contentment is powerful

My mother’s “agrarian vision” is very practical. She has practiced home economics— a phrase that fell out of fashion, I suppose, partly because it was considered a sexist term. (It is only sexist if one means that only one gender can practice it.) I believe that the phrase fell out of favor because it does not serve the marketplace. To love ones home and to want no other, better place, is contentment. To relieve yourself and the people you love of dependence on people who want to sell you cheap, bad food or entertainment is home economics and it is powerful. In fact, contentment is powerful.

From “My Mother’s Agrarian Making of a Home” by Mary Berry Smith

the things we already have

Learning to love “the things we already have” is always the fount and foundation of contentment, happiness, and wonder:

The whole object of real art, of real romance—and, above all, of real religion—is to prevent people from losing the humility and gratitude which are thankful for daylight and daily bread; to prevent them from regarding daily life as dull or domestic life as narrow; to teach them to feel in the sunlight the song of Apollo and in the bread the epic of the plough. What is now needed most is intensive imagination. I mean the power to turn our imaginations inwards, on the things we already have, and to make those things live. It is not merely seeking new experiences, which rapidly become old experiences. It is really learning how to experience our experiences. It is learning how to enjoy our enjoyments.

From G.K. Chesterton in the Illustrated London News, October 20, 1924. [Quoted in Common Sense 101: Lessons from G.K. Chesterton by Dale Ahlquist (28-29).]

you must not ask for so much

I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch
He said to me, “You must not ask for so much.”
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door
She cried to me, “Hey, why not ask for more?”

Lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On a Wire” (recorded 26 September 1968 in Nashville and included on his 1969 album Songs from a Room).