Last night I had dream. I dreamed that I wasn’t doing very good at work. I dreamed that when I came in my boss was if my office, and holding a small bottle of pills. He smiled sweetly and said, “Well, now I see why we’ve having a problem lately.” He handed me a bottle of Ritalin and explained in the way that only bosses can how much he cared about me as a person but ultimately had responsibility to the company, so couldn’t I please just take my pills? I started to bluster and then again as only a boss can, he got serious and said if I didn’t take it he would report me to the state health department for not taking my legally prescribed medication. Then I woke up, and wrote this poem.
There is a drug that I must take
To make me just like you
It kills the colors and shapes
And makes all things one hue
It takes away my valleys
But it takes away my highs
I never hated life so much
Till I saw it through your eyes
Why does it scare you
That can’t sit like a stone
How does it hurt you
When I do things on my own
Is it wrong to see music,
As it notes go by
Is it wrong to feel the wind
As I watch the birds fly?
You don’t care if I am well
You only want me normal
You kill my beauty with a spell
Just to make me normal
Ritalin, goes running through my veins
Ritalin makes everything the same
Ritalin I’d be angry if I was able
Ritalin I can’t fight you, I’m too stable.
I will not take my pills today
I have to much to see
I will not march these fields of gray
I will just be me
I’ll watch the colors of the shapes
And see what I can do
For I will give anything
For one more day
That I am not you.
Well, its another day. I still feel like I did yesterday, that is ridiculously happy and mildly alty. Its just fun to know where I am going after so many years. Wife and I are developing our ridiculous theory of how to succeed while doing as little as possible. After a few years when we are sure it works we are going to sell a book on it, its the sort of thing people want to know.
Here for you, patient reader, is my amazing system of wealth generation.
Humans have 4 basic needs.
And one big want: Play
Money is what we exchange for our time. We spend money/time to procure these things. I know the last one is sort of different for many people, but it is in fact a need. Most people try to achieve these 4 things through work. Work gives them the money which they spend on food, clothing, and shelter. They get their need for partnership met through the people they work with. God never promises easy life, so it shouldn’t realy shock anyone that we have to work to live. The problem is this: the vast vast portion of the incredible wealth that our society allows us to have is squandered either to get more money or to entertain us and make us feel better about not having enough money.
For instance (1.) Food. We work so we don’t have the time to raise our own food. We drive to the store, which takes our time. We buy the food, whose cost is controlled largely by how much it cost to transport. When we spend money we are really spending time. If I make $15/hr, every $15 of food I buy represents an hour of my life. If I spend 20min getting to the store 1 hr 20min in the store and 20min getting home, thats 2 hours. If I bought $60 worth of food (4 hrs) Then my little trip to the store just cost me 6 hours. Wow, maybe I could have a garden after all, if I spend 6 hours a week in the procurement of food anyway.
(2.) Clothing. What would I wear if I never had to wear clothes just for work (ok this doesn’t really apply to me, I wear AF BDUs but you know what I mean.) If I could just buy clothes for
me what would I wear? I have 3 kinds of clothes: casual, semi-formal, and formal. I have different ties and shoes for each set. What if I could just wear what I wanted, how much less would I spend?
(3) If I owned my own place, really owned it, paid off in full, how much money would I save? And why don’t I own my own place? Well, because I have to move a lot. Why? For work. See what I am saying, yes employment provides us with income but how much is it costing us? If I never had to buy gas to get to work, how much less gas/milage would go into my car? Would I even need a car?
(4.) Partnership. This is what meets our emotional needs. If we live on a desert island and we have no people to partner with, we partner with nature. It is the act of partnership that brings us the most and deepest satisfaction. The inverse of partnership is exploitation. The funny thing about exploitation is that it is as bad for the exploiter as the exploited. It is what a pastor I once knew called an illegal relationship. It corrupts. If a farmer exploits rather than partners with his land soon neither he nor his land will have anything, but partnership is what can make all participants wealthy. Exploitation bankrupts both sooner than later.
