Doing the Math

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” ~ John Lennon (Double Fantasy Album)

In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”
~ Leo Tolstoy

Old Wooden Abacus

Today I realized that I earn around $5 the hour: not the $20+ I think I do, but little humble $5, and probably much less…

Every day, I wake up at 5:30, feed the dog and cats, prepare breakfast and lunch for everyone in my family and leave at 7:30 am: take the bus, then the train and after almost eight hours at work, I take the train and the bus again. By the time I’m home is 7:30 (this time, pm): I spend 12 hours outside my home…

We all believe that we work for ourselves and our loved ones: that the hours outside our homes and far from those we care more about are worth the sacrifice because what we receive in return, help us to keep a roof over our children’s heads, bring food to the table and have a reasonable comfortable life. As we spend so much time at work, we try looking for jobs that are also comfortable, fulfilling and interesting. Some of us are lucky enough to find that type of job, most people in this world are not that lucky.

I like my job: I work in a friendly and respectful environment, I have caring coworkers and my work allows me to empower others so they too can have a decent job, start a business or find out what they want to be in life.

The question is: is this where I should be? Where my skills are better utilized? Where those who need me truly have me?

I’ve been many things in my life: from librarian to travel agent; from teacher to manager; from newspaper deliverer to housekeeper and many more…I’ve lived in houses without running water or electricity, in crowded cities and urban areas, in apartments and the suburbs.

It would be easy to say: I have landed, here I stay.

If I only believed in the story many of us are told: “study hard and behave well; find a partner to marry and have children; work hard and save for retirement when you may be able to (finally) enjoy life many possibilities”…but I don’t.

I’ve been reading “Down to Earth” by blogger and simple life advocate Rhonda Hetzel  during my long commutes and find a nostalgia for things I once knew and used to do: knitting, crocheting, sewing, baking, caring for a house…in the years after discovering Permaculture, I set out to re-skill myself in those and many other crafts: from cooking from scratch to preserving food and growing it, building simple houses and carpentry to learning more in depth about the reasons why these should have never stopped being our main “work” as human beings: caring for ourselves and those we love.

For years now I’ve been trying to live a double life: working as a career coach and adult facilitator on weekdays and trying and teaching Permaculture-like topics on vacations, days off and weekends. Eventually, Permaculture (and with it, me, my family, my dearest friends and the community) passes always to a second place: life revolves around work as it takes 90% of my time awake. Decisions, important projects, learning and teaching opportunities, experiments and necessary changes are all secondary to my work schedule and commitments.

Doing the Math

The climate is already changing and we are only shy of one degree Celsius. 40% of the topsoil has been lost to erosion. We have already lost 75% of all the biodiversity only in the last 100 years. In that period of time, we have passed from two to seven billion and growing. We went from growing and knowing our food to trusting labels and expiry dates for what’s edible; we are afraid or disgusted by normal germs and body parts and functions; we have no idea of how to repair basic things we “own” and much less know how they work; we can’t build a reliable shelter for ourselves or our children; we have lost the capacity to do what our ancestors have done for millennia…

We only have a shot at this life on Earth: it is up to each one of us if we want to continue providing fuel to a moribund but still terribly dysfunctional and hurting system or we want to be part of the possible “new world”: one of regeneration of the soils and ecosystems, one where humans live with compassion and responsibility for themselves and others.

To be a complete person, we must travel many paths, and to truly own anything we must first give it all away. This is not a riddle. Only those who share their multiple and varied skills, true friendships and a sense of community and a knowledge of the Earth know, they are safe wherever they go” ~ Bill Mollison (co-founder of Permaculture)


The good life is never stable, never secure, never easy and never ended. It is a series of steps or stages, one leading into the other and all, in their outcome, adding, not subtracting; augmenting, not diminishing; building, not destroying; creating, not annihilating.” ~ Scott and Helen Nearing (“The Good Life”)

Abacus inside old Chinese basket

One Comment on “Doing the Math

  1. Pingback: Doing the Math | Silvia Di Blasio – WORLD ORGANIC NEWS

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