It is tough, trying to keep all of it in my head. There’s a lot of news out there, and it is increasingly apparent that it is all connected because we are all connected. My news blog, Pretending Not To Panic
, is “news for people who are eager and anxious about the future” because there is good and bad news out there, and trying to keep it all in mind can cause headaches. If that was all a person had to do, it would be a tough enough task. Real lives, however, have to also keep in mind the practicalities and responsibilities involved in living. Take those two tough tasks and add a third by realizing how much of the news out there connects with the lives we lead – and then deciding what to do with things like our time and money. That’s a lot to keep in mind. There must be a way.
With seven billion people on the planet human perspectives become statistical quickly. There are some who believe that everything is going to continue to improve. Whether they are relying on inertia, faith, or analyses, they may see less of a reason to worry and more of a reason to prepare for a celebration. There are some at the other extreme who believe that everything is collapsing and that it’s too late to do anything about it. They may rely on similar sources and come to opposite conclusions. Are we approaching utopia and rapture, or dystopia and armegeddon? The great mix in the middle is infinitely diverse. Pick a general category: economy, society, justice, technology, environment, politics, … It is easy to hear from folks that think some categories are getting better while others are getting worse. Except on a biological level, we are not a homogeneous species. We get a great diversity of insights, and a lot of trouble reaching consensus.
I’m in that great mix. I’m in that great middle ground to the point that people who rely on labels have a tough time understanding my perspective. I am an extreme, independent, moderate – I am convinced that many of our best solutions are in the middle, and that none of the parties are there. The solutions may not be the ultimate, but the middle is where we can make the moves that matter, and that give us the inertia to get to the next step. The middle is where we have the best change of deciding what to do with our society.
My real life is equally complicated, with great potentials and great worries and a great uncertainty in where I am. I attempt to keep in my head the same things most of us must deal with. You don’t need my list. Look inside for yours. The two main categories are incredibly general and basic: time and money.
Because of my unfortunate financial situation and my dedication to improving it through my Rule of Seven, I’m working seven days a week, with a day off every month or two. Every day I think about how to allot my time. I’m an entrepreneur and sole proprietor, which means I’m working with several clients, which means I’m working to several schedules and compensation packages. Before I get out of bed (really just my futon sofa), I already have a plan for the day. That was true when I had a paycheck, but the schedule is far more chaotic, and each day is unique. Having several clients means that, except for my two biggest clients, an interruption in their schedule is easier to accommodate. Having several clients also means an inefficient way to work. As I shift from task to task I have to shift urgency, discretion, client implicit and explicit expectations, computers, and the way I account for my efforts.
My unfortunate financial situation also means that every expense is noted. Some are non-negotiable: mortgage, insurance, utilities, food. One measure of my situation is that the negotiable expenses are almost down to zero; but repairs
sneak in or are delayed, occasional luxuries arise and are ignored or approximated, and most plans are dammed awaiting that rising tide. Because bills come in on varying schedules, each month means a different maneuvering of funds, sometimes with delays in payment. Debt versus delay becomes a balancing act.
Here it is, 7pm on a Saturday night, and I just finished working an hour or so ago. It is a good thing that I enjoy writing because it is one of the cheapest ways to spend an evening.
The global view is overwhelming. My personal situation is stressful and anxious. In both cases, there are positives that can dramatically improve both, and that’s where I find hope.
The trickiest part, however, is the recognition that the world and I am not separated. I am part of the world, and the world affects me. Take the web of conditions affecting the globe. Take the intricacies of a necessarily frugal life. Then, realize that they are intertwined. As the environment goes, so goes my food, water, and air supply. As the economy goes, so goes my income and expenses. As politics go, so go my obligations and support. I’m glad I live by the Salish Sea, which moderates some of the environmental impacts; and I only use about a tankful of gas per month. That wouldn’t change much if my finances were better (though my hiking expenses would go up.) My business relies on other people and businesses, so as they have the resources to do more, I can do more – and I pay attention because the businesses are in industries that are changing. I vote, which at its basic level takes little time, but politics reaches in and affects my taxes, health care, mortgage – and reaches out and affects social injustice, support for others, and hopefully the common good. The most likely outcome is that both good and bad will happen, because they always have.
So, what happens when I keep all three levels in mind: global, personal, connections? I don’t know. The closest I got involved some precious time sitting on the deck (because I was tired and a client slip created a gap), with a drink (a homemade infused vodka martini). I do know, however, that I tried; and that the snippets, trends, and connections that I find are fascinating and frustrating. The fascination comes from seeing how close we and I are to dramatic improvements. The frustration comes from seeing how close we and I are to significant failures. I’ve managed a few such sessions, and I’ve learned one comforting paired response: I’m not perfect, but am trying my best; and that after trying to keep it all in mind I should trust my self and let it all go, at least for a while.
Learn. Understand. Act. Trust. Let go.