a sunday afternoon life

We are slow to rise. Our days don’t really begin until nine, with a ritual coffee lingered over as the morning sun washes in the windows. Yesterday about midday we went to the beach, and hiked to a green lagoon flashing with birds: from great pelicans to raucous gulls to tiny plovers. We climbed over the dunes that smell of crushed juniper and sage to the edge of the sea. At the sea you bathe in sensation without even stepping into the icy water itself: the roar of the waves on the shingle, the smell of the salt drying on the kelp, the bright dazzle of the sun; it all washes over you, lulls you, tells you nothing you will ever assume to achieve or think that you will learn is more important than this conjunction of elements, its harmonies, its balance, its beauty. We lay and rested in that totality; we will disappear and mean nothing one day, but for now we are, and the place is, and our reason for being is to enjoy it and honor it. That’s enough.

We drove a rambling way back, letting the enormous angry cars speed past, anxiety and fear flaming off their sides like rifle fire. We stopped to see things on the way: does anyone ever do that any more? We stopped to drink root beer and eat ice cream by the roaring highway; we enjoyed it: the smooth, cold and sweet foods telling us stories of when we were children.

At home we sat on the back steps as the sunlight lengthened; we drank wine and ate fat green olives and you played the guitar softly. We talked a little, sang a little; I thought how much I loved you. There isn’t a better day I could imagine having; there wouldn’t be a better way to live a life than as a string of Sunday afternoons. I wish that for everybody.

And it could be, if we realized that the scarcity we’ve labored under for 10,000 years is at an end. Three things we already know about would transform our days: cooperative and egalitarian social structures, the abolition of profit, and appropriate technology. When billions realize that they do not have to work themselves to death so that a few thousand can live the grotesque lives of the over-satiated, and that we actually have the tools and the systems that can keep everyone fed, clothed and sheltered, and give back to the earth what we take from it, then Sunday afternoon will spread the week long. We will work, but our work will be a joy, like climbing a sand dune or playing a guitar, whether we are growing food or sewing a shirt or building a boat.  Even if you want to do something unheard of, there will be room on the big abundant globe for you to find yourself and your home.

Why would choosing such a world be more incredible than the absurdity we accept every day? Why would a life of harmony with nature that could endure indefinitely be less “realistic” than a life of devising ever-more complex machinery to imitate the lives we are destroying? Why are things that glow from within less valuable to us than things that glitter on the surface?

There are two mysteries: there is the mystery of our consciousness, and there is the mystery of everything that is not our consciousness. Just these two little areas to probe, and when we have done so successfully, then we can be proud of ourselves!

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