This, Ben, This is Real!

To say I am disappointed with the way things have turned out in my life would be an understatement. I am. I am disappointed with a lot of things; the place I am in life right now is not what I had hoped/dreamed/expected and yes, I am disappointed, better just admit that to myself and have that out of the way.
I don’t know what I expected though, and maybe that’s part of the problem. Most people I know had some sort of a plan. They were going to get this or that education and go for this or that job and career.
I didn’t have a plan.
I still don’t.
I’ve lived a life that was kind of a day to day deal. Sure, I dreamed a lot; I dreamed about recording an album and tour and play festivals and maybe those were more than dreams; after all, I accomplished all those things. I dreamed it, worked hard for years, and all of it came true.
Now, I am in my 40’s and I find myself lost in a way I haven’t been before. I still dream, but my dreams are obscured by the everyday struggle to stay alive, put food on the table, pay the bills and so on.
I dream on, but I feel emotionally lost, drained by the seemingly never ending notifications of unpaid bills and suspension warnings on the phone account.

I have one thing that carries me through all this though; my creativity.

When Ben Carson said in an interview recently that poverty is a state of mind, it shows exactly what is wrong with the world. All our lives we’ve been sold the idea that it is the immigrants fault that we struggle, or it’s the Mexicans fault, the Muslims fault, the Jews, the leftist, the right wingers fault…the people in charge want us to believe those things. It makes it easier for them to get away with what they’re doing. So, really Ben, being poor is a state of mind?

I am poor and I can tell you that it is not, nor has it ever been a damn state of mind.

I see my brothers and sisters working their asses off to try to pay their bills and rent. We work hard for wages that doesn’t cover our expenses. You guys make in a day what most of us make in a year.

We are the ones to make the world go around; making your hamburgers, cleaning your floors, washing your laundry, fixing your cars. We are the ones driving around with duct taped windows, because we can’t afford to put in a new one.

We are the ones putting five bucks of gas in the tank, because we don’t have more money and can’t fill it up.

We are the ones waiting on the bus that never comes, no matter what the weather is like.

We are the ones to go to work even if our bodies ache and we really should stay in bed, but we can’t afford to miss a day of work.

We are the ones to not go to the doctor, not because we don’t care, but because we can’t afford the cost.

We are the ones fundraising for our sick spouse or kid, because the costs of medications and insurance is so high that we would have to work hundreds of hours to afford it.

We are the ones who get a stomach ache every time we check our account balance, knowing there won’t be enough there to pay for even the basics.

We. Are. The.Ones.

Not you. Not your people. Not you with all the money and twisted views on reality.

I remember many years ago, I read an interview with a Swedish musician, it might have been Peter Svensson from the Cardigans, but it could have been someone else. I don’t remember exactly what the question was, but the content of his answer was that the one major contributing factor to his band’s success was being able to receive unemployment.
I would have to agree.
If I hadn’t had access to unemployment when I was in my twenties, there’s no way I would have been able to write all those songs I wrote, record those albums, go on tour etc.
It was crucial. It allowed me to do what I do best; being creative and imaginative and I can tell you, I wasn’t just sitting around rolling my thumbs in lalaland. I worked fucking hard. I wrote songs like you wouldn’t believe it. All in all I wrote songs for 5 albums, 3 with my band and 2 for my solo albums. Now, I know that people like Ben Carson and all the others “up there” probably think that art and music is less important and something that can be defunded and put at the bottom of the pile of priorities.

Once again, you and your people are wrong.

A society is only as strong, only as good as its culture. If you don’t have art, music, theater, movies etc, you are dead. All these things reflect a society; it’s strengths and its weaknesses. It’s part of our nature to be creative. Not for all of us, but for many of us, and for those of us that feel that creativity is the one thing that keeps us going, that keeps us grounded and sane, it is more important to be able to be creative than it is to fix that broken car window.

Those of us who feel that way, keep on struggling. We keep on fighting the odds. We get up every day to face our demons, our stress and our hopelessness. We go to work, we do a damn good job and we dream, we create in our minds as we flip those burgers, clean those floors, watch your pets or stock those yogurts in the dairy isle. We get by because we have a weapon you guys can never take from us no matter how you try.

Our creativity. Our imagination. Our drive. Our focus.

That, Ben, is real.


About David Fridlund

Born in Sweden 1974. Moved to Austin TX in 2009 w my wife.
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