Too Many IFs

Imagining possibilities can be like staring at the sun. Too much can hurt. If you can’t tell from my recent posts, there are many ifs in my life. Imagining the possibilities is fascinating while sitting somewhere stable and secure. The same possibilities can exist from a less comfortable position, but without the stability and security too many negative possibilities are added. A brain can get hurt trying to encompass such a broad range. Old-style programmers may recognize the convoluted task of considering so many IFs, THENs, and ELSEs. I’ve never had so many simultaneously.

My previous post, Home For Sale Alas, has sparked a lot of private messages, both electronic and in person. Folks are sorry to hear that I am selling my home. I’m sorry to hear it too. The most common question is, “What will you do if you sell?” The most common answer is, “I don’t know.” The rest of the answer is that there are too many possibilities to mention.

Check the post before that. It was called, My Jobs Report Month 9. Many people asked, “What will you do if you get the job?”, but most don’t because they think they already know the answer. If there’s only one and it is reasonable (like it doesn’t involved daily commutes to Mongolia for minimum wage) then the choice is simple. I’ll accept, if nothing else has changed.

My life is currently filled with IFs. IF my stocks recover in time, or IF they don’t. IF my business makes enough to sustain my lifestyle, or IF it doesn’t. IF I get a reasonable (or even a spectacular) job, or IF I don’t. IF my house sells, or IF it doesn’t. Those four sets of IFs represent sixteen distinctly different scenarios, and actually more because of the nuances within reality. IF the stocks recover somewhat, and IF the business becomes at least profitable, and IF I get at job that pays a bit of the bills, and IF the house sells, THEN – well – maybe you begin to see my position. And of course there are plenty of other IFs in my life as there are in any life at any time. Logic alone has a rough time with so many possibilities. Many of them involve life choices, which means each is flavored with unique mixes of emotions.

The odds are very small that any life reaches a particular position. One aspect may seem well defined, but others have probably aimed at the same goal under similar circumstances and missed. Guessing every aspect of a position becomes nearly impossible. The odds that I would end up in my current situation are so small that lottery ticket odds look good in comparison, which is one reason I buy tickets. It is also why I am glad that I have learned to live a frugal life.

We talk about probabilities with mathematical precision, but the percentages are academic. Either something happened (one) or it didn’t (zero). Its quantum state collapsed and resolved itself into reality. No IFs remain.

Many of my fellow unemployed or under-employed are in similar situations. I know that many of them don’t talk about the possibilities because the negative ones are too familiar and the positive ones seem out of reach. Maybe here I can present a small aspect of their voice. I know one guy who is “over-qualified and over-55.” He was informally told by a recruiter that their orders were to only look at people between 25 and 45. They could do that because there are so people to pick from. Is it age discrimination? Of course. But they aren’t checking applicants’ ages, merely the year they graduated from high school. Is there anything else he can do about it? No. Except to keep mowing the lawn and hoping to eventually sell the house or stumble across a positively unlikely possibility. I wonder if he buys tickets too.

I don’t know where my life is headed. I didn’t predict it would get here. I won’t predict where it heads next. I know the range of possibilities reaches down to depths I don’t want to witness and up to heights that exceed my imagination, and I can imagine quite a bit. (Thank you Han Solo.) What’s most likely is something in between.

I am fortunate because I have been working at exercising as many of my talents as I can fit into a day. I’ve been doing so even before the Triple Whammy hit in August. Back in March of 2011 I was blogging about my many Lines In The Water. I’ve had a head start on entrepreneurship because I’ve been busy since the day I semi-retired fourteen years ago. That 10,000 Hour Rule might kick in at any time.

Many friends have asked me, “What can I do to help?” Much of what is discussed in the media is over-arching and academic, as if the answers are always political or social. I think I’d be in a much better financial situation if the SEC policed and enforced its regulations. Advocating for such change is admirable and pervasive, but that damage is done. Individual lives are lived within more immediate concerns. Sometimes the answers are much simpler. Some healers, coaches, and artists are now healers, coaches and artists because they have to be. Fortunately, many of them are exercising talents they wouldn’t have be brave enough to use otherwise. Hire them and you may both benefit. Some people are selling their crafts or time because that’s all they have to sell and because they may have no other way to pay the bills. Support them and they may turn hobbies into businesses while you acquire something you’ll appreciate. If they are hunting for a job, consider them rather than their resume. Some jobs never created titles that transferred to lines on a resume.

I thank those who have read my books, bought my art, or hired me as a consultant. That helps enormously. Supporting a small business feeds energy back into a positive and reinforcing cycle that builds into sustainability. I am glad for the opportunities that might, may, could, probably, hopefully, will begin improving my financial situation within the next few weeks or months. (Care to fund a foundation that will fund innovative and passionate grad student who want to improve the world?) If they do, then my finances improve, my possible paths begin to sort themselves out, and my brain can wrap around dreams again. If the house sells, and if the stocks recover, and if my business pays me well enough, then I’ll enjoy paying my bills, buying local art, and benefiting from talented people who can help me make my life better.

Enough with the IFs. It is time to be dazzled!

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: and at my amazon author page:
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