Noticeably absent from this list is Entertainment. Entertainment is what we do when number 4 is not being met. We entertain ourselves to distract us from a need not being met. I know some of my readers will freak out here and say “There is nothing wrong with having fun! All mammalian species practice non-survival essential behavior, usually defined as play!”
And you’re right. Play and entertainment are not interchangeable, however. Play is an active and creative process. Play may be story or toy driven (or both) but both involve active thought and or body movement. Entertainment, conversely, is passive and non-creative. Play flows from the mind out into the world. Entertainment flows from outside the mind and inward. Interestingly enough, leading research suggests that the more time people spend in play, such as making sculpture the happier they are. The more time they spend watching TV the less happy they are.
So all the above is including in our investment strategy. An investment strategy is how you chose to spend your life. EVERYONE has an investment strategy. Some people have poor ones, but everybody has one. (If you spend all your money on wine, women and song, for instance, that is a very poor and short term investment strategy, but it is one never the less.) Ours in based around the ideas above. We spend to buy ownership of those 4 things, so that any income we get can go into play.
Ownership is the other big principal we are shooting for. Our society focuses a lot on owning, but doesn’t really teach you what to own. Houses are a favorite. Most often called an investment, they aren’t nearly the investment most people make them out to be. If you take the value of a house and subtract all the ownership expenses (Property tax, loan interest, fire insurance, utility cost [ie how much more do the utilities cost for a single family home verses an apartment of the same square footage in the same area. Houses always use more.] increased milage/depreciation on car because house is farther from necessary exchanges such as work and markets) The house will still sell for boatload more money than you spent to get it. Until you factor in inflation. Then the gain on most houses is about 1%-3% compounded quarterly.
So, in case this somehow unclear, if 2 men both have the same amount of money to spend a month, and one gets a house for $150,000 and the other gets a $75,000 house and invests the remaining monthly income into savings bonds (on investment medium not exactly famous for high return). At the end of 5 years (or 10, 0r 30 etc.) the man with the cheap house will have significantly more money. (Yearly he is only getting 1.8%-3.8%, but that addition 0.8% interest is made more potent by the magic of compound interest. If he invested it in a good mutual fund (Like a Vanguard S&P Index) He wouldn’t be getting 3.8% he’d be getting 8.0%.
So, I am all for ownership, but just make sure that you are buying things that generate income.
Anyway, I have to save some secrets for the book, and this is long already.
After 14 hours on planes and in airports, I am home. Of course I am not me and my wife isn’t her.
Nearly 2 months we were apart, and its been incredible, though painful for both of us.
I believe that everyone has a person they are supposed to be within them and waiting to be revealed. The experiences we have trim away fat and leave the soul bare as we mature. Our soul becomes more of our identity. We become what it is that we are supposed to be
While I was gone I made peace with what I am, and having chosen to be what I am rather than try to be something else, I am stronger, and more me than I have ever been. I am an inventor. I have been since I was 3. I have tried to be something else for 26 years. In end, its fear and fear alone. Because it is ME I was afraid to be me. When you fail at being someone else it doesn’t hurt so much. But the fear of failing at that One Thing is terrifying. So I pretended to be what I am not rather than what I am for fear of failing and being mocked.
I turn my back on that. I am an inventor. I have reams of paper filled with drawing, ideas, thoughts, diagrams. I have a mind which doesn’t work like other peoples’. I am not going to fight to be like them or liked by them anymore. I’m not good at it, and it doesn’t make me happy. Having a job to do and inventing a new tool that helps me do it faster and easier gives me a rush. It gives me a rush like sex or drugs (I never taken street drugs. I have a dear friend and mentor who is a recovering heroin addict. So when I say “like drugs” I mean like drugs sound.) It makes me happy. When I am in front of a blank piece of paper, a precision lathe , or a bare engine block, my world comes down to a single vision of what must be done. What I look like doesn’t matter. What others think doesn’t matter. I don’t feel hunger, thirst, the need for sleep, its all so much noise. All the exists is a physical reality to be altered. And unlike people, physics won’t be B.S.ed. You cannot emotionally manipulate an engine to run without a head. It will not run better for you if you compliment it. It will not be moved by your pleas, it will run when certain laws of physics and engine design are followed. To the degree that you follow those laws the engine will thrive. If you chose to ignore the laws it will run poorly, when it runs at all. Design implemented well moves me. I can see it in bridges, in lenses, in glass of a bottle and the cooling towers of a power plant. All over the world there are designs to be seen. Bridges carrying 100 tons on a single cable. I want to touch that cable, to run my hands over the steel and feel the mind of someone like me.
