An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
of August 3, 2003
written in the woods not far from Natchez, Mississippi, USA


My dictionary's first definition of "poor" is, "Wanting in material riches or goods."

I wonder if the dictionary's editors meant to be as profound with their definition as it seems to me they were? For, in their choice of words they reflected this society's dominant consumerist paradigm by employing the term "wanting," when, in my mind, they should have written "needing... " A person is poor, I believe, when someone is "needing" of material riches or goods, not just "wanting" them...

I became especially sensitive to these opposing concepts of being poor this week while draining water into the bathtub prior to washing my Kentucky quilts for the first time in a long, long time. That morning as the water poured, I made my rounds seeing what new plants were blossoming or producing fruit, how high my Moonflower vine had grown in the night, whether new mushrooms had sprung up, how my anoles and fence lizards were doing, and I was feeling prosperous and fortunate beyond description.

Yet, I could probably qualify for welfare because my yearly income is so low. Despite my sense of affluence and despite my having much more than I really NEED, and certainly not WANTING more "material riches or goods," the world around me often classifies me as "poor." Moreover, many would be annoyed that on a weekday morning I myself was not in a car hurrying someplace to a paying job.

The crystalline, soul-pleasing water gushed from the ground joyously gurgling and splashing after long confinement in the aquifer. The sun sparkled in the water and I drank deeply and bathed in it, and watered my plants and compost heap with it. What enormous potential I envisioned for us -- me and this water -- and how many degrees of fulfillment I experienced at that moment!

Of course, drilling the well had been a major expense. However, if you figure the amount of service the well will provide during many years of operation, the cost will be seen to be almost negligible. To me, drilling a water well fits nicely with the Tao's "Middle Path" philosophy: It's not free, but it's hardly gross self- indulgence, either.

I wish I had a way to compost this culture's dominant motivating paradigm that assigns one to poverty simply if little money is at hand, and declares that one is wasting his or her time if not perpetually employed with earning a weekly salary. I should like to shred that paradigm and ceremoniously dump it into the straw and dried pig manure of history, then stand yodeling and lustily pee on it.

What pleasure it would be one morning to see it black and spongy, steamy in the morning air and smelling wholesome and well intentioned. If I could do that, I believe I should enrich the whole world many-fold, and happiness would emerge everywhere like well-formed mushrooms from perfect compost. Facebook Icon

Annual Blue Grass, POA ANNUA