Healthy Work in a Livable Wage Shortage

As one of the people who has chosen to build a life outside of the “rat race”, I wanted to share some of my perspective on the recent so-called “labor shortage” in America. I have never been on unemployment, but I fully support those who choose to stay on it over returning to or starting an unhealthy job. I also support those who chose to stay in a caretaker role over returning to or starting an unhealthy job. And I go further in stating that it should not be considered normal for anyone to have to spend all of their “free” time sleeping, resting, and attempting to recover from their work. It should not be considered normal for anyone to have to self-medicate with addictive substances or distractive media just to keep them going. Everyone should have the ability to do work they truly enjoy and maintain their health.

Image of a social media post written by Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) that says, "If people aren't returning to work, it's because: A) they're being paid poverty wages B) they want health care that won't bankrupt them C) they need child care D) they want you to treat them with dignity E) they want you to recognize their humanity F) all of the above".

Our Work Situation

Our homesteading, growing, building, cleaning, creating, and helping work is not labor to us. Because what we do daily is what we enjoy doing, and we do it when it feels right for us to do it. It may not be what you want to do, and that’s okay! I probably wouldn’t enjoy doing what you want to do in the way you want to do it either. But the point is that we should all have the freedom to devote our energies to pursuing our own passions in our own time. In the timeline that is healthy for our bodies. In the timeline that, when used properly, leads to useful and enjoyable works of art because it was done with fully devoted intention, purpose, meaning, and true will.

Image of social media post by Mark MacKillop (@mark_mackillop) that says, "The next time you see someone enjoying something, that isn't hurting anyone, that's not your cup of tea instead of saying something negative train yourself to think to yourself "I'm glad they are happy" and carry on with your life."

A “Revolutionary” Idea

It is possible for us all to work together as a healthy community. A healthy community that ensures that everyone has free access to the basic needs for survival (i.e., proper shelter, clean water, clean food, proper healthcare, and reliable communication). Then, we would all have our freedom to pursue our own passions. We’d all be our healthiest selves. Healthy enough to put real action into bettering this world together.

Image of a Twitter post by Emelyne Museaux (@plsleaveamsg) that says, ""Nobody wants to work anymore." Nobody ever wanted to work at all. We wanted to be productive, be creative, be part of a community, be supported, be validated, and have the time and space to truly rest. No one actually wants to trade in hours of their life to "earn" necessities."

Changing How We Rate Work

We all have creativity. We all have our own talents and are instinctively good at doing certain things. Everyone has the potential to be a creative genius at making/discovering/inventing/bettering something. As long as we stop rating what is genius by how “profitable” it is. Or by how exploitable it is. Even if your creation touches/betters the life of only one person, and even if that one person is yourself, it is a great achievement. Have you ever experienced how much more satisfied you are with your outcome when you wanted to do the work?

Picture of Cristophe comfortably sitting at a table full of various sized glass jars containing multiple kinds of dried herbs, as he writes down calculations to make herbal tinctures for a close friend in need.
Cristophe at-home in his work making herbal tinctures for a close friend in need.

Just think. How many great achievements have already been lost to the world? How many are currently being lost? So many lives wasted under corporate exploitation. So many people worked to exhaustion and illness just trying to survive. All of those hidden or destroyed talents. So much lose potential to the world. Our story needs to change.

The Trauma Lie

We’ve all been sold the lie that suffering is the best motivator. Think about how much media portrays a certain character only doing something great after they’ve been through trauma. Trauma does not make you stronger than you would have been at that point in your life without it. That’s like saying you will have no lasting damage, and actually be healthier than you ever were, immediately after your body survives a terrible illness. Because that’s what trauma is. It is an illness. It wounds us. Trauma causes the need for recovery.

Trauma always leaves some sort of damage. Otherwise, it would not be called trauma. Yes, you can heal from it and eventually get back to a stronger you that may even surpass where you were before your suffering. But it wasn’t that trauma that got you there. The trauma only kept you from that growth longer, while stealing years of your time, energy, and health. If that trauma had never happened to you to begin with, you would have still continued to grow and improve yourself. Yes, you can learn lessons from trauma, but that is not the only way you can learn, nor is it the best way to learn. It is not something to be sought or prized. Because suffering is NOT a requirement to achieve greatness.

The Suffering Cycle

Suffering does not build character. Suffering breeds misery and illness. Yes, accept your trauma, learn and heal from it, be proud you were able to overcome it, and become the better person you were meant to become, but do not wish it for others. Do not force it to be an expectation of everyone else in order for them to grow too. Instead, teach them how to avoid the same kind of suffering in their own lives. Take pride in knowing you saved others from such pain. We are meant to learn from each other. It is how we all improve, grow, and evolve together as a community.

Decorative image from a Facebook post by The Witch Wench (@thewitchwench) bordered by grayscale botanical drawings of multiple plants and flowers with a quote from S.C. Lourie that says, "Some days I am Goddess. Some days I am wild child. And some days I am a mess. Most days I am a bit of all three. But everyday, I am here trying."

Something you can learn from discovering real history: People are able to do so much more when they are healthy, inspired, and positively empowered. The resulting creations are so much greater than what comes from people who are scared, bullied, or threatened. Attempting to motivate people to work by making it the only way for them and their loved ones to just barely live will continue to lead our world community to ruin. It will continue to breed more unstable people, more separation, more addiction, and more illness. That’s what such suffering and trauma really builds. People are better than this. We must break the cycle.

The Work Ahead

Trauma is the norm for many people now-a-days. Just another sad addition to the causes of the dropping average life expectancy for US citizens (which began well before the Covid-19 pandemic). And most people aren’t even aware of it. They also don’t realize that trauma can be slow-burning. It can seem to be something small and insignificant that slowly wears you down on the inside. To become aware of it is the first step. Then there are we who are actively recovering, healing, getting back to growing, and changing things for the better. Working to break the suffering cycle that others are unable to free themselves from. Working to save future generations from the same despair. Let us continue to work together. Be blessed my friends.

Winter picture of the slightly snow covered remains of a stone wall structure being reclaimed by Nature with growing moss and vines. One of the stones in the wall has chalk writing on it that reads "Wildlings" in all caps and is bordered by a thick chalk line around the edges of the arrow-point shaped stone.
Chalk message left on the ruins of an old home we came upon on one of our Nature Walks in Totnes, Devon, UK.

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