The bill collector/it’s a Beautiful Day and The Dirty Life

 ” He had a theory that you had to start out by giving stuff away–preferably big stuff, worth, he figured, about a thousand dollars. At first, he said, people are discomfited by such a big gift. They try to make it up to you by giving you something in return. And then you give them something else and they give you something else and pretty soon nobody is keeping score. There is simply a flow of things from the place of excess to the place of need. It’s personal, and it’s satisfying and everyone feels good about it. This guy is nuts I thought. But what if he’s right?”

From THE DIRTY LIFE by KristIn Kimball

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in the mountains of northeastern New Mexico but it didn’t really start out that way.

A couple weeks ago, I had no choice but to sign up with a credit debt relief company. I researched the best companies, found one and made a call. After I signed up and agreed to a specified payment every month [ which will leave me with almost nothing], I was given a new number to give to the bill collectors and told by the ‘debt specialist’ that they would stop calling.

Which isn’t true at all it turns out…they call constantly and I have to keep my phone off the hook except when I need to make a phone call.

Yesterday I happened to answer the phone and it was one of them.

I explained the situation, as I have so many times.  That after 26 years,  Rites of Passage,the non profit which I founded in 1988 to take care of terminally ill people as well as provide education on death and dying had lost all its funding over a year ago, that I had tried to keep everything going since then but that now I had no income except social security.

“How much is that?” the bill collector woman said. I told her it was $1450 a month. “How much are you paying the debt relief company? “she asked. $900 a month I told her. “Well she said, We don’t work with those debt relief companies so you’ll have to work out a payment plan with us or otherwise we’ll get an attorney.”

“OK” I said “Try to put yourself in my place. Try to imagine starting an organization to help dying people and their families,  putting your whole heart and soul into it for 28 years and then overnight, your salary is taken away, you lose everything, all your savings trying to keep things going and then you’re left after the payment to the debt relief company with $550 a month which after paying for home and car insurance and the phone/internet, you’re left with maybe $200. Do you think YOU could make a payment with that amount of money, do you think YOU could even buy food?” I asked her.

“Well” she said in her cold, robotic voice, “We’re going to keep calling you until you make a payment and if you don’t, we’ll get an attorney.”

I hung up  on her and left.

los hueros rdIt was an especially beautiful day as I drove to Las Vegas [NM]. I was going to the Newmexicann medical marijuana dispensary…..New-MexiCann-Natural-Medicine 2 ….to buy a birthday present for a friend — they have a lot of unique gifts–beanies, beautifully beaded containers for lighters, pottery plus t-shirts etcno drug war t

These Newmexicann dispensaries always seem to me like little beacons of light. I’ve only been to the ones in Taos and Las Vegas NM but even though they may be in a strip center or next to a dark and deserted alley, they seem light and happy inside, with geraniums and aloe vera plants in the windows and great music playing.The people who work there seem happy too as if they really enjoy their jobs. I bought the gift I needed and drove on.

I drove on to a rather poor grocery store to get some cheese for the bean and cheese burritos we kind of live on here until our garden starts producing. There was a small, elderly, Hispanic man in front of me with his little cart of groceries. He noticed me  and turned around. ” It’s a beautiful day isn’t it? Just like summer.” “Yes it is.”  I said and I noticed that he called the checkout woman ‘My Dear’ “Thank you My Dear” and “Have a nice day My Dear.” How kind and thoughtful and what a change from the cold, inhumanity of the bill collector.

I came home, feeling so much better and grateful too, to live in a place of  such warmth caring and happiness…..so far from the city life.

THE DIRTY LIFE

“We went back to the farm that night fed and warm in all ways, carrying pieces of cake wrapped up in napkins. I was entirely unused to that sort of common kindness. I didn’t think communities like this we’re supposed to exist anymore, in a country isolated by technology, mobility and work. This was a place where neighbors took care of each other, where well being was a group project..”

From THE DIRTY LIFE by Kristen Kimball

 

dirty lifeA few weeks ago, my sister-in -law  posted something about a book she liked a lot on Facebook. The book was The Dirty Life and I saw that it was about organic farming. I don’t read much at all anymore but since we’re trying to do organic farming here on a very, very small scale,chard 2 I ordered the book [for 1 cent from Amazon..a positive revelation from having no money]

The Dirty Life is about a journalist from New York who goes to interview a rather eccentric but wonderful organic farmer. Over time, she falls in love with him, they get married and start their own farm together.

So I started reading this book at the end of the day which began with the phone call from the bill collector and I immediately felt such a connection to the story, to their way of doing things ; I got several practical ideas from the story but I was most especially inspired by the idea/philosophy put forth in this quote:

” He had a theory that you had to start out by giving stuff away–preferably big stuff, worth he figured, about a thousand dollars. At first, he said, people are discomfited by such a big gift. They try to make it up to you by giving you something in return. And then you give them something else and they give you something else and pretty soon nobody is keeping score. There is simply a flow of things from the place of excess to the place of need. It’s personal, and it’s satisfying and everyone feels good about it.”

From THE DIRTY LIFE by KristIn Kimball

I had tried to start a pay it forward movement a while ago but as yet it hasn’t been very successful and it has seemed to me that it really isn’t a pay it forward type of world. But this book inspired to keep on trying, to keep trying in every way.

This morning, Jody [also known as the Brown Piglet] told me he was going to help his friend Mike do some work at Mike’s girlfriend’s house. The day before Mike had helped Jody take a very large amount of trash to the dump for which Jody wanted to pay him. But Mike had said no. I help you and you help me he said..no money exchanged and actually this way of doing things has been the way of life out here for hundreds of years.ruth panoramic wagon

And so it is in this little mountain community in Northeastern New Mexico and it’s a beautiful day……

church los hueros

 

 

 

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