You’ve got to work. It’s a default state. For most people, saying “work is a virtue” is like saying “breathing air is a virtue.” “Good job drinking that water, Timmy– you’re goin’ to Heaven!”

But the work ethic is a basic assumption. From one side there’s all this talk about “Workers of the World Unite,” from the other it’s “Work Hard and Get Rich.” There’s never any discussion about the fact that having to work to survive sucks. 

Isn’t it crazy? You’ve gotta eat, gotta have a roof over your head, gotta take care of yourself and your family, so if you’re lucky enough to have a job you work and work, regardless of whether you’re actually doing something you enjoy, and then you get a few years off to have fun right before you die. Isn’t that messed up? There’s no changing that, generally; it’s a “fact of life,” as they say.

Well, that is, except for a certain subset of people who don’t have to lift a damned finger. There’s a damnable set of people who don’t have to work a day in their lives, so they don’t bother. Why should they? You’re doing their work for them. That’s how it is here, where you live. So how can you stick it to them?

Here’s one way: you can learn to be sufficient.

(Yeah, yeah, they’ll say, “do what you love and it isn’t even work,” but the world doesn’t work that way. Not everybody’s in the position to do that. Not everybody can take time off to “pursue a passion.” Not everybody can take a break from feeding their families to write a novel. Not everybody can get out of the cubicle to audition for a play.  A lot of people have to dig through garbage dumps to eat. They cannot follow their passions.)

So how do you be sufficient? First of all, let’s talk about the word: sufficient means enough. What’s enough for you? You’re the only one who knows that. Do you have enough? Do you need more? How much of your free time is it gonna take to have enough for you? Maybe you like a little more than other people: maybe you’re okay with not having a TV, or maybe you like to play on a video game console? Maybe you like to eat good food, or maybe you’re okay with really simple meals? There’s no right or wrong answer; I’m not talking about whether it’s good or bad to have stuff. I’m just asking what it is that you’re after.

Next question: what’s the most you can benefit from doing the least? This seems like a dumb question, but it’s not, because of this idea of work as a virtue. Again: work is not a virtue. It is a default state. Suppose you’re thirsty. Suppose you like a little more water than quenches your thirst, say a glass full. Are you a better person if you blow the glass yourself, then travel to a glacier, chip off some snow, melt it into your hand-blown glass and drink it down?  No. This has no value on you as a person. It would be impressive, but strange. You can just go into the cabinet, grab a glass, turn on the faucet and take a drink. 

Sufficiency is like drinking tap water from a glass that’s already in your kitchen instead of glacier water from a hand-blown glass. You don’t have to shoot the Mendenhall just to yout your whistle.

Work is not a virtue. It’s a default state. Most people aren’t happy having to work. God wants you to be happy, and to have time to enjoy the good things around here. So, God wants you to think about sufficiency.

Now, let’s get a little more complicated. Let’s talk, again, about gardening, because it’s such an ayousome example. Lots of people want to garden. Not many people actually do it. Why? Because it seems really hard work. People think, gotta dig holes, rip up sod, keep plants alive, “I have a black thumb tee hee hee.” Thing is, it’s really not that hard when you consider the payoff. Yeah, you might have to dig up some grass, but then you won’t have to do any more exercise that day! Yeah, you’ll need to know a little bit about what grows where you are, and whether your dirt is any good, but you can ask somebody at a Nursery and they will tell you. Yeah, you have to pay attention to plants so they grow, but it’s like a buck fifty for a hundred seeds, so if a few die, who cares? Yeah, you have to water, but if you get the right plants for your climate (ask somebody), you don’t have to water that much.

Composting? Easy. Toss anything biodegradable into a bin with holes in it in your backyard. Every time you do, toss in some grass clippings or dry dirt. Turn it over now and again.

Poor soil? Easy. Plant in pots. Or, ask somebody and they will tell you what to mix in. Mix it in.  

Weeds? Hell, half of ’em you can eat! Eat the dandelions and shotweed and chickweed. Let the rest of the weeds grow unless they start to get too close to your veggies. Who cares what it looks like?

Bugs? Squish ’em. Or get some ladybugs and you won’t have to worry about ’em.

