What do I know about poverty?


This is what peace and presence looks like… to me.

It all begun with this question.

“What do you know about poverty, Mary?”

You know how people in business sites and self-help sites (which should be one and the same) are always telling you that “people will be attracted to your flaws”?

Yeah, I don’t believe it either.

I mean, here I am exposing my flaws regularly on this here blog, and… where are all those people who are supposed to be attracted to me again?

This is probably my stuff talking. It definitely sounds like my stuff.

The whole “people will be attracted to your flaws” feels true.
It may not “seem” true, according to my stuff. But it feels true.

After all, why did I even listen to Havi, back in 2010? That’s right. Because she was open about the fact that she had been poor. And homeless.
I could relate to her, and so I could take in her wisdom.

If she had been all “check me out, I make 6 figures!” I would not have listened.

Perhaps there is someone out there, poor like me, who feels she is too broken and too hopeless… Too “beyond anything resembling a normal life”.
And perhaps my words could be a source of comfort and reassurance.
A gentle reminder of “it is possible to do this work, even if you feel completely broken”.
I would like that.

“What do you know about poverty, Mary?”

I’ve been working with my stuff about being poor for a long time now. Which is why I’m in a place where I can write about it.
I asked myself this question this morning.
And I… did not react well.

I got angry. I hated everybody. I blamed the world.
And then I had a meltdown and I cried a lot.

“What do you know about poverty, Mary?”

It sucks.
It is soul crushing.
It is debilitating.
Dreams crumble, hope shatters, heart hardens.

And you can grow very, very bitter.
And angry.

At least that’s one of the paths.
I keep choosing the other.

Poverty, in all its sucky, soul-crushing, debilitating, dream crumbling, hope shattering, heart hardening, embittering and enraging glory can change you in other ways.

It can make you soft. Humble. Compassionate.
It can help you tune into appreciating the tiny and beautiful.
It can give you a very clear sense of what matters… and what doesn’t.
Most things don’t matter. By far.

How does poverty deliver all this?
Through the magic of “Terrible Things Provide the Biggest Learning Lessons”.

Would I have chosen poverty or depression willingly?
Not in a chinchillion* light years.

*a “chinchillion light year” is a light year in chinchilla time. That’s a lot of years.

Sometimes you ask the Universe… “I want to be happy and wise”.
And the Universe… delivers.
Granted, it comes in the form of a f*cking tragedy. Or two. Or three. At the same time. (“W00t?!? Why do I have to be poor, depressed, and having survived 3 abusive relationships?! Are you f*cking kidding me, Universe?!?!”)

But it’s a well known fact that humans have a hard time becoming wise and happy through, say, holidaying in the Maldives.

If that were the case, the young sprogs of the super wealthy would be the happiest and wisest amongst us. They aren’t.

“What do you know about poverty, Mary?”

It is the ultimate taboo.
Forget s3x, forget death.
Poverty is the ultimate taboo.

People can, and do, talk lively with their co-workers about their s3x life. Or about health problems.
Nobody ever says “I am struggling, I make so little money, I can’t heat the house, or feed myself properly”.
Nobody ever says “I’ve been homeless”.

Being poor means suffering in silence, and putting on a brave face.
I am *excellent* at putting on a brave face.

Why do you think we need “food banks”?
It’s not because people have no sources of support.
It’s because of the shame around poverty. And the taboo thing.

People would rather starve than confess to their friends and family that they need help.
And people would rather be disconnected from their friends and family than face the truth that, hey, their loved one needs help. They have fallen on “hard times”.
They are *gasp* human.

Asking for help is hard.
Giving help is hard too.
Both trigger all our vulnerability “stuff”.

“What else do you know about poverty, Mary?”

I don’t like cliches… unless they are true.
And is is true that those with the most help the least. And those with the least, help the most.

Beware the white, middle class, “liberal hearted” person.
They have the money, the contacts, the resources.
And they will help you out when the temperature drops below freezing point in the deepest circles of Hell.

Which reminds me: don’t get me started on charities.

May I never grow so… “hard”, so unable to make myself vulnerable, that helping out someone who is struggling seems so unthinkable as to not even register in my consciousness.

May I never grow so… afraid that I can no longer see those who are struggling, even if they are sitting right next to me.

“What else do you know about poverty, Mary?”

I know the way out.
No, not the way out of poverty.
I am still poor. Very, very poor, in fact.

But I know the way out of the anxiety, the terror, the horror.
The bitterness and the heart break.

I know the way out of the ego-crushing effects of poverty.
I let my ego get crushed. Over and over again.

And slowly, I am becoming the person who says:
Yeah, poverty, riches. Whatever, dude, this is not what matters, at the end of the day.”

I want to be that person.
I believe the technical term is “badass”.

I want that kind of strength, that kind of freedom.
I’ll be able to write the truthiest truths, because only my devotion to Truth would guide me.
Not “will this make me popular?”. Not “will this make me money?”.
Not “will this not make my bum look fat”?

But rather. “Is this TRUTH?”.

Yeah. Bring it.

“What do you want, Mary?”

I want to live in a new world. A new story.

I know it’s possible. I catch glimpses of it, every now and then. Usually when I’m peaceful and present.

And I know it’s possible to thrive while living inside this new story. Charles Eisenstein is doing it, and I trust him.

To take action from this place of peace and presence. “What would bring more love into the world? And more Truth?”.

I want to be peaceful and present, so that whatever happens, I can say “thank you”, with a full heart. And mean it.

I want to live by the New Rules.

Thank you, poverty, for the gifts you are giving me.
Including those I can’t see yet.

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