Sunday, May 28, 2017
I hope you have had a fulfilling week. I've certainly been checking things off my to do list. I've been making choices, and making my schedule for the next month. It is a good sign that I am starting to plan out my calendar, it feels to me that I am becoming more professional. It has been a long time coming, but I am finally seeing the investment in my skills and business start to pay off. Which brings me to this week's topic.
I teach classes in Tai Chi each week. It is helpful on several levels: one it is steady revenue as opposed to my flexible earnings from clients and sales, two it forces me to practice regularly so that I can be an effective demonstrator for my students, and three it gets me out of the house to interact with the larger public. My life can be quite insular, I'm not an extrovert so I don't go out much. Like most of us I live in a bubble, but mine happens to be a bit out of the mainstream. Occasionally something pops through bursting my paradigm isolation. This week it came in the form of an old woman who wanted to set me straight.
I never did catch her name so let's call her Florence. Well I was enlisted as IT help with one of the other senior's phone and Florence and I got to talking about tech. Then she wanted to show me pictures of her granddaughter on her iPhone which was fine by me. She was studying in the medical field. Originally she had wanted to go into psych but Florence had apparently intervened since there was no money in that, but what she really wanted was for her to go into marketing. That's where all the cash was (because we don't need silly things like doctors). Well the conversation turned to me and my plans, well she had plenty to say on that. For those of you who don't know I hold degrees in art and psychology. She called it "Lala" stuff and reiterated that money is what makes the world go round and nobody should waste their life on art or service. She then inquired after my age, which was forward, but I told her and she was shocked. She proceeded to tell me she should have gotten to me when I was 19 or 20 to set me on the right path. Fortunately for me I had another appointment so I was able to extricate myself.
This interaction got me thinking. I have devoted my life to honing what gifts I have and acquiring the skills I use with my clients. It is quite true that if I had used that time in other areas that today I could be much better off financially. Still for those who think only money matters they never stop to ponder what they would buy without those who spend their lives creating. They don't think about all those who toil to bring them their savory dishes. If all of those people just went into marketing there would be nothing to market. There would also nobody to take care of the sick, invent new technologies, compose music, or produce the media to entertain the rest of us. When people only value money they just consume until there is nothing left. Money is a means to an end, an energy exchange, it is not the end. Right now we are seeing the follies of putting profits over people. Here in America most of us cannot afford healthcare. Around the world freshwater supplies are being polluted. The very air we breathe is being tainted because some people value money over protecting our home for ourselves and our descendants. The only reason money makes the world go round is because people have agreed that it does. Those agreements may change, and indeed they must if we wish to have a sustainable way of life.
I really shouldn't have let it affect me, but this encounter was one in a series I've had over the course of my life. People have praised what I do, while simultaneously grumbling over the price. Don't get me wrong I love what I do, and I can't see myself doing anything else. It's what I'm good at, and I have a hard time putting my energy into anything that doesn't provide something of true worth to people. Selling plastic crap that people don't need would leave a huge hole in my soul. Still it sucks when people tell you that you're wasting your life. What sucks more is that it wouldn't affect me if some part of myself didn't agree with that. It can be difficult seeing myself struggle to meet my material needs while knowing that what I do is valuable. It can really lead to some serious self doubt. When I get into that downward spiral I have to remind myself that my needs are met in this moment, and that I have changed people's lives for the better through my work.
So why am I telling you this? Well it can be hard to pull away from the herd mentality and walk your own path. We may watch movies about mavericks and rebels, but we are conditioned by family and later by schools and institutions to not dream too big. It is hammered into us that we just need to keep our head down and take care of our obligations. Many of us spend the precious moments of our lives toiling in places we hate for things we can't enjoy. Yes we need to have some place to live. Yes we need clothing and food. Yes we need to be able to get around. You know what we also need desperately? We need lives of purpose and meaning. Without that everything we do is hollow and scripted. Not everything we do will bring us great wealth, but that shouldn't be the only measuring stick we use. So this week start to become aware of those yearnings you've ignored because they didn't serve the greater cultural narrative of material success. Look to what lights you up, not because it will bring you profit, but because it will bring you the most valuable thing of all...a life worth living.
Peace and Blessings,
P.S. That picture was of my Mesa prayer this week; the focus was to have the strength to walk our own path.