Eventually, it’ll get to the point where one day, you’ll wake up and go outside to your garden and say, holy crap, there is broccoli! Growing in my yard! And I don’t have to buy it!

Now, this is a sufficient gardening practice for a small household gardener who probably won’t be feeding the whole family from a backyard plot. If you wanna be totally “self”-sufficient, it does take a lot more. But that’s the beauty of this approach: you don’t have to. My lecture on gardening is an example of how the work you do, when you consider what is sufficient for you, is far less than the work you anticipate having to do. 

Let’s think about some of the work you have to do if you choose not to garden. You have to work at a job to pay for vegetables. You also have to pay for the gas it takes to get to the store or farmer’s market. You have to work to determine whether what you’re eating has pesticides on it, whether organic and GMO is a thing you need to be concerned about. Then, what about the global scope of buying vegetables at the market? Vegetables have to be grown somewhere else, shipped in. Gas has to be purchased to ship them. Power has to be used to run the market. Once you start thinking this way, you start to realize how much shopping at a grocery store can be like getting a glass of water from a glacier (and don’t even get me started on clothes dryers and electric razors). 

Of course, you’re talking about sufficiency. Maybe the cost of shopping for vegetables is better for you, which is totally fine. It’s just that when you think about things from the standpoint of sufficiency, you start to get a broad idea of what’s involved with everything, and start cutting through the extraneous work required. Hey, for instance, you’ve been talking about the value of your family, those people closest to you. What if you guys were to get together and start a garden together? Less work, more reward. If you’re no good at gardening, but really good at, say, babysitting, or cooking, or fixing things, maybe you can do these things for your family members, and they can do some gardening. It’s fun to think about these things, but it’s funner to do these things!

Fun trick: you can apply this way of thinking to pretty much all of the work you have to do in the world. For instance, if you have a job in an office someplace, what’s the most sufficient amount of work you can do, and how much of your time can you free up to make things better?   Here’s one for you: what about spiritual work? What’s the most sufficient way you can connect with your spiritual side? What works best, but takes the least?

Remember, I’m not talking about efficiency. Efficiency is a buzzword created by technocrats and marketing departments and self-proclaimed “experts” who’ve figured out a great way to keep their jobs perpetually. Efficiency most often ends in tragedy.  Efficiency is about getting rid of some people and making other people work harder, which is terrible. On a personal level, it’s about working harder now to free up time so you can work harder on something else. This is terrible. Don’t think of the most efficient way to do something– think of the most sufficient way to do it.

When you start thinking about things this way, you start to realize that you have a lot more time to do things that make you happy. I’m not talking about being lazy, not in the sense that you’re just not doing anything and so you’re draining away and making a big sucking noise; I’m talking about learning the smartest way to do things. 

These are the very basics of sufficiency, and I’d like to talk more about it later, but I wanted to at least go over it before I start telling you about some other things, too. So. Down with the work ethic! Make some time to enjoy things! This is what makes God happy!

Question from you: aren’t you saying that if it’s easiest for you to rob a bank or steal money from somebody, you should do that? Answer from me: are you trying to make me crazy? OBVIOUSLY I’m not saying that. Didn’t I already say that if you constantly need to be reminded to be nice and do things the right way, I’m not talking to you?

Question from you: Aren’t you the Devil? Answer from me: Stop all that, now. I’ve told you, if you wanna appreciate what I’m saying, you’ve got to forget everything else you know about religion.

Question from you: You keep saying you’re telling me about religion. What’s this got to do with religion? Answer from me: This is completely about religion! How could learning how to be happy, understanding what God is all about, learning how to help your family members– how could this be about anything else?

Okay, bye for now. More soon!

Some Words I
Some Words II
Some Words III
Some Words IV
Some Words V
Some Words VI
Some Words VII
Some Words VIII
Some Words IX
Some Words X
Some Words XI
Some Words XII
Some Words XIII
Some Words XIV
Some Words XV
Some Words XVI
Some Words Epilogue

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2 Comments

Filed under Essays, Gnostic Stuff, This Way

2 responses to “Some Words III

  1. Pingback: Some Words IV | This Way

  2. Pingback: Friends of the Fox | This Way

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