Tuesday night is dance night. Actually, on Whidbey, any night can be dance night. I know someone who dances six nights out of seven and purposely misses the one so she can rest for the rest. Rural communities make their own entertainment. One friend and dancer came in last night and needed to dance. She’s been looking for a job for months, sending out lots of applications, and working hard at maintaining hope. She’s not alone. Luckily, there were people to dance with. She was smiling less than two songs later. Sometimes staying positive is a dance, and dancing is frequently more fun when it’s not done alone.
Within the last few days I received an email from a fellow investor, reader, and searcher. (I’d include the original text but I haven’t checked with him.) He, too, is unemployed despite months of searching and feels that the rest of life is fine except for work and money. He was nice enough to reach out and talk about mutual support. We’re all in this together. (Hmm, the matchmaker in me wonders if the two of them should meet.)
As I’ve said before (Group Think) in the words of one of my favorite authors “Shared pain is lessened; shared joy is increased . . .” – Spider Robinson. We gather together to ease each other’s woes. And the flip side will be that we get to gather together to take the eventual celebration higher.
It is easy to envision the Occupy Movement as advocacy, but it may also be mutual commiseration. Everything is else is working. Why aren’t our institutions, especially in a represented democracy? That’s probably how most movements get started, a mutual gripe and support session grows until words result in action. Wars have been stopped that way. Presidents ousted. Star Trek was renewed be popular demand. That last one may not feel as consequential to non-geeks.
Yesterday had another head-banging moment. I paid my mortgage. Astute readers will note that it was the middle, not the end of the month. No, I wasn’t paying it two weeks early. In the kind words of the customer service person, I had a flawless record with them, and no, getting the payment in on the last day of the grace period wouldn’t change that. The mortgage was due October 31st. Dendreon was going to announce earnings in the first week of November. The stock (DNDN) had fallen from $42 to $38 to $18 to $12 while revenues were increasing. Surely the irrational market would see the new earnings and pop the stock back up to at least $18 or maybe its old values. It could happen. I’d rather wait for the earnings, sell the stock at a higher price and then pay the mortgage. Earnings were in. Earnings were up. The stock dropped to $7. Bang the head once. Take a breath. Surely the stock will recover somewhat. I gave it time to recover. Nope. When I finally sold I made sure there was enough time for the money to clear and for the check to get to mailed to the mortgage company on time. Oops. I forgot about Veterans Day closures. I’d cut things too close. Bang the head again. But I called the company, checked the details of when the money would flow and realized that I could sneak in by waiting just long enough and then overnighting the check. I’d never done anything like that before. It didn’t feel good; so, I laid my head down on the table.
With my head down, I was thankful that I had the money to pay the bill. I sold what I considered to be vastly undervalued stock to pay that bill and, unless book, photo, card, job or other revenues don’t come in soon, I’ll have to do it again for the rest of the bills, possibly by selling from within my IRA and paying the penalty for being 52. And I was thankful because I knew that others didn’t have that option. I danced with my money, shuffling some from this account to that, managing my expenses while maintaining optimism for my various projects, portfolio positions, and the opportunity for the universe to positively surprise me.
As the man said above, “…the rest of life is fine except for work and money”. The rest of life is fine. I live a frugal life. My lifestyle doesn’t change much with changes in wealth. The biggest changes are in repair and maintenance, with a few extra vacations thrown in. As another former millionaire agreed, having more than enough eases opening the mail. See a bill. Pay the bill. Then go back out to working in the garden or going on a bike ride. Need to fix something? Fix it, and enjoy the fix. What I miss most is being able to take on home projects by simply going to the hardware store, buying the materials, renting the equipment, and getting the job done. There’s a pencilled line on my wall waiting for the money to get the replacement appliance to be the cornerstone to a new kitchen. Thirty year old appliances are quaint but quirky, and I’m asking them to last a bit longer.
Last night’s dance was fun. I dance – I smile. No great introspection is required. Do and enjoy. Almost every Tuesday night a group of us get together to practice dancing. We’ve found a need for a place and a time to practice what we’ve learned in class without the pressure some feel at a dance. For $5 each, we conduct a weekly fundraiser for an historic dance hall, learn a little, play a little, exercise a lot, and have fun. I won’t work out in a gym for one or two hours, but I regularly dance for three hours. One aspect of social dancing, dancing with a partner for fun instead of competition or performance, is connection. After finally learning how not to trip, it’s easier to notice if someone is tense from a hard day, slack from a lack of enthusiasm, or relaxed and enjoying life. Dancers can help dance the pain away, and dance to celebrate what’s good about life.
Shared pain, shared joy, the dance we do with each other helps regardless of work and money. I think we all need to dance, and luckily, we all get to dance.