Let me start by sharing that my mother is the hardest working woman I know. She has always set the example for work ethic as she worked two jobs for the majority of my childhood. She often worked from 7am to 11pm in order to make ends meet and provide me with a future, which was one that enabled me to be a first generation American. I’ve regularly been questioning the state of the ideals of this great country into which I was born; this great place my mother worked so hard to come to and still works so hard to maintain her space.
I recently had a talk with my mom that humbled me, and made me stop to think to find the words to articulate something that has been difficult to accept as a young, imaginative, hard-working, and hopeful human being. The talk was about the fact that I am concerned for my mother’s health as she is steady working hard around the clock. She does this both to maintain what she has and to make small steps towards accomplishing some of her bigger goals; desires to travel and explore. A kind, patient, creative, and spiritual woman, my mother is looked to in her community for consistency, love, and wisdom. She has the kind of energy that brings calm to those with pain and anxiety, and peace to those in transition between life and death. Those traits have made my mother’s “worth” to her community very high; invaluable even. Her value, like all of us today, is based on social hierarchy in terms of credit and money in the bank. I know many of you are out there working hard to make ends meet by working odd jobs and multiple jobs to compensate for a growing Social Maintenance Responsibility List (SMRL). The current SMRL is so much more extensive now than it was when my mother was my age. Now we have to have internet access, a cell phone, and a varying amount of profiles on social media; Linkedin for work, Instagram to be considered normal, Facebook for communication, and Snapchat if you’re feeling dangerous. The amount of time that the average individual spends on their SMRL outweighs the time and work spent on mental health, physical fitness, and spiritual awareness. Although we talk about a progressive world, it’s important to acknowledge the differences between maintaining something and making progress. It seems the things we have considered progressive require that much more maintenance, while not progressing much more than ideals on image and value. Although time-consuming, we are maintaining the things on our SMRL, and when you add to that regular chores that have existed for ages such as feeding yourself, cleaning up, cutting the grass, and washing the car, it’s easy to see that we can spend a whole day, week, month just maintaining and doing chores. The thing that struck me recently is how much energy we expend on maintenance, and how little time is left to make any progress in the things we desire. It is convoluted that many of us feel unproductive after having spent a day maintaining and doing chores. Maintenance just helps use break even, and you have to be even if you plan to get ahead. It's unjust that someone with so much worth such as my mother can experience prolonged hardship when faced with her value. I often wonder if she would have had an easier time in a decade or two before now with less SMRLs around her; a time when the value and worth of a person were more straightforward, a time when being a good person as well as hard-working was rewarded with trust, monetary growth, and thereby progress. The current social sphere is destroying the concepts of value and worth. Now a woman of great worth has less value because the things we give money to have high values but aren’t worth much.
All that said, I imagine many of you are questioning your worth, while working hard to increase value, all the while having a harder and harder time maintaining your SMRL and keeping up with the maintenances of living. Postponing your dreams while you maintenance your life is considered progress today, but I’m not sure that's in line with the ideals of my mother and most Americans.