Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Good Life

I am reading The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. I had read it in my early teens, but didn't really fully appreciate it. Now having given birth myself, my awe of O-lan's quiet, monumental strength and dutiful industriousness is more profound, and being a parent, the poignancy of Wang Lung feeding the baby girl from his own starving mouth cuts deeper. And the thoughts that grow around the old man scolding because of the lavishness of tea leaves in the hot water are more persistent.

We all know how insanely spoiled most of us are here in the snug abundance of Canada, and we have so much, that we are able to appreciate less and less all the time. In my Grandfather's youth a cup of cold water on a hot day would have been a luxury, meanwhile I've been known to complain when the Prosecco isn't chilled to just the right temperature. I don't want to grow too jaded to really feel the joy in all of the small luxuries and conveniences that we take for granted, and I don't want my children to be so far removed from simple pleasures that their lives are spent in restless dissatisfaction as they wait for something really big, really expensive or really special to enjoy.

Today I am tackling the mountain of uninspiring household tasks, left undone after the luxury of a leisure filled X-mas holiday. I don't want to...but I think of O-lan stopping to make food for the men in the middle of labour and returning to work a few hours after the child is born, and I am shamed into activity. And I think of the old grandfather and the tea leaves, and I stop for a moment to appreciate the warmth of the sunny spot that I've chosen to fold my laundry in (although it's -37C with the wind chill outside), and to write this.

PS Don't you just love the cover art on this edition? Something about the colours that is really grabbing me (although they don't show up as nicely on the computer as IRL). May have to do some Good Earth inspired art journaling...


  1. Sometimes it scares me how lucky I was to be born when I was, where I was, and to the parents. So luck of the draw, and I feel that I am squandering the precious gift I have been given. Yet that is just too heavy to carry around every day, all the time, especially when all I want to do is play Sims and eat cookies. It is good though for the reminders to help shake off the lethargy of of boredom or discontentment of not having everything.

  2. Yo--when you're broke and unemployed, it's all about the simple pleasures. Right down to the fact that it a luxury for me to even have chosen this lifestyle. Amen, sista'

  3. You said it, sistah Elizabeth! It is too heavy a burden to carry around every day. When I can at least feel like I'm appreciating what I have, it lessens the guilt. But then again as affluence and choice grows, a whole new set of pitfalls and complications arise...and I think it was Mother Theresa who talked about the fact that poverty of spirit and loneliness, which are rampant in North America, are just as difficult in their own way as physical poverty and want.

    Either way living in the now and appreciating the little things are what I'm after. And yes, Ms. Rowe, the luxury of choice. Amen to that.

  4. The quote I was thinking of:

    Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think
    that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person
    who has nothing to eat.
    ~Mother Teresa


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