Would you rather hear about what isn’t working? Go watch the news. I could write about what isn’t working within my own life, but that gets me nowhere. It’s like standing hip deep in a swamp and complaining about the water. It’s good to vent a few choice words about that, but then it’s time to work at finding dry land. Most the media is a mass in a morass, shouting at each other. The politicians seem to wade towards them so they can be seen to be shouting too. I’ve turned off my television, turned my back on the hubbub, and am feeling through the murky water, using my toes to stumble across whatever can lift me a bit higher. I look up too. Maybe there’s a rope ladder hanging from a tree, or at least some blue sky.
Some mornings before I post I take myself out for a walk. I could sit inside and hunt for inspiration by idly reading other people’s postings, tweeted news, or facebook feeds. It might be quicker than visiting the resident guard llama and her herd of floppy-eared goats. (I live in an interesting neighborhood.) Stepping outside is a reminder of what exists beyond the confines of my monitor and stack of bills.
It is a gorgeous autumn morning. The maples have turned, but haven’t shed their leaves. It seems to be happening late this year. The sun is up. The rain is holding off until this afternoon. A walk outside was a great excuse to make those rude noises that come with the recovery from a cold. Sniffles and such don’t seem to bother the livestock. My walk helped breakfast settle and made me look forward to the cup of tea I am drinking during typing breaks.
A walk is a simple thing that costs little and is worth a lot. In the depths of my personal emotional swamp during the previous market crash, I worked instead of walked until my body rebelled with aches and pains. When I started walking, the pains receded, but my thoughts remained tethered to my worries. Practice, practice, and now my walks are more likely to remind me of the positive things I have and get to do when I return home. There is typing to do, emails to send and answer, research to consider, and art to produce. There are classes, consultations, and collaborations to prepare for. Sometimes the preparation is as basic as cleaning the dining room table, and heating up some water for tea.
Most people reading this are already aware of the sudden surge in web traffic generated by a recent post (Micro Vision). My YouTube videos of Whidbey Island are being well-received and cross-posted. (Thank you keepers of the Admiralty Head Lighthouse.) Thursday, I teach a class in Modern Self-Publishing. Friday, I perform a talk and slideshow at South Whidbey Commons. Saturday, I help Whidbey Camano Land Trust with a work party. Then there’s a dance. Then there’s dancing. And yes, it looks like I said the same thing twice but I didn’t. Read more closely. Then there’s charity work that may turn into employment. Along the way there are books to write (Scotland), more videos to produce (one solo plus two collaborations), and hopefully consultations and responding to numerous planning emails. Next year’s calendar is starting to fill. It is less than two months away. Amidst all of this I am also applying for jobs.
The main trickle down I’ve seen in this economy is that of fear constraining wallets and progress. Too many people are listening to the swamp cries. There are advantages to steady paychecks, especially when my savings are diminishing faster than my income is increasing. I know my business can sustain me, but the timing seems to be a little off. Of course, the next email or phone call could make my business (Trimbath Creative Enterprises) profitable enough to pay my bills, sustain my lifestyle, and give me enough money to financially thrive.
I make the distinction about financially thrive because the rest of my life, the non-financial part, the real non-abstract, not-based-on-ideology part, the objective and subjective parts of my life outside of money, are doing well. I’m happier and healthier than I’ve been in years. I’m financially poorer, at least in terms of this moment’s stock prices and my stock portfolio, than anytime in the last two decades. The last time I had so little was when I bought my first house. A month later its value was up 30%. I didn’t have any extra cash, but at least my net worth increased. (Maybe I should check the zillow estimate for my house again. Whoa! Up 6% since the last time I checked.)
My story is a busy story. Monday afternoon was spent listing my projects (supply) and my customers/patrons/clients. One category was books. I have five books for sale through conventional booksellers (amazon, bookstores, etc.) and a different five through blurb. That’s one category. There are nine other categories – and I’m applying for jobs. I’m busy, and I am not alone.
The busiest people I know are unemployed. They are working hard at finding work, building businesses, living frugally, and trying to maintain health and sanity. Some pundits and politicians claim that anyone who wants a job can find a job. Anyone can start a business. But those claims are made by people for whom it worked. They see in the mirror that it worked for them, but I get the impression that they ignore the people behind the businesses that didn’t succeed, that encountered bad luck, that tried the wrong market, or had the wrong timing, or even simply chose the wrong name.
What’s working for our country, eventually, is that a lot of people are working hard at working. Honest, sincere people who haven’t given up despite a lack of their government’s support. People who could easily be scared by the amplified swamp cries. As they improve their footing, whether incrementally by cautiously testing with their toes, or by pulling themselves out via low-hanging branches or old rope swings, they will be the true job creators and wealth creators. They’re probably less likely to get a hand and more likely to lend a hand, or at least leave trail signs because they know there are others out there working hard at finding a way to drier ground. As for the pundits and politicians who revel in the mud, well, at least they seem to enjoy each other’s company. I’ll let them fend for themselves.
What is working for me is almost every aspect of my life besides cash flow. Better cash flow would give me more time to spend on everything else; but luckily, at least I’m learning to recognize that those parts of my life exist regardless of the abstraction we call money. And I think that, considering how hard I am working, that will work for me too.