Spending time making a living

Wildflowers in a field

Writing my morning pages today, my thoughts were spinning on the familiar hamster wheel of keeping afloat financially.

I found myself writing the phrase “making a living” as I jotted down thoughts on how to do so. But then the peculiarity of the phrase struck me. Do we really “make a living”? What does it mean? Because the phrase is generally used in a financial sense, it seems to mean “making money”. Is having money the same as living? No.

And then I also found myself writing about how I spend my time. Again a financial reference. We “spend” money and we seem used to the idea that we also “spend” time.

These words seem very utilitarian, and if we are to live joyful lives, they can’t be utilitarian ones. This seems to be pointing me towards a shift in my thinking, towards joy, or to quote Joseph Campbell, to “following our bliss”.

I’m aware that people living in abject poverty no doubt feel both ground down and seriously pissed off when they hear about philosophies such as voluntary simplicity or if they happen to come across this Gospel verse:

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. (Matthew 6 28:29)

But for those of us living lives of relative privilege, don’t we have a duty to think outside the constraints of “making and spending” and turn towards joy in our lives? Make our lives in the truly creative sense of the word?

I believe that in our journeying through the last part of our years on this beautiful planet, living creative lives grounded in simplicity is the way to joy. What about you?

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14 thoughts on “Spending time making a living”

  1. Due to chronic illness, I have time to do things that make me happy even if my resources are limited. I read, sew while listening to music, care for the house (not obsessively!), and care for the family still at home – plus two cats. Caring long distance for family members and friends is important to me, too, even if it just means calling or writing frequently.

    I believe creativity of any kind is essential to finding joy in life. You must first find joy inside yourself and acting on ideas that add to the good in the world (even your own part of the world) is a positive step toward joy. Then, don’t forget to notice you’re happy, pleased, satisfied, or delighted.

    Something that has stayed with me since I read it years ago: “Anything worth doing is worth doing wrong the first time. If it matters to you, just keep trying!”

    Most of all, be good to yourself. You matter.

    Hugs!

  2. I agree wholeheartedly, Tess! It’s about making a life, rather than just making a living. And that helps clarify what’s really important and how much is enough, too.

      1. As I age, it seems like the portal to Mother Nature lies wide open and I hear the call of the wild so much more than the call of stuff (books aside). And there’s such abundance in nature, and it’s free. On my recent 69th birthday, to celebrate I hiked a long steep trail through a forest and up a local mountain by myself and it was like stepping deeper and deeper into a beautiful watercolor that I never knew existed. Does anyone else feel like a forest dweller at this time in your life?

        1. Susan, I recently came across a new/old word on Facebook: Werifesteria, from the old English, meaning “to wander longingly through the forest in search of mystery”. How perfect is that?

  3. This is a most intriguing comment, Tess — “Anything worth doing is worth doing wrong the first time. If it matters to you, just keep trying!”

    I am in the midst of a lost friendship, trying to regain the connection, that is, with affection and apologies, understanding, etc. But I’m getting nowhere. I don’t even know what I did wrong, exactly, but somehow I’ve lost it. It’s not even fair to the other person, I think, if I keep trying.

  4. I have thought so much in my life about these sorts of things, and some ways my perspective has changed over time pretty radically. I fully agree with “living creative lives grounded in simplicity,” but the epiphany I had when I was re-visioning my life last spring was that I had to define “simplicity” as an organizing principle that takes into account and *integrates* complexity. That principle for me is sustainability: I want what I do to be sustainable environmentally and socially, but also personally and financially. It all needs to be integrated and work together.

    To be honest, I’ve spent my entire adult life hovering around the poverty level (the definition of which in the West, of course, being quite different than what I would consider real poverty). I’ve done this more or less on purpose because I wanted time more than money – time to “follow my bliss,” time to be present in raising my kids. But now, I’m so friggin’ tired of working my butt off and barely scraping by. Making a lot of money sounds really good to me these days, creating abundance for myself, but also for others.
    Susan Carpenter Sims recently posted..Outing MyselfMy Profile

    1. Thanks for the comment Susan, and yes definitions of simplicity are not always… simple. It’s like being self-sufficient in a farming sense – a complexity of land, sewing and planting, crop rotation and lots of different tools.

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