Commonplace Newsletter #71
Truth - 'The longer you are in poverty the longer you are likely to stay there'
Let me in into the discord. I couldnt subscribe even if I wanted to.
"Anyone with the energy of youth can withstand poverty for a few years. But it’s when it runs to a few decades that the problem arises. It’s when it becomes permanent. It’s the way it slowly grinds at you and wears your spirit down that is the thing."
That's all too true. And it's usually at this point that you are likely to develop vices as crutches to bear the weight. When I was working at a retail bank, I used to see this everyday. People who were always flat broke by the 20th of the month but smoking 2 packs a day. Or drinking a third of their salary in pubs. It's easy to laugh at them and call them weak and irresponsible, but when you're living on the edge, those little vices become more than vices; they're helping you make it through. And when you managed to save a little, there's usually a car problem (you tend to have a lot of car problems when you can only buy broke-people types of cars), or a water issue in the bathroom, and just like that you're back to square one. Add it to the misery tax.
Perhaps the worst aspect of being broke is that you're never at ease in your head and you can't focus on the present, because the future reminds itself to you all the time. You can't make plans, you can't project yourself, and all your energy is consumed on survival mode. With time, you begin to wonder if life is ever going to take off, because what you tought was a little bump on the road has now turned into 1, 2, 5, 10 years of the same bump, and you've been stuck on this portion of the road forever. No wonder some have the urge to stop, make camp and call it a home. If you're not careful, those thoughts macerate and after some years they turn into layers of sediments, hardened fossils that are part of your soil and that you won't be able to get rid of.
As you said Thomas, the only way to pull through is to realize you can either suffer for nothing, or find a meaning in your suffering; i.e. suffering towards a goal. Easier said than done, but really, is there an other choice? I haven't found any.
He he, me making it on your newsletter is kind of an accomplishment!
Platitudes aside, when one drowns in the their craft for the sake of the craft itself, everything else takes the sidelines. This is true not just in the case of being broke, but also when struggles through strained relationships, death of a loved one, etc. If you’ve found something that you can drown yourself in, you need to be grateful for it.
The inklings of this I’ve seen can be found in your childhood memories - think about the things you loved doing as a kid, because that is where your heart truly lies. I loved spending time on the shop floor, among machines - in the cacophony. I still do - although it involves getting a lot of grease on yourself - both in reality and metaphorically, (sticking to it) - was one of the best decisions of my life. I will always be grateful for discovering my calling.
It’s such a joy to read your essays Tom - your contentment and excitement jumps out of your writing. I’m glad that you’ve found your calling too!
I just checked out the Max Richter piece and it is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! You might want to check out the OST of Nomadland - it complements this Max piece very well. Have a marvellous Sunday!