On not being poor vs. doing what you love
31 May 2009 12 Comments
“Screw cash. Do you know what it’s like to wake up knowing that you’re doing what you love?”
Over the course of the past ten years or so I’ve heard a few different people declare that they aren’t going to “be poor!” This is usually in the context of college majors, career choice or current job. I haven’t probed when it’s come up, but I’m guessing the sentiment is often the result of personal past impoverished experiences. If I recall correctly from a book of his I read five years ago, Dave Ramsey’s wife has a bit of this complex.
My wife and I are in a pickle, as I explained a week or so ago, and might be on the poor road very soon (if we’re not already). Just after moving to Arkansas in 2003 we were in a similar financial situation. Needless to say it’s not a fun place to be. We’ve given ourselves to the ministry we moved down here to serve with and making money, beyond what we need to live on, has not registered on the radar.
The question all of this is raising in my mind is as follows: Is American affluence driving people away from their gifts? In other words, does the cultural pressure in our consumerist culture keep people from pursuing careers they might enjoy and excel at, instead wooing them to pursue more secure and higher paying marginal careers?
It’s on my mind in a personal way as we think about what will come of the rest of this year, and the years to come. The hope is to move to a place with lower housing costs and more part-time work to supplement our continued service with the ministry. In theory, our living expenses would be cut to the point we wouldn’t have to maintain full-time employment, freeing up more time for both of us to work on our crafts.
It seems to us that our plans are pretty modest. We’re eager to pursue the things in life we’re passionate about — missions, sculpture, writing, the fiber arts. Despite these seemingly modest aspirations, though, I’m wondering if we’re actually going to be able to execute this plan. Learning the house isn’t worth as much as we figured and noticing yesterday that we haven’t paid off as much as I’d thought in the past four years were chinks in our armor.
I’ve never developed or cultivated an aversion to poverty, assuming we still have a roof over our head and food on the table. Regardless, our present circumstances have been testing our faith. I really like the so-called plan we’ve sketched out (on a napkin, so to speak) and hope it works out. If we can’t make it work, I have positively no idea what we’ll we be doing or where we’ll end up.
And while I won’t refer to that as “scary,” it’s certainly the kind of situation that makes most of us humans very uncomfortable.