I am worth everything. And you are too. Though, out there, such a fundamental truth isn’t always easy to hold onto. . .
This is a blog post is about value; what we are predisposed to value within one another, and how that sense of value can limit us as human beings.
I’ve been back in Scotland for over two weeks. After an intrepid journey about happiness I am, at last, home. Yet it has been no easy thing to return after 18-months on a bicycle. Now I am back, I’d like to take all the very beautiful things I have learnt from my journey about living a happy life – the personal and societal – and apply them as fully as I am able.
But it is not that easy. There are obstacles.
What do we value?
I experienced an overwhelming sadness the other day. It was triggered through my deliberations as to whether I should buy the organic lentils or the less expensive non-organic ones. A fairly minor event, really, but contained within that little deliberation, and the sadness that seemed to flow from it, was the awareness that, at present, my full participation within society and my ability to take care of myself, is hampered by perceptions of value that have come to occupy not only our social spaces, but our psyche too.
“Our thoughts and responses are conditioned by the values which society, of which we are a part, has imposed upon us”
It was that awareness that inspired me to leave on my cycle journey to Bhutan. I knew there could be a different way. Though, admittedly, before I left, because I had managed to package myself in line with societal perceptions of value, I rarely had to deliberate too deeply over what food items to buy to best look after my body.
My worth in Edinburgh
I’ve been hobbling around Edinburgh the past couple of weeks. On the journey home, I think somewhere down in Lincolnshire, I got bitten by a horse-fly. The wound then got very severely infected and I’ve been needing medical attention every other day. That has made having neither an apartment nor a job to come back to more challenging than it would otherwise be.
I got followed around by a security guard at a food store the other day. That was crushing. It is difficult to find public spaces where one doesn’t have to continuously consume. Most things seem to have some sort of price tag attached to them. Though, I am hugely grateful for the National Health Service.
I am having the sort of experience that I used to only write about before – having life circumstances that can very easily leave a person feeling of little worth. Not because a person is inherently of little worth, but because self-worth can be heavily bound up with how much a person earns and what that then allows them to have. It is not easy for anyone to see beyond the earnings and the possessions, and into the real person behind them, sometimes.
People might ask what I do, and they will see what I have. I did cycle to Bhutan, and I only have what I can fit on a bicycle. Is that enough? I think so. I know so. Even before the journey, I was enough. Though it took the journey I made, stepping away from where I have now returned to, to fully recognise that.
Sharing unique gifts
I am grateful to have such a strong support network in Scotland. It has made things much less challenging these past weeks. Inside people’s homes I feel safe, seen, and valued. When there is effort to create deeper connections and intimacy with people it is often much easier to see beyond what is earnt and what is owned.
Sometimes, we may get to see people’s real gifts, the sort of things that are little explored because it is so difficult to get beyond the economic perceptions of value, and the resultant economic hardship that it can produce. It constrains who each of us can be. It blocks our full human potential – we are each much more than numbers.
I have come to learn, what with how busy people can be, that being fully present with another can often be enough in itself; and that, along with my capacity to use words to communicate deep and meaningful processes, is something I am trying to cultivate more fully in my life. Yet, of course, being adept at such things may not be enough. I’d need to find a way of marketing these gifts too, to earn a little crust, and that may just take away something from what it is I could really contribute to life.
“But first you must see the picture, see the world as it is, with its national divisions, with its cruelties, ambitions, hatreds, and controls. Then as you see it more clearly, you will find that right means of livelihood comes into being – you don’t have to seek it.”
***Thank you for reading. In case anyone feels to worry for my well-being based on this post, my leg wound is no longer critical and is healing well, and I am not experiencing economic hardship. I am fortunate. I am well supported. I have space. I struggle. I am human. My words are gift.