I buy electricity everyday to run my small piece of the world. I want to stand in the presence of the turbines. I want to feel the floor shake as a thousand tons of steam is turned effortlessly into megawatts of power. I want to see Parson in my minds eye, drawing the curves of the turbines’ blades on parchment. I want to see him go through the differential equations by hand in the light of a gas lamp. Think my thoughts after him, see his visions in brass and carbon steel. The world tells me to have a house payment, watch football, pay taxes. “Stand in line, shut your mind, and open your mouth” is the motto of the world. I can’t, I won’t, and I won’t pretend to.
But I am madman. I don’t expect these thoughts to comfort others. People are most often disturbed, if they say anything at all. As I turned to my invention notebook to deal with the loneliness of being without my wife, my wife turned to writing. She’s written everyday since I left. Stories, blogs, letters, and she found something she loved. She found that when she writes she feels what I feel. The insipid whining of “pop culture” goes silent. The madness of trying to be what other want you to be grows dim, the disapproving stares stop mattering. In short, like me, she too found a reason to be, besides being commanded.
When I saw her across the airport, I knew something was different. She was more beautiful than I had ever seen. Not the usual – haven’- seen-you-in-2-months pretty. Beautiful like a painting. Haunting inner beauty that makes you want to poses her. Later, after putting our daughter to bed I sat on the couch with her, looking at her eyes and wondering what was this other worldly beauty that had taken hold of her. I and suddenly I knew. For nearly 7 years I have told my wife she was a beautiful woman. But this was the first time she had ever believed she was beautiful. She looks in the mirror and sees what I see. She truly believes she is beautiful. Having found and done what makes her happy, she is confident in herself from the inside out. Her femininity graces her. Every move she makes is suddenly right. Like a foal learning to run suddenly she can run like the wind.
We spoke for hours and she told me she doesn’t care about the picket fence anymore. She won’t sacrifice her life to the two faced goddess of June Cleaver-Pamela Lee Anderson. She wants to live. Really live. Turn her back on fear, and being feared, and do what she wants to do. She wants to travel, she wants write, get more piercings, be tattooed, raise our daughter, and be the loving wife of the madman.
Its potent, this love. Its heady and breath taking. I’ve recognized over the last 2 years or so that the I wanted to face my fears. (Its one of the main reasons I joined the profession of arms.) But it started to cost us very early. 2 dear friends departed. In their own gently befuddled way they told us… “your not one of us anymore, but its not to late. You can repent.” We’re 2500mi from our families. As the light in our eyes gets brighter, loved ones turn away.
Through it all, I was willing to lay down my vision to keep my wife. She is half my soul, and I can no more turn my back on her than I could cut of my hand with the same hand that holds the knife. And to find that over these eight weeks, she faced what I faced. She found the little bit of fire in her soul and fanned the flames. On her own away from me, she found her own vision. She defined her own value, cut away the dross and made herself true steel.
It makes me want her more. Her soul, her body, all of it. I think most marriages are two people saying “You, be with me, mix your gold with my silver.” I know ours was once, but not anymore. She is pure gold and she knows it. I am gold and I know it. We aren’t together because we are afraid to be alone, or partnered together because we fear the world. We are united by the fact that we don’t fear the world or fear being feared. Together we strong as steel and more valuable than gold. We partner to make more gold, not to make alloy.
