On this holiday, I’m nursing my recovery from a cold that’s lasted over a week, eating into my blogging time as well as my work and Zen schedules. As I rest, given the ridiculously warm winter day here in Austin, I’m sitting out on my back patio and taking a look at things, crunching some numbers, considering the big picture.
To my frustration, I realized I’m currently spending more hours per week at school than I am working on CASE and generating a revenue stream. This was never part of the plan (such as I’ve had one), and certainly feels unbalanced. I also discovered that rent and utilities currently comprise 62 percent of my modest monthly budget (adding in Internet, phone, and food, that percentage rises to 73). Again, this hardly seems sustainable.
Clearly, something has to give. I can strive to become more ruthlessly organized, zeroing in on my highest priorities, identifying even the tiniest open spots in my schedule and maximizing my efficiency. As much as I prefer spontaneity over excessive planning (by which I mean planning that assumes more foresight and control than is reasonable), I can set target dates for generating at least some income, for not living entirely off the savings I built up for this grand experiment.
One way or another, I have to become more focused. More mindful, better able to integrate the big-picture forest and the living-in-the-now trees.
For example, I’ve always been better at dreaming than actualizing, more adept at visioning than implementing. Brainstorming, taking a broad view and picking out possible destinations, is something for which I have a talent and which gives me a rush of exhilaration. The time has come, however, to take my many pipe dreams and see which ones might be brought to life, then applied to this quest for work that’s creative, passion-driven, and sustainable in both a financial and ecological sense.
A survey of my current schemes would include the following. (If I find time, or if there’s sufficient interest among you readers, I may elaborate on these in future posts.)
- Sudbury For Adults. I love the idea of enabling adults to get a taste of the Sudbury experience, to have something along the lines of an artists’ colony for delving into the work of self-discovery and pursuing their passions.
- My Children’s Books. Elsewhere in this blog I’ve described the travails of publishing my stories Song Of Life and When My Dad Was Little. Why not finally resume seeking a publisher or look into self-publishing?
- A 21st Century Studs Terkel. I also love the idea of gathering and disseminating people’s stories. Two projects I have in mind here are Aging (like Terkel’s Working, but about growing older) and Why Our Schools Are Failing (stories from the front lines of why conventional schooling is broken). I love the podcasts of “This American Life” and “The Moth” (less so “StoryCorps,” though the idea/premise is fantastic), and doing something along those lines seems extremely appealing.
- Sudbury and Zen. For a long time I’ve wanted to write about the deep parallels between the educational model and the spiritual path that most appeal to me. I’ve gone so far as to draw up an outline, write a preface, and gather lots of notes. But how best to proceed: use this (or another) blog to develop it further? Try to pitch the idea to a publisher?
- Leaps of Logic. This is a card/party game that grew out of perhaps the most interesting job interview I’ve ever had. Players have to make as many connections between seemingly disparate nouns. (In my interview, they were Ansel Adams, Ben and Jerry’s, global warming, and Last of the Mohicans.)
- Writers Anonymous. One of my writer’s groups spent some time dreaming and plotting a website to provide support for people like us, with a passion for creative writing but not necessarily a professional level of talent or interest.
Glancing over this list, I don’t know how many, if any, of these might lead to any appreciable income, might turn out to provide the sustainable, passion-drive work I crave. Quite likely I will have to chart a course forward that allows some room for pursuing these lovely schemes, but which also allows me to at least cover my current expenses at the same time.
How people find or fashion work they love is a question that lies at the very heart of this blog. If you have thoughts on this subject, ideas on how to make such dreams into reality, I hope you will comment below and join the conversation.