A Fair Exchange


Making a tomato and basil and blood sandwich for my lunch at work tomorrow (the blood courtesy of an extremely sharp slicing knife) I’m sort of wondering at our ability to get by on less and less, materially speaking, as we get older. And by older, I mean past our late forties.

Certainly, as I stand on the limen of my mid-fiftieth-year , I seem to have a real need for a drastically reduced amount of Stuff.

Cosmetics are not the essentials they once were – I can face the outside world happily without the barrier of makeup, the reassurance of henna, or the enveloping cloud of scent – as how I appear to others is scarcely important any more. Just as long as I have an inkling of who is in here.

Uppers and downers, stimulants and tranqs…all but vanished from my body and my life by now. A good cup of coffee and some tobacco – while it might make me a druggie in some folks’ eyes – is a pale skeleton compared to my former chemical dependence. 

Food is always prepared at home – many vegetables now coming from the garden – so take-away meals haven’t featured for years in this household.

Cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing; while it is not a South African norm for the middle-class woman to do these things herself, it is long ago and far away since I have employed a domestic servant of any kind.

The cars are not fancy and the house is not big, but they are our own. We truly need very little and want for nothing.

Yet the day-to-day costs of living were starting to bite; we had begun to watch what we were spending, this last month or two. On my salary, this should not really be a reality for two humans and two dogs.

So it was with a well-timed sigh that I opened my salary advice this morning to find that I had been given an increase. And characteristically for the people I now work with, not a word was said before or after the fact. Strange folk, in this money-centred culture.

But it suits me just fine. I have work I find satisfying and often fun – and they see fit to pay me money for it.

A fair exchange, which I leave to run itself as much as possible.


Pic: Found at the Mnemosyne Foundation

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