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A Life Lived Richly

The great and terrible secret of our culture–indeed, of the world–is that our financial and social rewards are directly proportional to the percentage of our lives that we “hand over”. Long before we are able to conceive of the future, we are asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. Long before we are able to understand why or how we’ll get there, we are asked, “where do you want to go to college?”. And at some seemingly-random point, we are asked “what are you going to do?”

What am I going to do? I’m going to be alive; to dream and explore and experience as much as possible. Is that not good enough? Is that not a life lived richly?

Richly, yes. But surely without riches–for such things come only from a dedication to the world of Work, a wholehearted acceptance of market culture, a willingness to sell oneself for the promise of eventual (promised) freedom. Those who ascend the corporate ladder are those who have best shaped themselves to the demands and needs of the market, who have positioned themselves as being valuable to others. Above all else, abstraction and specialization are rewarded–the more specific one’s work becomes, and the more abstraction (education, disconnection) required to get to that level, the more these men and women become indispensable– if only for their assumed “expertise”.

If one is unable or unwilling to dedicate oneself so totally, to give up their time and their minds for the benefit of a corporate hierarchy, they’re left with few ways to make ends meet: after all, in the end, sweat is low-class. Being close to the earth, to machinery, to physicality, is the mark of a lesser being no matter the freedoms one enjoys. Despite these labors being the very crux of our civilization, despite them being the most critical aspect of any sort of production (the production itself), they are considered expendable, fit only for dumb machines. Hard labor indicates that one is not “a success”.

For as we all know, the world’s decisions are formed by the sedentary, clustered in dim boardrooms, their glasses masking destroyed vision, wearing identical suits, “power nooses” around their necks. They have the world’s resources at their disposal, but life’s resources, it seems, have evaded them entirely: the sensuous and subtle, the simple joys that are our birthright–these are not quantifiable. They are not marketable.

In the end, our system rewards sacrifice, and one would expect that those whose physical sacrifice is so great would be the first to benefit: as unfair as it is, this is not enough. Perhaps this is why doing what one loves is so important: all we can hope for is to provide true value, giving all we can give in order to serve the greater good (rather than corporate interest), and to be justly rewarded, as the world deems appropriate. That, to me, seems a life lived richly.

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