Perpetual poverty motion machines

In recent weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time conscientiously seeking out the POVs of marginalized people, individuals and groups… really trying to hear and see beyond my self. Ruminating on and discussing concepts of privilege, awareness, gratitude, identity, security, luxury, poverty, subsistence, ambition, exclusion, supremacy, patriarchy, racism, sexism, feminism/womanism, genderism, and so many other various -isms. Contemplating the complexities and subtleties of “intersectionality”: how one can be gifted by fate in one way and simultaneously challenged throughout life in another way. I’ve been dipping into these topics for awhile, but I’ve been really diving deep lately. I have SO MUCH to learn!

I’ve been sharing those POVs as I find them, and offering my own reactions to these lived experiences, trying to grow out of my ignorance through dialogue, and then persuade others to journey beyond their own bubbles.

That said, few single pages I’ve read lately have cracked open my mind like this one: Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or Poverty Thoughts. The initial post is brief — won’t take more than 5-10 minutes of your time. It’s full of thinking that is simply alien to me, and I feel embarrassed for myself and my entitlement:

Nobody gives enough thought to depression. You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation. Ever. We know that the very act of being poor guarantees that we will never not be poor. It doesn’t give us much reason to improve ourselves.

It does not matter what will happen in a month. Whatever happens in a month is probably going to be just about as indifferent as whatever happened today or last week. None of it matters. We don’t plan long-term because if we do we’ll just get our hearts broken. It’s best not to hope. You just take what you can get as you spot it.

I am not asking for sympathy. I am just trying to explain, on a human level, how it is that people make what look from the outside like awful decisions. This is what our lives are like, and here are our defense mechanisms, and here is why we think differently. It’s certainly self-defeating, but it’s safer. That’s all. I hope it helps make sense of it.

But going beyond these insights, I’ve spent literally hours reading this page over the past week, because the comments are amazing — overflowing with hundreds of commiserations, commemorations, congratulations, excoriations, explanations and rejoinders. The outpouring of honesty and truth here is kind of overwhelming! And the author’s responses to her critics are at least as compelling as the initial post, if not more so, because her calm and grace under fire are wondrous to behold. She displays utterly superhuman patience with a battery of ignorant and judgmental commenters. She has the zenlike acceptance and generosity of a boddhisatva, a lively and articulate mind, the sheer endurance of a redwood, and an indefatiguable sense of humor that leaves me in awe. And yet she is not bitter! This author, and this community, are teaching me so much, and I am changed.

I can’t thank her enough, frankly, so instead of trying, I will throw her a couple of dollars in well-earned compensation, shine my sliver of spotlight on her, and encourage you to meet someone who’s completely ordinary and uniquely special.

@killermartinis Thank you for teaching me!

PS: Big things are starting to happen for her right now, thanks to this essay, and I think that’s kind of great. Nothing like a nice disruption to break a cycle!! 🙂


About amywinns

Semi-snarky, semi-sincere, occasionally ranting, always paying attention. Feminist who can work a skirt and crack a joke. Grammar nerd who is also fun at parties. Mid-career writer/editor with 15 years’ experience in newspapers & magazines who now helps developers at a major media corporation communicate with the suits who write the checks. Pro-women, pro-family, pro-choice, pro-workingclass, pro-entrepreneur, pro-farmer. Like every other bourgeois Brooklynite, I choose local/organic/raw food — mostly vegetables — whenever possible/reasonable/affordable but I’m not a smug asshole about it. Hometown: Atlanta. Weird hobby: lindy hop. No pets, no kids, no thanks.
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