Poverty Is Not an Accident

Poverty Is Not an Accident
Nelson Mandela

Monday, May 24, 2004

How not to panic?

You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

I woke up worried. I wasn't even awake enough to know why.

Then, I remembered: oh, yes: scooter tire, no money, how am I going to get food? How am I going to sell a story?

I'm too tired, really, to tell this story & do it justice, but I'll give a thumb nail.

THat pole barn I lived in, up in Pekin Indiana, the KKK town: they sold it out from under me.

I had to move, fast.

THe Winnebego wasn't near ready enough; I was stripping out the interior to rebuild it into an empty box.

I'd go out at dawn, work all day in the hot, muggy sun. I had no money and was running out of food.

I had crap from the bible thumpers' "food" pantry: stale bread, canned vegetables, potted meat, etc.

I lived on so little food, I can't believe it now. Especially since I was doing HEAVY, HARD work!

I had no telephone to receive calls from potential landlords.

I needed to move back down near Louisville, about 40 miles south.

I would drive my pick up truck down, once a week, to TRY to find a place, without a phone.

I had two weeks to finish the camper, pack everything and move into a new place.

I would work in the heat 'til I couldn't anymore. THen, I'd come into the shade..remember: it was a pole barn; it was just as hot in there as it was outside, and no breeze. I'd pack stuff for awhile, as a "break" from the harder work.

At night, I'd lie down to sleep.

My mind would be running: how will I? how can I?.....

I knew I needed sleep and that worrying would mess me up.

So, I'd tell myself:

Rogi, you've done absolutely everything you can today. Your poor body is exhausted; it needs rest. There's nothing else you can do today. And you can worry while you work tomorrow, not now. Don't keep yourself awake. You need rest.

Somehow, that worked.

I got everything done. I found a place. Yes, it was just another slum lord, and that place, too, had serious problems.

But I got out of that KKK town without losing any possessions, without being hurt or killed by some red neck or by working recklessly.

I have used that method often since that time.

SO, this feeling of doom, as I awake, is not unfamiliar.

And it'll certainly get me out of bed quickly. I hit the floor, running.

No, it's not comfortable. It's not pleasant.

But it's just another emotional response to circumstance. Emotions are instincts; they exist for preservation of the organism. I can let them interfere, or I can harnass the adrenaline and other hormones and secretions and focus them on my goal.

Anger and fear are very powerful, if I can step out of myself just enough to recognize them and utilize them.

So, here I am, preparing to TRY to patch another innertube, take a shower, and get to the eggs and the station.

Of course, it'd be nice to lie in bed. It'd be nice to get drunk or high or eat up everything in the house or... whatever.

I chastize myself for being impulsive. But, compared to people I see around me, I'm one of the most self-disciplined, committed, focused people I know.

Years of rationing: food, money, strength, etc. will do that to you.

So, I'll get off my own back and get back to work.

I said I wanted out of poverty. Realistically, I don't KNOW if I'm strong enough, smart enough, lucky enough, etc. to do it. Really. I don't know.

There are more factors involved in overcoming poverty...especially THESE days, when it's institutionalized for the benefits of corporate leaches...than the myth of the Puritan Ethic.

Hard work does NOT guarantee success. In fact, hard work is looked on as freakish, weird, crazy, etc.

My resourcefulness, creativity and determination are looked on as a threat.

But I come from people who raised, butchered and cooked their own foods, made their own clothes and bed linens, constructed their own tools and furnishings, etc. We could take raw trees and build refuge.

It's what I know. It's my talent. It's my skill.

If I'm really lucky, it'll work.

No, I DON'T know if I can pull myself out of this trap. It's a TRAP, y'know???

But, if I DON'T try, it WILL destroy me.

If I have to gnaw my own leg off to get out, I will.

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