I graduated tech school today. First thing I have graduated since 1999. It was a big day. I got several little peices of paper and small silver crest to wear with my dress blues. I got Top graduate (highest score of all.) I was thumbed on the back, hand shook, and high fived. I was made to smile and salute. Seriously, it was all pretty nice…
But the moment for me, the real moment, probably went unnoticed by anyone else. Its something that, regardless of anything that ever happens, is mine to keep. One of my wingmen came up to me and handed me his crest. He said “Walker, I want you to be the one who pins this on me. You earned it. I woundn’t have made it without you.” And I smiled. And alone in my room, I cried. Its hard to be a good man, its a fight oten as not. Today, I was glad I fought. I thanked God for keeping me and my wingmen out of trouble, and asked to help me not get cocky about it.
I wish the Church could accept a pastor who serves people by fixing their cars and rewiring their garages and helping them do their homework, but sadly the church is not interested in helping people, unless they are somehow a sexy project. Naked brown people are good, the unwed pregnant daughter of a missionary is rejected (Perhaps if she had been an ethnic intercity teen, someone would have given a damn, but for a pretty suburbanite? No one cares. Giving your money to the Church to redistribute as She sees fit is “partnering in ministry” fixing someones car so they can go to work and continue to feed their family? No one cares. But ah if you can talk, if you can open a book and say pretty things, and cry when it is appropriate, or if you can pick up an intrument and smile while you play, when then you are really “spiritual”, and deserve to be on the “clergy” side instead of the “lay” side.
Its tragic, really. The church is just like every other human institution. There are basically 2 kinds of people in the world. Those who own, and those who rent. Those who own make their living on the backs of those who rent. If you live in an apartment for 30 years do you know what you own at the end? Nothing. Absolutely Nothing. In business we call them “stock holders” and “employees”. In real estate “Landlords” and “tennants”. And in the church we call them “Ministers/worship leaders/pastors” and “congregation/church goers/ministry partners” but in the end the relationship is the same: You pay me, and I will give you things that you are convinced you need, but in the end I will still be here and you will own nothing. After tithing to a Church for ten years, what do you have? Do you even know the faces of the poeple your money is supposed to be helping? If you did it yourself, you would own something: CHILDREN. You would have spiritual children growing and maturing, meeting others, and disciplining disciples of their own. Instead, the church whores us for our money. They tell us we are ministry partners, they take our life (money, if your recal is how we are paid for the time we spend, and that time is 1/2 to 1/3 of our very lives) Then that nice pastor who took the money? He gets every benefit. He gets the warm fuzzies, the thrill of “fixing” someone, the recognition the respect. But thats not enough. You will pay for his house, his childrens braces, his wife’s clothes. You will pay and pay and pay. And in the end have nothing. Maybe if you brown nose him enough he will make you like him and he will like you. You won’t have to work for a living either, just spend time talking with people all day. Do you play an instrument? Can you do sales pitches? Good Good Good. You like to work with you hands and help people face to face? You need to mature some… maybe you should take some theology course, after all what good is Truth if everyone can understand it. Yes, take some college courses, wear a tie and maybe we will let you into the really spiritual people club.
Do I sound bitter? I’m not. Its just today the airforce gave me something the church would not. It let me be responsible for 9 people. And we got the highest class average the school has ever seen. Every compliment (and insult, though that is a subject for another time) was MINE. We all did great, left better than we came in, and exceded all expectations.
Sigh. Anyway, I miss my wife and daughter. 58 hrs my loves. I will be in your arms and you in mine. For a brief moment at least, all will be right with the world.
I leave Sierra Alpha Foxtrot Bravo in 6 fraggin’ days! Soon my mad rambling will again fill the ‘net. Thanks all for you patience, and I can’t wait to tell you all the bizarre insight I’ve gained here, and how it is going to help me take over the world! Notes for you all:
James: You rock. Thanks for opening a whole world to me. May the winds of adversity never blow open your kimono. After I take over the world, I am making you Csar of Greater Asia Co-prosperity sphere.
Nana: You are one of my heroes. Keep fighting the good fight.
CC: I never knew how solid gold you are till lately.
River: Some ride, we rowed. When I get the leave, we will do it again.
Becky: This is a family blog, so I can’t say whats on my heart, but lets just say I hope airport security is open minded and not easly offended. XOXO