Allow me to pour a glass of wine, again. So, how’s your world? Seen any changes lately, like, oh, since Friday? The world has changed. The world has stayed the same. Take any period and that’s been true, though the rate of change has definitely accelerated in the last century, last few decades, since the new millennium, and in the last few days. It’s probably changed in the last hour. I’ll check on Twitter after I post this. Throughout the change, some things, usually critical things, remain the same. I’ve been watching for a major societal upset for a while now, wondering I was just humoring my inner pessimist, and realizing some of those scenarios may be happening now. Travel and a study of history come in handy at times like this. Stick to the basics, including ethics, and adapt as necessary – and maybe recognize new opportunities.
My world got busy in 2017, mostly in good ways, somewhat in uncertain ways, but at least there’s more money coming into my business now than there was a year ago. No politician can claim any of that accomplishment. I thank my network. I’ll skip most of the details because so much in life is shifting and changing that it is healthiest to concentrate on the steady, healthy core. Some of the shifts are nicely positive, but I won’t celebrate them until there’s a positive commitment. A quick summary is this, my Rule of 7 continues to apply as I work seven days a week, and usually ten to twelve hours a day, but the number of billable hours are up, and so are the rates. Whew.
I’ve been so busy that I’ve put on weight because I’ve had less time to exercise. I continue to get out for walks, but not runs; my bike is collecting cobwebs as I wait for coworks to open; and the weather has curtailed energetic martial arts exercises outdoors because it is embarrassing to find that I slipped and hit myself. Yes, that happens.
In about 1996 I was fortunate enough to work in the Ukraine for a week and a half as part of a team launching American satellites on Russian upper stages on Ukrainian lower stages that launched from a cruise ship and mobile oil platform that were modified by Norwegians. I like jobs like that. Throw in a culture clash between commercial and military and never be bored. I miss those days as a mission planner and customer liaison.
My main benefit from the trip to Dnepropetrovsk (a fine word to have to repeat to border agents who don’t quite speak English or Ukrainian), was meeting Ukrainians. The Berlin Wall was down. The USSR was dissolved. Their economy was in such bad shape that they turned off the gas to the eternal flame that honored their World War II dead. And yet, they had impressive technology, brilliant engineers, and resourceful people. Their engineers were calculating rocket trajectories by hand that I could only do on a computer. And they excelled.
The people outside the factory impressed me more. On one of the few walks through town, we saw rows of people creating small, personal markets. Don’t think of quaint farmer’s markets. Think smaller. A long line of people, each with a cardboard box, each selling less than a half dozen things: a fish, some bread, maybe some fruit. It was a sad sight. It was also a sign of adaptation. The ones on the sidewalk hadn’t given up. I wonder how their lives have changed in the last twenty years.
The norm in America is far from that norm. I keep in mind, however, that such things are possible anywhere.
I squeezed in a walk this evening. I wanted to get some exercise in before dinner and before sunset. A man walked by with two dogs, which are really just conversation starters on leashes. He and I chatted for long enough that the energetic dogs sat down in the road. (There’s a mark of a rural road, take a seat and don’t worry about traffic.) It turns out that we’re both frugal. The difference is that he is older and already on Social Security. His philosophy was simple. Take it easy. Live simply. Ignore the fluff. Walk the dogs. That’s something that doesn’t change – as long as Social Security doesn’t change.
A similar quote comes to mind for people on spiritual journeys; “Chop wood. Carry water. Gain wisdom. Chop wood. Carry water.” I think the modern equivalent is; “Pay bills. Do the laundry. Gain understanding. Pay bills. Do the laundry.”
Usually, I post one article per day to PretendingNotToPanic.com, news for people who are eager and anxious about the future. Too many places only report the good or the bad, but not both. I do what I can. I tend to leave politics out of it unless it is a generalizable trend measured over years. Since Election Day, it’s been more difficult finding apolitical content. The good news is that I’ve forced myself to focus on issues that will be pertinent in five years that were also pertinent five years ago. A span of ten years can encompass dramatic change that is less random than political whims. Climate change, economic instabilities, technological advancements, scientific discoveries, are all progressing. They may be impacted by politicians; but now that we’re a global community, a dip in one place inspires action in another.
Frugality has its benefits. One is an understanding of fundamental values and resources that are highly personal. Just like the guy walking his dogs, being frugal by choice and then by necessity has taught me the value of my values, my efforts, my friends, my community, my faith in people, and my general faith.
We are in weird times. If I solely concentrate on the weirdness, I’ll miss these times in my life. I’ll continue to watch the news, be aware of the political winds and whims; but the main thing I have to keep in mind is pay bills, do laundry. Good thing I have a washer/dryer.