Amidst the frenetic times in the days before Christmas I’ve received a few gifts that didn’t come with bows or ribbons but which I appreciate.
Work, and hopefully pay.
In addition to my work with the museum (HCLE), my new blog (Pretending Not To Panic), my books and photos, and my ever-shifting list of clients, I’ve also been sitting in as guest editor for Curbed Seattle where I also am a contributing writer. More succinctly, in addition to everything else I do, I’ve also taken on a full-time job so a friend can take a vacation. Considering the workload I’m witnessing from the inside, he deserves it. In financial situations like mine, work is a gift (as long as I get paid appropriately.) A bonus gift was posting one of my slightly flawed articles that hadn’t been published. It needed work, but I needed to post something quickly to meet a deadline; so, up it went. Within hours it increased the traffic to the site ten-fold. Thanks, I needed that.
Charlie Brown Tree
Working seven days a week, and then adding a full time job on top means things like cards, decorating, shopping for gifts, and socializing are only happening as bare reminders of normal years. I like tradition and ritual so there are some things that must be done! During a two hour forced gap in my schedule, I managed to harvest mega-rosemary from my yard and turn it into a wreath, and string the lights around the poor pine tree in the front yard. The deer use it for a scratching post during antler season. The tree is unhappy. The rosemary bushes are shorn. But, the wreath looks fine and the lights hung just right to make a postcard Christmas tree.
But, I still wanted a tree indoors. Half-jokingly I put out a call on Facebook for anyone who had too many trees on their property. I’d help by harvesting one. Pat Brooks was eager and generous. We found one that wasn’t getting full light, so it was only growing on one side. Great! My living room is small, and this way the tree would fit up against the wall. Just guessing at the height to cut for the length of the truck bed, and it fit just right. Bring it into the house, and again, it fit just right. I like it when a lack of a plan comes together. (PS You may notice that real trees are far more open an delicate than the groomed and trimmed ones from the lot. A bonus is that the ornaments hang free, as long as they don’t weigh too much.)
The day draws near. So does the feast and so does the awareness that a lot of baking hasn’t happened. (My apologies to those who’ve requested my fruitcakes – yes, that happens – but this year I may only have time to make one, for me.) Shopping for dinner and dessert made me aware of the plenty that I live within. While I know my financial situation is temporarily unsustainable, I also know that I live within a civilization that distributes food around the world in variety and quantity never matched by royalty in history. Inequities exist, but I will celebrate the ability to choose and enjoy. There are few things as fundamental as food, and they are all appreciated.
Surprise! I snuck in a stock. This isn’t some ploy to sell my book (but hey, while I’m at it – Dream. Invest. Live.
). A few days ago at bit of logic wandered into my brain. One of my storied investments is in a stock called MVIS, which is for a company called MicroVision. Many of us have been hoping for a Christmas surprise from the company, but nothing yet. During my disappointment, I thought about how long I’ve held the stock (since 2000) and its history (down, down, followed by down.) The company has made progress, but they haven’t made commercial profitability because they haven’t released a high-volume and successful product. Supposedly such news can happen any time; which has been the case for years. Well, the company is certainly in better technical shape than it was five years ago, so the stock should be in better shape. I knew it wasn’t, but my curiosity decided to look up that price from 2009. MVIS was over $20. Now, it is under $2. Many people bought it five years ago because logically it should be worth more than $20. If the company has made progress, and those earlier analyses were conducted with due diligence, then MVIS should be worth more than $20 today. There are a couple of “IF”s in there, but there was some cash in my self-directed IRA so I treated myself to a few extra shares for Christmas. If the Sony news hits by the end of 2014, great. If the CES show reveals some magnificent news, great. If not, I’ve provided myself an opportunity to dream a bit more, for less than some people will spend on shoes.
A day or so ago an artist friend wanted to find a few minutes in my bizarre schedule to bounce an idea off me. Normally, I just say yes, but time is precious this week. Serendipity happens and a slot opened. They want to interview me. Sure. Why? They have some new equipment and a new idea for a series, and wanted to try it out with me. Ok. They got the new equipment because of a job they had for the last couple of years. They got the job because of something I’d helped them with years ago.
I had to interrupt.
The knowledge that somehow I’d helped someone get past a tough spot and into a place where they’re getting to do what they want and earn a living is a sweet gift. The interview is nice, and I appreciate it; especially, because it will be a promo video for my business. I’m honored. Knowing I helped, though, is worth far more.
We never fully know how we affect the world, and which side the balance tips, but at least in one case I’ve learned that at least one person’s life is better. That is truly a real gift I am thankful to have delivered and received – and it didn’t come with a ribbon or a bow.