Below the line: Of the things you would know and measure


Most things you think you know are imaginary, and sometimes friends can be too, like when you’re young and there’s a 60ft alien robot by your side and together, you kick ass.

We are taken with the measurement of things, as a species, without a counting and weighing, we would be adrift and dysfunctional in the world of man.

What does a number mean to you?

One. There is me, I am here.

Two. It takes this much to make the first, most journeys are coloured thus.

Three. The Trinity; there is no spoon, nothing and no one but you.

Four. A full quota for each window in Johari’s house and if a glass be your measure then a full cup of life unto you.

There are many ways to measure and count the things that matter in our lives today. Man, in his incomprehensible urge to weigh his world has coined a magnitude of terms for data that you can pore through to your heart’s content. Today, all it would take to get you the price of a Yak on the Tibetan plateau is a six letter word, Google. Wherever there is a human need, there will arise someone or thing to fill it, if the price is right. Google however, cannot tell you the measure of life on the plains, to know this you must journey to the land where the Yak is king, where the air is thin, dry and cold but the grass grows still, where with axe and hammer, we raise our dead to the skies and when the earth moves, we move with the wind and water to heal, the heart of life that yet beats within.

I have been, for one part, trained and educated an economist. One of the pitfalls of this is that one is bound to take a ruler to the world and measure; to what intents and purposes, asks the farmer, why weigh my animals, crops and fields and tell me I needs must more yield? Is this not enough for your soul and spirit? Would you have me build the granaries of the world in my backyard, to feed your fancy whenever it takes you? Aye, I say, for I too, are in want of a soothing balm, a tonic from the madness of the world, whence I can sit apart and attempt to balance the scales, and seek liberty and justice.

The economist says that you are poor; she would have you be more in the material and that it seems the years will pass you by and you will not be when there is need of you. Why will you not listen, why will you not work, why not till the land and bring forth nature’s gifts that you so richly deserve? In the stead of wealth, you chase after fleeting dreams and big deals and consumed by the need and want that cannot be satisfied, you would rend all in your path.

I, you say, seek to give that which cannot be measured and to take that which is freely given by the earth. The fig feeds millions in the forest, each taking turn when the time is right, but you will reserve your charity for those you deem to deserve, yet the fig takes its due too, blessing or curse.

Here is the line, if you are below, then your life is worth less than enough, says the economist. You are in need of ambition my brother; don’t stop reaching for a higher branch.

The economist in me knows where the line is, and despite being taught to avoid it with the fear of the reaper, I have wandered perilously close these many months past. See, the reaper is my friend, she was with me at the beginning of this tale and I will see her again, when it is wound up. You have nothing to fear, son of man, even if you should wander across the lines, forget not that the world is yours and you are king, and accord the farmer his due and he will let you drink of the creek that runs through his fields, says the reaper.

There is no fear in me, I cross the line of my own volition and tell myself that I am changed forever, I will not return I say, not the me that was. The me that would have waited for you, by the well, is gone. I have a pot of water and it must go back to the mother, for she would make life with it. I will look for you, on my next turn and throw of the die; I would have you in my picture, below or above the line.

Everything has a price. No; you will never truly understand this statement until you learn the wisdom of it in your own time. See, there are things human beings believe are beyond measure, like the love of God. The preacher by the wayside screams with fervent gestures, praying for your soul, certain of its damnation he has taken the mill upon his neck, he will save you, he says, so he screams and shouts at all that you do and yet he is only sound and fury to you, paying the price of an old tale whose light and love would ask that you burn out your heart. I stepped across the line and found many a prophet on the other side. If you would seek to be set up as judge, you must risk the hangman’s noose and be judged first and to be thus, is to open the door of your temple to the world, unafraid of its foundations. It is not an easy price to pay, some do it for money, some for love and others claim there is no measure of man for the things they do, but you are man, only man can measure and judge you.

What does it mean to be poor? I have often thought that it is to lack the will to build a life as you would wish it to be but there are measurements that most people hold as a standard; a roof over your head, food to eat, and a passion to while away the years but most important of all, people to share and love. Every human life should be dignified and respected and where does it start but in your own solitary husk and shell? When you live below the line, you fight for an identity that does not burn like paper; it is a struggle with inner demons that is only necessary for a lack and want of knowledge. You would seek to define yourself by the hills and trees of the lands you come from, you say that to ask you to descend from the trees and share with the world your wit and intellect is to lay a heavy burden upon you, so you would do with speaking fees. Perhaps, the name of father and mother can be worn with pride or you will build from the ground and rise higher than yonder tower in Babel, whatever your concourse, you must find unity in your body, soul and spirit. The longer you wander the paths, the wilder your spirit grows, and you should be wary of it overcoming the soul and body.

I have always looked at the people who live daily on the street and known that but for a fortunate turn of events, there is me. Poverty is borne of fear, it is the desperation that tomorrow, there will not be enough, so you would gather all of yourself but never have enough for a day.

So, I look upon you on the street without pity or fear, for I am you too, I can be you if life should seek it of me again, but if I should have the power, I will rise and hope that one day, you will rise too and walk back to your home.


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