Where’d the Fish Go?
Y’all know that phrase about the fish and the fishing? (In case you don’t, it’s not fish-centric or considering the fish…the fish are commodities, not living beings.)
“Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.”
I’ve been reading a lot about money lately. Mainly, how to attract and make it (preferably in a non-sleezy way), both on a spiritual/energetic level and on a very practical level. By going through the exercises in Jen Sincero’s book — I just love her writing style and want to write just like that — I’ve dug up some weird hang-ups that I have surrounding the topic. Whether this is actually a factor in less-than-impressive bank account is, to me, dubious, but hey: let’s give it a shot just in case.
I work up thinking about that today, and particularly about the “no excuses!” sub-set of self-help. In part, I get it; if people think it’s all hopeless, they’re not going to try. But all this stuff like “I did it and it was easy!” fails to recognize that it was easy in that very particular time and place with those very specific (and often quite privileged) circumstances.
Because what if someone got a giant net and scooped up almost all the fish before-hand? What if someone drained the lake? What if you don’t have a lake or river around to fish in? What if people are only teaching you outdated ways to fish that don’t work anymore?
I’ve always been resistant to the phrase “anyone can make it”.
Because while that’s technically true, it’s misleading. It makes it sound like every single person can be rich, or at least comfortable. But that’s not what it says. That one would be, “everyone can make it,” which in our economy is verifiably untrue and also very sad.
“Anyone” is singular, not plural. If everyone is living their best life, taking vacations in Tahiti…who’s going to clean the bathrooms? Who’s going to collect garbage? Who’s going to be taking care of people in nursing homes or mental hospitals? Who’s going to be in the back, cooking up delicious and reasonably-priced fare for restaurants? If we’re not willing to create extensive social safety nets like they’ve done in those Northern European countries where everything seems to be perfect, a lot of people are going to be left out of the good stuff.
I often ask myself if there’s a way around this. After all, we should be able to pay decent wages for all of those jobs. Would it cause inflation? I mean, I don’t know, man. Macro-economics eludes me. But surely we could at least have a basic standard of living. Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, and even if they did, it’s not something that would be possible on a societal scale…at least not if they did it full-time, which I think most entrepreneurs would say is necessary.
We need people to do what are now considered to be thankless jobs at least some of the time in order to keep things running around here.
So what if we really valued all the stuff that people do? How could we pull it off? Can we all take turns doing them once in a while, so we won’t forget?
I want to (continue to be) a writer, a translator, and a decorator – I want to make the world’s various physical environments that are made for humans safe, functional, and beautiful for everyone.
But if I’m off doing that, what does my kid get for lunch? Who does the laundry at my house? Who takes my dog for a walk? The need for those things to get done is not going to magically disappear, so how do we take care of people in the meantime?
So, while I’m over here feeling not successful, I’m trying to remind myself that I’m actually accomplishing a great deal…it’s just that many of those things that I’m accomplishing do not earn a wage.
And in the meantime, I’m exploring the ways that the economy is starting to work now for people who need to earn a living now that the social contract of “go to school, get a job, do a job, get paid and compensated for job with enough money to live on plus benefits and retirement” seems to be fading fast.
Entrepreneurship it is! The good thing is that I have a lot of good ideas. The bad thing is that I need to keep paying my bills as I try to be a good mom, keep the house in order, me and my kid healthy, fed, schooled, and entertained while I explore and try out those ideas.
I’ve just started a Patreon site (like a subscription site) to try my hand at crowd-funding…my salary, I suppose? I’m writing special, more exclusive, and more frequent content there, with a new post each Saturday evening. It seems like a fun enough method, though I won’t lie: I sure would love a “base” job with a predictable monthly income.
One of the things that studying Sociology helps you to do is to see yourself in the context of the greater society rather than as an individual simply acting in a vacuum.
We humans move together, much more affected by our times and places in history than we’d like to imagine, a school of fish in the ocean. This is a strange time and place in history, as all times and places are. I don’t know about you all, but I’m trying my best to ride the wave and not get too separated from everyone else.