Greed has become a virtue. And it is literally killing us.
What if we stopped seeing exhaustion as a badge of honor and started looking at it as a symptom of capitalism instead? Living in a culture that always encourages us to covet more means dissatisfaction is rampant. Instead of enjoying and being grateful for what we already have, we squander the present hungering for a future of fame and riches.
As I was reminded upon getting back to my parents’ in Paris tonight, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for any of us. They have been dealing with stage 4 cancer since September 2018 and every time I go away for a few days, I come back to find my stepmom a little more diminished.
Tonight, she announced a friend of 50 years is on her death bed with only a few more hours, perhaps days, to live. Needless to say, the atmosphere around here is so heavy both Dad and I are redoubling efforts to lighten it in whichever goofy way we can.
A few minutes later, a news report reminded me I’ve lived below the poverty line — be it the American or the French one — for well over a year now. In the US, that means earning less than $12,490 per year as single person, in France it means having a net monthly income inferior to 1,026 euros.
And yet, my last day off happened in May; whether writing or editing, I’m never not working and my exhaustion levels are becoming dangerous.
Last spring, I chopped off a bit of my finger off with child-proof scissors and didn’t realize anything had happened until I saw blood everywhere. In the same period, I kept getting dizzy and almost passing out. When I’m in the Netherlands, I can no longer bike because my balance is already off when standing. Traditional Dutch bikes are heavy and riding one requires more strength than I’ve had for the longest time. Plainly put, I wobble a lot, can’t keep up the pace, and fall frequently; after my legs ended up covered in bruises in the summer, I had to stop.
As befits freelancing, sometimes I get paid, and sometimes I don’t. For some obscure reason I could never fathom, there’s no shortage of media outlets and clients expecting us to work for free. Years of international experience and a resume that includes well-known media organizations do not come into it.