Well, I won’t be mowing a lawn tonight. Life’s too busy. Work’s too busy. Well, work’s busy, not busy enough, but too busy for most of what I call life, including even mowing my own lawn. The rest of life is wedged into what’s left. My schedule is a bit dense, but good things are happening. We’re heading in the right direction. Yet, there are concerns. I have them. We have them. I think we’ll work through them. One handy tool: uninterrupted momentum.
Hmm, concerns along the way sounds like any journey prior to reaching its destination. I’ve been there when I bicycled across America. I’ve been there when I walked across Scotland. I guess I’m there as I make my way through my financial turmoil. Here it is, 5pm as I begin typing, and I’m wondering how far I’ll get in work today, and where my bicycle and I will be at sunset tonight. (Glad I packed a light and a reflective vest.)
We hear the wisdom that, “It isn’t about the destination. It’s about the journey.”; yet, we spend a lot of time planning as if we’ll reach the goal by aiming at it. Chaining ourselves to a target is unnecessarily constraining. Being totally unshackled from any plan or structure isn’t necessarily better because lives can wander into mazes and quagmires. Standing in one place doesn’t work either. Time makes sure that our selves, our place, and our environment change even if we try to lock everything into place.
I named my first book, Just Keep Pedaling, because that was the mantra that got me across America. I didn’t invoke it until I was climbing Cabbage Hill east of Pendleton, OR. A two thousand foot climb. I had to look it up just now because I never looked it up back then. I knew I had to climb it, so knowing it was there was the only thing I needed to know. Part way up, when it was apparent that I was going to be in low gear for a long time, the simple realization came to mind that, as long as I kept pedaling eventually I’d reach the top. Truckers and cars gave me thumbs ups and encouraging honks. And, of course, I made it. I got to the top, celebrated by trying to call home, and then got back on the bicycle because I had tens of miles to go to find a place to stay.
Scotland was the same. (Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland) I almost used the title, “Just Keep Walking”, but that didn’t add much to the message. Besides, it was fun adding “Drinking” into the title, while also slipping in the more important “Thinking”. Most importantly, I was really “Feeling” my way across Scotland, but feeling has too many connotations. I was exploring my emotions, but others would probably put Drinking and Feeling together into an image of a drunkard’s marathon pub crawl.
Making progress is easy when we are “cruising along”, “rolling down the road”, enjoying “smooth sailing”. It is too easy for troubles to “stop us in our tracks”. The trick is to acknowledge the interruption, decide if it will happen again and if there is any way to avoid it, and to then move on.
Too many people were permanently traumatized by the Great Depression. Most of the personal financial recoveries took years. Many took decades. Not everyone recovered. That’s especially true emotionally. Coping strategies can persist far longer than they are required, and engrain habits that were useful and powerful but eventually anachronistic. I’m guarding myself against that possibility.
My financial turmoil continues, largely because of my mortgage. My business has picked up enough to handle almost all of the bills for a frugal lifestyle that includes significant deferred maintenance, but it has to almost double to handle the mortgage. Even if my home is sold at the price I’ve set, housing will continue to be an unmet cost. Yet, hope and optimism find fertile ground within me.
My Triple Whammy stopped me in my tracks for a day or so, but fortunately I had already built some momentum from my work as a writer and a photographer, and as a growing presence within speaking, teaching, and consulting. For the last two years I’ve used intuition and opportunity to steer and increase my momentum. Maybe a job will arise that dramatically improves my situation. Maybe my portfolio recovers soon. Maybe unexpected serendipity will arrive. Windfalls happen.
Various potential catalysts have passed as I’ve progressed. MicroVision‘s possibilities have gone from events scattered over years to possibilities every few weeks. Yet, we just passed three of them in the last week without a potential being realized. Jobs appear on the horizon and, at least so far, each has passed on to someone else. I look ahead and see more on the horizon, and wonder about some announcements that may be imminent.
I feel the same thing is happening in society. We’ve been hit with traumas and upsets. Institutions have imploded. And yet, while some unhealthy practices continue, many people are putting energy into seemingly sidelined efforts that somehow manage to maintain and increase momentum.
As you watch this story unfold, neither you nor I know if it will reach an abrupt climax, or if it will continue to improve undramatically, or if – well, nah there’s no benefit to imagining and energizing the downside. That line is true of me and our society. The only way for us to progress is to maintain our momentum. I’m not talking about progress for the sake of progress, which carries the connotation of industrialization and globalization; but progress in more of us enjoying our positive acts of living within our means and finding new ways to sustainably thrive.
It’s not quite 6pm yet. (First draft at about 1,100 words in less than an hour. Talk about momentum.) My momentum for the day is about to shift gears. One way I’ve been living closer to my means is to commute by bicycle, the same bicycle I used to cross America. (A 22 year old Trek mountain bike. It has its own version of momentum.) As I ride my way home, I keep in mind that maintaining my momentum isn’t just about work or money; it is also about enjoying life. People travel from around the world to tour Whidbey by bicycle. What some consider a sign of financial constraint I consider a fine, positive thing to do. I rode this bicycle as a millionaire. I ride this bicycle as an entrepreneur, artist, and person who is happy to be alive. I won’t interrupt that momentum.