“Be a task big or small, do it well or not at all.” This is a saying that my grandmother repeated to me often throughout my childhood. My work ethic and commitment to “following through” were reinforced early on as I took this saying to heart. I seized every opportunity to turn situations into tests, imaging myself as a young Zorro, trained by Senior Zorro, Shaft, and Macgyver. With my youthful imagination, I would face an obstacle and think about what these three mentors would do if it were an obstacle on a mission of theirs. Using this motivation, I would find solutions to the problems I encountered. Little did I know, that way of dealing with adversity was teaching me to turn obstacles into tests I could learn from versus burdens that brought me down. Because of the success rate of this technique, I began to think idealistically that all obstacles were problems awaiting solutions. I started believing everyone was making choices based on finding solutions to their problems. I was young and naive; I was not taking into account greed, luxuries, or convenience as greater motivators than problem solving.
The next thought in that series of thoughts as a naive young man was that the institutions of food and agriculture, medicine, transportation, education, etc, were created to make my life better. As I’ve grown older I’ve had to question that ideal often. After questioning and looking deeper, I’ve been perplexed. The majority of institutions I grew up believing in and idealizing do not care much about us outside of our money. Upon realizing this, I felt like a kid discovering that Santa isn't real; shocked. I think I might have even been hurt. I concluded that most of the time, if one is not included in a company’s publicity or profit, one does not fit well within the scheme of support; i.e food companies everywhere can justify spending millions on advertising, and research to make products more addictive, while the people who are advertised to struggle to eat a good meal or find stability. What happens when you realize you don’t have enough money to partake in simple things- the things that simple living might imply, such as farming and eating nutritious home cooked meals? You realize you are separated from life and its fundamentals. How many of you, like myself, have lived or know people who’ve lived in a place where they are separated from these fundamentals? In the places where that healthy meal is unaffordable so people have to settle for Mcdonalds, Family Dollar Store, or go without eating, people suffer. Trials and hurdles were great lessons for me on my journey, but many people have not been as fortunate, and allow their hardships to weigh on them and bring them down.
I want to count my blessings, while highlighting varying adversities we all face; the institutions we created to help us and make life better have their own agendas. Most agendas have been designed around funding, and to be on the agenda, we need funds. Now we need funds in order to break even with the grind of the everyday and living life itself. This is an interesting phenomenon because there was a point where it didn't cost anything but hard work to live. Now you need hard work plus something else; funds. It is impossible to settle on land somewhere in this country to grow one’s own crops and live a self-sustained lifestyle without the need for money. Funds are required to set up that type of lifestyle. In order to get those funds, we need to work, and in order to work, we need livelihood essentials that require funds to obtain. It is hard to make progress when it is difficult to break even as a result of starting off behind. That said, it is important we focus on our Mental Health, Physical Fitness, and Spiritual Awareness or the effort we put into generating funds will create burdens for us in the places where we used to create solutions.