Blueberry Fields 4-ever

Something is wrong inside. I feel it, like that flicker just before the light goes out and the screen gets dark. Something inside is flickering, some energy is running down, and it has been for some time.

So before I go out, I want to be engaged, so to speak. I don't want my light to go out in some dead end job or sitting in front of a T.V.. There is a chain of life. We are all links.

This is what I think about while eating blueberries. One berry at a time. I look at them, fascinated by the color. What other food is this color? Some are sweet, and some are not. I'm mindful of their path to my kitchen. Of how the blueberries came to be in the supermarket where I bought them. Of the labor required to "rake" them. Of the workers, exposed to pesticides and to the elements, working sometimes in extreme heat, bending for hours, at risk for back injuries. I think of the human price that made these blueberries affordable to someone like me. I think of the low wages--especially in the southern U.S., without health insurance or other benefits.

I'm no guilt ridden white liberal, having worked in a succession of low wage jobs without air conditioning. Some of these could be described as sweatshop conditions, and have been so described by some of my co workers. But as an American citizen, I've had a few advantages that my sisters and brothers in the fields do not. Health care, for one. However inadequate and unaffordable. Vacation days. Paid holidays. The ability to change jobs and not be deported. So we are different. But in some ways, maybe not that different.

They work in the fields, in rural areas. Maybe they want to be someplace else. But there they are, for love of family and children, trying to outrun poverty. And in another kind of field--maybe in a downtown high rise or a suburban office park, somebody else labors over paper work, struggles with a heavy mental burden. Maybe they too want to be someplace else, but they stay in the office they have learned to hate, for the love of family and children, trying to outrun poverty. Different fields, different languages. Same motivations. We are all connected. By blueberries, by lettuce, by paper, by pineapple scented candles; by the economic chains that hold us all.

This one's for you, Andrea. Wherever in Mexico you are.

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