Downward Economy vs. Downward Dog

“Seems reasonable in general, but plenty of people are fighting for dear life, financially, not doing yoga.”

The above statement was a reaction someone had on facebook after reading the recent post on time management, which ironically focused entirely on the challenge many artists face in trying to make their art and rent. Also, of the many tips, none of them recommended yoga. The guest writer just happened to be an avid practitioner. Nothing wrong with that… Or, is there???

Wait a minute! Is yoga the antithesis to artist survival? Is yoga why people can’t make a buck in this world? Should the next Occupy or Tea Party protest happen at a Bikram studio???

The Health-Wealth Connection

I realize, given the (antiquated) artist vs. athlete polarity, many creatives and intellectuals might like to pretend their bodies bear no consequence on their brilliance. That, of course, is ridiculous. Ree-dik-cue-luss. So ridiculous. There is a lot of scientific data to back up what most of us already know intuitively. That life’s strains, like financial hardship, have a direct impact on us physiologically. And vice versa. Can doing a good job, finding new work, or creative problem-solving be accomplished any better drudging through the effects of a cold, flu, ulcer, migraine, fatigue, or anxiety? …NOT!

Pace Yourself For Twelve Rounds

It’s also possible that “fighting for dear life” may itself be flawed. A one-dimensional tactic, a vicious cycle of urgency and onslaught of stress hormones breaking apart the very tools needed to unstick oneself from the bog.

Situations like this are analogous to managing an injury. After, say, a car accident, sure, there are dire steps to be taken immediately: call 911, stop the bleeding, apply pressure, clean the wound, stitch it, bandage it, and so on. But what about the long run? Equally high-priority actions might include: physical therapy, preventative care, wearing your seat belt, fixing your brake lights, and taking a defensive driving course. Are these latter activities to be considered luxurious? Superfluous? Trivial? Again… Not!

In the 1950’s and 60’s when Black Americans were suffering atrocities across the country, and some took to marching while others took to arms, a woman named Septima Clark set up schools in Alabama where people were taught how to read and write. This education gave people a sense of transformation, power, dignity, hope, and humanness. And made it possible to pass the literacy tests for voting. During such a brutal era, isn’t gathering around kitchens, beauty parlors, and under the shade of trees, where the Clark schools were held, something of a waste of time, a privilege, and a bunch of nonsense? You know the answer but say it with me anyway, one more time, for fun… Not!!!

For this reason, I have a tough time trusting the instincts of people who live in a constant state of emergency. Their hysteria tends to result in flailing uncontrollably in quicksand, making high risk gambles for short term gains, repeating unnecessary errors, and in the worst cases, conjuring enemies – even of people who should otherwise be allies.

Defining Real Hustle

To be a true problem solver, a.k.a. hustler, is to give equal priority to both short- and long-term strategy. To be nimble enough to react to pressing issues. And to have the good sense to see two or three moves ahead of crisis. To act with rigor. And to build a plan for lasting prosperity – not just to get through the next month. “If I can only get through the next month, everything will be fine…” Yeah, right. No doubt, owning a loaf of bread is good. Owning a bakery, however, would be far better. If you want to take control of your life, your finances, your career, and your relationships, be prepared to do both.

Living Scrappy

Ready for my confession? When I hit rock bottom in my job search a few years ago, I had to make some very real choices in order to save and make a little bit of money. I got cheap, I got lean, and in some cases — forgive the expression — I got downright ghetto. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. Read some of my Baller on a Budget posts. I killed my phone line, made cuts to bus fare, and I even saved coins! Now, check this out. Rather than turning on the heaters in my place, I opened the curtains in the morning to draw warmth from the sunshine and did my laundry in the evening so that running the dryer can raise the temperature after sunset. I sold my CDs and vinyl collection, I sold some of my furniture, and I sold my TV. Did it work? Heck yeah, it worked. Trust me, you’re talking to a dude that knows how to scrap. I have the discipline and I am proud to be able to claim that I’ve knuckled up against losing odds and beat them down. (I have since acquired new furniture, by the way.)

Looking Ahead

But I didn’t find full-time employment for two years! How many trips can a guy make to Amoeba Records to sell discs? How many coins can a guy save to make some major progress? Real talk, not a lot. Eventually, I knew I would have to learn how to “read and write”. I would have to establish a “bakery”. It is counter-intuitive to spend cash when you haven’t any. This is true – given one provision! Your investments in time and money MUST have the ability to multiply. I bought books on professional development, I bought a web hosting package, and I bought sound equipment. I risked rejection and offered my services in copy writing, copy editing, teaching, facilitation, and coaching, until I could identify my winning formulas. I spent hours on the web, not surfing gossip and entertainment, but studying service professionals, informative lectures, and new tools. I built a blog, I built a podcast series, and ultimately, I built a small business, one that delivers value, runs on ethical principles, generates income, and oh yeah, helped me land my current day gig.

Look, I am no yogi. So, I am not here to defend or promote yoga, but I can say that while I was scrambling to make a dollar, I also made it a point to exercise semi-regularly. To clear my head, relieve my stress, and fortify my will power, I went for occasional bike rides and runs, I would visit the rock climbing gym, and I would sit quietly for brief meditations. Your most vital of resources are your mind, body, and soul. Without these, consider your game over. Along with your economic engine, invest equally in your mental and physical fitness. Often times, you’ll find you needn’t the picturesque backdrop to get a good workout or even any additional funds to do so.

The Critical Difference Between Sight And Vision

Those with narrow outlooks might interpret these maneuvers as extravagant, misguided, or even traitorous. And I would like to confirm what you may suspect about such persons: That they’re full of sh**. I say that with love of course, as much as possible anyway. Sure, there might be nicer ways to express it but I don’t know that being deterred from prioritizing your health, longevity, and financial mobility is nice either.

There is a difference between sight and vision. Just because you can see, it doesn’t mean you have perspective. Anyone can complain, panic, and react to what is “reality”. It takes calm, humility, self analysis, intellectual curiosity, imagination, and commitment to create what can become reality. Yes, I say, hustle. Be shameless in your agility and adaptability. And be more so when people mock you for wanting to grow wheat, roll dough, stack bricks, gather kindling, and spark tinder. The untrained eye will see these as individual steps, all of them useless. You, however, will know you’ve deliberately crafted a series of actions, each connected to another, to ultimately lead to the creation of your very own bakery. Take ownership and pride in that.

And bon appetit!


POST SCRIPT: Wouldn’t ya know it – People fighting for dear life, financially, are doing yoga! Oops. Check out this inspiring video to learn about a nonprofit serving Baltimore inner-city youth in this special way.

(Also, to clarify, I don’t have any beef whatsoever with the person I quoted at the top of this post. I don’t even know who he is. I just thought it was a perfect springboard to talk about a topic that I’m clearly very passionate about and that I think is very important for people to consider. To quote Fleetwood Mac, You can go your own waaaaaay.)

Please comment, share, and have an amazing day!

 
 

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2 responses to “Downward Economy vs. Downward Dog”

  1. Bhushan says:

    This was a very insightful read. Loved the distinction between sight and vision. Thanks for sharing your incredible journey and tips we should all learn from.

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