Even if you’re not a Stones fan, you know the words
Yes, friends, this article is about Satisfaction. Much sought after, but rarely maintained for more than short periods, sometimes I wonder if human beings as a group know how to be satisfied.
I imagine that for the majority of those reading this, you were brought up in North America. North America as a culture, is infamous the world over for being decadent, lazy, and gripped by a tireless greed. Having grown up in the shadow of western media myself, I can’t say that this impression is entirely wrong.
I grew up in the late 1980s and 1990s, during this time the radical fem-nazi was at the peak of her power. It was no longer good enough to be a homemaker and a mother (if that’s what you wanted out of life), no, no! You were expected to spend a decade in post secondary school so that you could get out there into the world of high-powered careers and make your fore-mothers proud. Anything less was a disgrace to womanhood!
Obviously, this was not really a healthy environment for anyone to grow up in. Pushing children, female or not, into a life of robotic ‘you can sleep when you’re dead’ careerism, not only stunts growth as a well-rounded, emotionally and psychologically stable human being, but it teaches a hunger. It sparks that tireless greed that has become the epitome of earth-killing consumption.
Work, work, work, we are taught. You need more money. You need a better car. You need a bigger house. You need to work longer hours, get a raise. Climb, climb, climb.
Behind this media-driven campaign of advancement for the sake of advancement, a little voice that asks, “why?” struggles to be heard. Some of our own elders in the North American Pagan community worked themselves to burnout before they could hear the voice.
Focus on one aspect of the self to the exclusion of all others is never a good idea. We know this now. It’s pretty obvious these days that there is more to a human being than a bank balance and a red power suit. If you never take time off, then you will end up in a hospital – whether the kind with rubber walls or the kind with IVs and a pacemaker is a turn of the roulette wheel.
But back then the motto was, “No Pain, No Gain.” A lot of us raised under this umbrella lost the ability to know when enough was too much. It didn’t matter how much you were hurting or where the hurt was coming from. If you could get up and keep going, you did.
Even today, the propaganda machine is telling us, keep going, keep working, keep striving, satisfaction will come. Someday, when we retire, a switch will magically be turned and we will become those people on tv who are perfectly satisfied with their lives each and every day.
What they don’t tell us is that the majority of us will never see that always fair weathered Sunlife 65 sort of lifestyle. Many won’t be able to retire at all, and of those who can, many won’t know what to do with themselves without work.
When you’ve spent your entire life striving for a formless, indescribable concept of ‘more’, how do you know when you’ve got it? How can you even know if ‘more’ is what you really wanted to begin with?
I think that these are some of the questions that cause people to start looking to spirituality for answers. But stepping out of secular, mainstream life and into a world where ‘more’ changes from a carrot on a stick to a door to countless unimagined worlds all around you doesn’t magically flip a switch any more than retirement does.
People still need to learn how to be satisfied. Whether it’s income/career-wise, status, food, whathaveyou, it takes time and practise to learn how it feels to be full – to find contentment with what you have and where you are.
In the season of Black Friday and the hard sale push towards rampant consumerism, I think that it’s important for us all to keep in mind that feeling of full – of contentment. Before there were gifts, there were people coming together to share a meal and enjoy each other’s company.