THANKS FOR NOTHING MONTH January 21, 2012 7:00 AM
65 F indoors (burr) 21 F outdoors
Ice, ice, ice
TODAY’S HAPPINESS FACTOR: 8 out 10
Yesterday the ZANESVILLE TIMES RECORDER sent out a reporter, Holly Richards, and a photographer, Trevor Jones to talk about our THANKS FOR NOTHING month. Their visit was a time of re-hashing what I’ve been mulling around in my head these past few days.
I keep getting asked what this month really means to me, and how much money has been saved? Right now I’m working through, as much as possible with one third of the month to go, what I think. As for saving money, that’s never been my focus.
At this point I have finally accepted that I have not found any type of reward in making money – in fact I have said from the beginning of my adult years that I do what I do because it is valuable to me, and I would do these things if there was no money for me.
In fact some of my work has been unpaid because I did not want to be manipulated by people with money – I wanted the freedom to make the right decisions without finances being held over my head. Fortunately I had the luxury of Jay being my benefactor during those times so that I had the freedom to do what was needed. Not having debt gave us that autonomy.
But today I realize that all of the things I’ve cared about – social justice, relationship-building, creating community, re-using things, raising/rescuing animals, raising/rescuing children, saving things for tomorrow’s re-use and so much more – are what has made my life such a challenge, and such a joy.
Nans Thomassey (my French counter part in this month’s experiment) is right when he says that the focus on cash and money makes a barrier between people. I am grateful to him for saying it again and again until I could make that concept make sense to me.
When Jay and I met with the reporter I wanted to be able to talk about all of the things I’ve been thinking about, but in a way that she could “hear” me. I told Jay that I don’t want to sound like I’m fucking crazy. He said, “Well, then don’t talk.”
After some thought I decided that I would talk about taking a vacation from spending any kind of energy related to money or electricity or petrol. Most folks take a vacation from their work. I don’t need a vacation – I love my life. But my soul has always needed vacations from the world of finance, and this month has been just such a vacation.
During this month’s financial vacation I realize that whatever I do from this point on has to be more rooted in trading things, inviting people to share, and pushing myself to learn more about how to have a simpler life. The models of simplicity I need do not surround me in this culture. I’ve also decided that I want to take a trip to work on a project somewhere – some place where people struggle with the daily issues of having enough water and food.
Most of the important lessons I’ve learned in my adulthood have been from making myself really uncomfortable –spending time organizing women in prison, hanging out with Muslim women, writing tracts for prostitutes, living with immigrant women, and visiting people who live in poverty in other countries (where I did not speak the language). Every one of those experiences re-wrote something inside of me.
What is the next step? I’m not really sure yet, but for now I’m thinking of today’s gathering of friends. Each of them has had a part in some way in our THANKS FOR NOTHING month. They’ve lent support, brought food, offered levity. I’m going to savor our moments together as we celebrate the Chinese New Year.
A variety of Chinese food surrounded by decorations that were sent to us by our wonderful friend Ginger Swank when she taught in China