Market Economy vs Use Economy

July 7, 2008 at 10:38 am Leave a comment

This morning I was having a difficult time coming up with my topic for the day. Should I post a positive, upbeat report on my mom’s recipe pinto beans that I cooked up yesterday? The beans are great, but I’m not in much of a cheerleader mood this morning.

Should I continue the parenting theme by reporting on the Kid’s behavior at the birthday party of one of his friends? In the abstract I thought I had done well at equipping him with the practical, mental, and emotional tools he would need to get through what looked to be a difficult experience. In practice, his behavior broke down and in the retrospective light of morning I can see that I did not behave very well either. I was disappointed and angry. Partly with him and his behavior but partly because what I conceived as “my brilliant plan” fell so flat. But I didn’t really want to write about that either.

What really seems to be on my mind this early morning is a work meeting that is scheduled for this afternoon from 2-3:30pm. And the way I’m dreading it as if it were an appointment with a firing squad because it falls right in the middle of nap time. It seems I’ve gotten myself so set into my flexible, summer schedule that the idea of doing anything much — and certainly anything as inherently boring as a sit-down meeting — in mid-afternoon seems not only stupid in the extreme. It seems downright cruel.

And it strikes me that the conflict here is deeper than just a cranky, middle-aged woman who doesn’t want to miss her nap. It’s really one of the places where the use economy and the market economy collide. Something I think we’ll be seeing with increasing frequency in the years to come.

As I make changes in my life to try to live more sustainably on the planet, I’ve noticed that I’m venturing further and further into the use economy. I rarely spend money casually or thoughtlessly. And I just plain spend a lot less than I have in the past. Every project seems to rely more on me — in terms of thought, muscle or both — and less on buying my way to a solution at the local big box store. The new ways I’m incorporating into my life take time, but they are also often pleasant and meditative activities. And the schedule that accomodates them certainly leaves a space for an afternoon nap. In fact, the schedule that mandates early morning work and late evening suppers sort of depends on the ability to catch up on sleep in the hot middle of the day. It’s a schedule based on the weather and the work at hand. A schedule in accord with the world, the human capacity, with life.

Today, that schedule is smacking up against a world that is run by an arbitrary schedule without regard to the weather or human competence. We’re meeting mid-afternoon because that is when everyone who needs to be there could spare the time. We’ll discuss some details of a project that won’t be manifest for a year or two, take notes, leave. And I’ll figure out how to make it work because that market economy life is still largely financing this use economy life — especially the parts where I rocket across the eastern U.S. under power of fossil fuel.

But I don’t have to like it and I don’t.


Entry filed under: Comparisons, Piedmont.

Long Distance Parenting Walking the Dog

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