Chomsky on wage slavery

Watching this video, I couldn’t help but think of a major crossroads in my own life. I was 16 years old, and due to nepotism (my Dad was a doctor), working in the local hospital as a clerk for the summer, after my junior year, for $1 per hour to help pay for college. My task: to retype a thick nurses’ manual. I was put in a room by myself, with a large typewriter on a table and a big round clock on the wall. Every morning I would buy a pack of gum at the downstairs gift shop and ceremoniously reward myself with one half stick for each interminable 60 minute period of watching the minute hand crawl around the same way I’d been fixated on that same crawl in classrooms all those years.

Every day I’d also go downstairs to the basement for ten-minute coffee breaks and 30-minute lunch breaks, where I’d sit with other hospital workers and listen to them complain about their jobs, and how they were going to spend their weekends and summer vacation and, on Fridays, “TGIF!”.

In order to work off my rage over having been confined and frustrated and forced to focus on a meaningless task all day long I’d refuse rides home from my mother, and instead walk those three miles alone. Thank the gods and goddesses for that bit of wisdom lodged deep inside my being that prompted me to walk, rather than ride. It got my body going again. It got my juices flowing again. By the time I arrived home I no longer felt murderous.

In fact, that three month sojourn made me realize that in order to balance mental and emotional stress, I needed to exercise the body, and thus began a lifelong dedication to what I call “physical culture” as integral to my life, indeed, as the most important daily priority. For what good am I to the world unless I, myself, am feeling good?

Meanwhile, on those long walks home, in pondering what I was going through for eight hours five days a week, I asked myself the question, “Is this what adults do?” If so, it terrified me. I vowed, then and there, not to ever become an adult, if it meant submitting to wage slavery.

I am now 68 years old, and I have, never again, done “work” that demeaned me, body, mind, and soul. In order to avoid that fate, I learned to look at my life through a transformed lens. Rather than “work for a living,” I had to discover my own nature, and how it needed, in this life, to fully unfold and express. And in seeking that path, I needed to make everything else secondary, including my “lifestyle.”

My passion, for many decades, was that of a student of metaphysics, spirituality and astrology. I also consulted as an astrologer when necessary in exchange for the small amount of money I needed to live. My place of residence was a 20-foot-diameter yurt, and besides food and wood for the winter and gas for my car, and good walking shoes, I didn’t need much. I combed through second hand stores for clothes. I traded many services, including all luxuries, like jewelry, restaurant meals, hair cuts. Rather than use doctors (and be saddled with medical insurance payments), I kept myself in balance through physical culture and the medicinal properties of food and herbs. And when I traveled, I did it as a consultant in astrology, to write off the trip on my taxes. In short, by asking myself, who am I, what is my original expression, and how can I be of use to the world, I avoided the usual trap of submitting to a boss as a wage slave to labor that was without meaning to me “for a living.” Instead, I enjoyed, and still do, full aliveness.

Yet, even now, it’s difficult to talk to most people about my way of life, since they still “work for a living,” and thus wear that cultural set of blinkers that directs them to funnel the infinitely vast, mysterious and multidimensional universe through a rigid, narrowly defined 3D slit. So sad!

So you can imagine how much I enjoyed this Chomsky video! As he says: “These things that were considered obvious a couple hundred years ago, still are. Thanks to

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1 Response to Chomsky on wage slavery

  1. So beautiful, Ann. Thank you so much for sharing your inspirational story!! Your blog continues to educate and inspire me on a daily basis…many thanks to you always!!

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