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Archive for November, 2008

I Want To Be Mrs. Ogg

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

I’m tired. And not just because I had Apocalyptic dreams all night. I’m tired because modern living is exhausting me.

We were not meant to live like this. We started in small tribes. Our main concern was the same as it is today. Survival. However, a hundred plus thousand years ago, survival meant getting enough food and shelter. That was it. We killed animals, we picked fruit, we argued with our relatives. When we got too old to kill things, we hung out around the camp, taking care of the children and telling the younger generations that they were doing everything wrong. The younger ones rolled their eyes, fed us and cared for us until we died. And that was it.

Ogg and Mrs. Ogg didn’t have to buy insurance for an exorbitant price only to find out when their hut got wiped out, the policy didn’t cover hut repair. Nor did the hut get red-tagged. After a fire, if he mistakenly took down the last wall of his hut, he could still rebuild, he didn’t have to worry about new zoning laws. Or eminent domain.

Ogg didn’t have to worry about sacrificing his entire wealth to buy a house, either. When huts didn’t work out, he and his wife just wandered around with the rest of the tribe until they found a suitable cave. And they didn’t have to pay property taxes on the cave, furnish it with granite countertops, a Jacuzzi and the latest high def TV and surround sound.

Ogg didn’t worry about 401K plans, about the stock market tanking. He didn’t work 80 hours a week so that his boss could buy himself a private island in the Pacific. He didn’t have to worry about registering his car, insuring it and making sure to get a smog check by a certain date. Ogg didn’t have to worry about filing his income tax forms or umbrella policies, lawsuits or jury duty.

Mrs. Ogg didn’t take care of the kids by shuttling them manically between Chinese language lessons, soccer practice and Scout meetings. She didn’t worry about trans fatty acids or if her kids would go to an Ivy League school. The only thing she worried about was feeding them and keeping them safe from large animals.

Mrs. Ogg also had a whole tribe helping her take care of her kids. Children in tribes were never alone. Because Mr. and Mrs. Ogg never had to work late at the office to afford the McMansion, the Beemer and the timeshare at the lake. Ogg and his wife and their friends and parents were all together all the time. They didn’t need cell phones, Facebook and text messages to keep in touch. They were all close enough to actually talk to face-to-face.

I don’t wonder why we’re all so unhappy. We are meant to live simple lives in tribes. We are meant to work in groups with everyone’s focus on the overall, rather than the individual—not in a corporation where Ogg the Boss is making 600 times more than Worker Ogg. We were meant to watch each other’s backs and help each other.

People are so disconnected from one another today, if we see someone get attacked in a city street, more often than not, we don’t come to the person’s aid. We walk by derelicts in the gutter and avert our eyes. He isn’t any relation to me. I don’t know him. Yet, he is our neighbor. We’re all neighbors. If you haven’t noticed, we’re the only planet around for freakin’ miles and miles.

Yet, today, it is rare that we even know our neighbors. We live apart, plugged into iPods, iPhones, Bluetooth headsets, Gameboys and laptops. We don’t say hi when we meet on the street. Pubs are dying, cities are spreading out. Suburban and city living promotes isolation. We’re all so alone, we think others don’t like us. We’re afraid of others. We huddle in small, narrow groups, afraid of the differences in the other groups.

None of this makes any sense. We all have the exact same goals. We all want the same things. To be loved and respected for who we are and what we do, to have purpose and to be validated for the energy we put out. We want good sex, good food, a nice warm place to sleep and some laughs. That’s it. Humans are simple creatures. So how did our world become this unwieldy matrix of laws and rules and conditions and requirements?

Because somewhere along the way, the Oggs did so well, their tribe got really big. Which put someone in the position of managing the group. Which led to an agrarian society. Once we transitioned to an agrarian society, the Oggs in charge quickly realized that they didn’t have to toil in the soil any longer, they could sit in the shade and “manage” the others. Since they weren’t actually doing anything, they became disconnected from their underlings. The money coming in was so good, they began keeping more and more for themselves. Then they hung out with other managers and got even further disconnected. They became their own little tribe within a tribe with a new pecking order. Which prompted the Manager Oggs to cut the fieldworkers benefits and increase their hours to get even more money to impress their managerial friends.

And that’s where we are today. Still. After umpteen thousand years. You’d think we’d have all caught on a bit sooner.

I’m sick of it. Yet, the only solutions I can come up with are self-employment and spending more time with my friends. I’m still stuck with the taxes, building codes and smog checks. I’m also stuck sharing this wonderful planet with a bunch of power-hungry, greedy banker Oggs who just took ALL our money for themselves and left us with nothing. And with all those military Oggs who want to bomb everyone and everything to “make us safer”.

Which makes me sorely tempted to leave modern society and go cave-hunting. Well, with some differences from Ogg’s cave. I mean, I need my computer. So I’ll need a landline to the cave or a satellite dish outside. Caves are kinda drafty by nature, so I’ll have to build an enclosure inside with insulation. Might as well plumb it. And a fridge and a stove would come in handy. Maybe I can find a cave within walking distance of a city. Close enough for pizza delivery would be good, but not essential.

If you pass a woman on the street wearing animal skins carrying a pizza and heading out of town, please wave and say hi. Maybe join me if we get along. Don’t be afraid. I’m just like you.

©2008, Janet Periat

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