I started to write this after the new year and never got very far except in my head. You know how life can be. And I started to write it because of the very thing that eventually got in the way of my opportunity to spend time writing. I made a resolution to write every day in the new year and promptly broke that resolution, and soon after forgot about it. Resolutions are that way.
But the thing I was thinking about and the opportunity that was in front of me didn’t disappear that way. It kind of insisted that I address it and this opportunity required a great deal of prayer (such as I do – many church folk would wonder at what I call prayer) and meditation (more recognizable among regular practitioners), consultation with those who love me and whose opinions I value. One of them advised, “Take the leap of faith. That’s where the growth happens.”
Let me circle back to the title of the post. What does it mean to live from desire? What does it mean to live from vision? Why might one have to make a choice?
Until this last week, I’ve had a job selling debt settlement services. I help people find a way to pay back less than what they owe on things that they bought. To be sure, there are people who end up with more credit card debt than they intended through genuine hardship; terrible things do happen. The simple fact is that most of the people I sold our services to use credit cards the way some people (like me) use drugs and alcohol. Credit cards are the magic ticket that gets them the things they want to feel better, and after all the bill is very small. Rather, it’s very small until it isn’t.
When only 1% of your payment is going toward the principle and your rate is somewhere between 17 – 28% that $300 pair of shoes you had to have suddenly ends up costing over $400 and takes more than 2 years to pay off. That feeling you get from the pair of shoes is not going to hold you for 2 years and you end up buying another pair, and then it’s a new season and you need another pair, and another pair and so on and before you were even conscious of what was happening all of your disposable income is going to pay the interest on things you got to feel better, and you have no more money to get the things you think you need to make you feel better.
At this point, the banks have you where they want you. You are a slave, and you will spend the next 30 years paying them interest at the highest possible rate for as long as they can make you. Unless a person is ready to face why they spend the way they do and are willing to change their behavior there is little hope of them ever freeing themselves from the cycle.
The thing about this job is that while I’m fair at it, always perform solidly in the middle, I’m pretty well compensated for it, well enough that I have enough cash to meet my needs fairly comfortably without paying too much attention. That’s kind of what I want. I want to go to a movie when I want to. I want to eat the food I want. I want to be able to swipe my card at Costco without triple checking the balance in my account or worrying about whether or not I can afford my car insurance. But it isn’t rocket surgery. Any idiot can read a script, follow through with a client, and show up at work on time. I’m also not adding anything to the value of my community. I may be helping some people get control of a situation that they have no other reasonable way out of; as I said, sometimes things happen. But for the most part, I’m enabling people to continue their unconscious behavior in a way that relieves them of accountability. I have a very low investment in doing that so I put in the hours I need to put in and I can’t wait to get off work so I can live my real life. I only go to work because I have a desire to have the means to be comfortable as I pursue what interests me, but I have to trade a huge chunk of my time in order to get it, so I have much less time to do what makes me happy. Kind of like that credit card debt cycle, I’m caught in a trap.
Well, in the process of that small part of my life where I do the things that make me happy — the things that fulfill me emotionally and spiritually, I was offered a job. This job will consume virtually all of my time and attention and I will be compensated but a fraction of what I made in my job as an enabler. But when I think about who I am and what I have to bring to the world this job seems custom made for me. When I consider my particular skill set, my background, my temperament, when I consider what I want to accomplish with my life, the impact I’d like to have on my community, what I want to be remembered for, it is as if my fondest wish materialized. Add the fact that this job approached me, and being the post-Mormon, magical thinking, Hand of Our Creator kind of guy I certainly can be, I had no choice but to give the opportunity some serious consideration.
Well, I’ve made the choice. I want to be a person who lives from my vision for my life. I resigned from my job enabling money addicts and have taken a job assisting the recovery community. I am now the Director of the PEER Wellness Center, a Recover Community Center. I have a very steep learning curve ahead of me and a giant job to do, which I feel only marginally competent to do. I have incredible support from the person who hired me for the position, however, and that helps me have faith. She has much more time working in this space and I guess that in spite of the fact that I’m throwing myself into economic insecurity, at least my work will make a difference. It will matter that I put my time and talent to bear in this organization. My work will genuinely help people that really want help and it will change lives. That matters more to me than another pair of new shoes.