Monday, January 30, 2017

Enough is as Good as a Feast

A while back I discussed the often overlooked benefits of Facebook. Today we look at another: free blog fodder. A couple of weeks ago Sam Wiebe left the post below. I commented at the time, but said even then this deserved a whole blog post.

Here is Sam’s “inciting incident:”

Insomniac question: which of these would you choose and why?
1. Would you rather make a lot of money doing something you dislike...
2. ...or a 'comfortable' amount doing something you don't mind/kind of enjoy...
3. ...or a slightly above subsistence level doing exactly what you want?

There was a time when my answer would have been—and was—Option 3. In my trumpet days I was perfectly happy playing what gigs I could get and teaching. I would never have made more than I needed to live on—I wasn’t that good—but I would have been happy.

For a while.

Number 3 is okay if you don’t have other obligations and don’t mind working until you die because you don’t have enough saved—and may not have paid enough into Social Security—to feel comfortable retiring. Even had I not sought more permanent employment when The Sole Heir™ came along, my days as a musician were numbered. I need some idea of where and when my next paycheck is coming. I need to know I could meet my obligations. I was fortunate to be married to a woman who didn’t mind (too much) that I wasn’t really pulling my weight financially. I did what I could to be a decent house husband to pick up some of the slack, but it was an untenable long-term position for someone of my disposition.

It took me a while to drift into Option 2, but that’s where I belong. I have a good job now, saving for retirement. The Sole Heir™ is a grown woman. The house almost paid for. The job takes a consistent 40 hours a week, but I work almost exclusively at home, so there’s no commute. No waking at the crack of dawn, no fighting traffic. The work is usually interesting. I enjoy and respect the people I work with. It’s also not so draining that I’m not ready to write in the evenings, nor am I too tired to read for at least an hour before turning in. It’s a perfect situation for me. I might not have chosen Option 2 when I was young, but experience is a wonderful teacher for those who pay attention.

Option 1 is the one slot I’ve not filled, and yay, me. Even when I was too young to know better I understood that was not the way to go. Life is too short, and we only get one. Americans too often live to work, pushing everything else to the background and rationalizing it by buying things or hoarding money. Employers say, “Your family will just have to understand.” I say, “You have to understand. The only reason I’m here is for my family.”

An old Russian proverb says, “Enough is as good as a feast.” While my eating habits clearly haven’t internalized that message, I’ve always been pretty good with it. All my bills are paid, home maintenance is pretty well up to date, I’m saving money, I have time to spend on the things I care about most, and I’m not getting my balls broken on a daily basis. People I respect respect my writing and I enjoy the process.

Yeah, I’m in a pretty good place. Good thing, too. I’m too old for the rest of that shit.

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