Fortune before the Fortune Cookie

5 12 2009

Financially speaking, 2009 has been a pretty brutal year at our house.

Last year, I cut my business to devote more time to writing.  This year, those clients I kept slashed fees…and, repeatedly, skipped or delayed payments.  For the second year in a row, family “stuff” required multiple trips back to Texas…and multiple withdrawals from checking and savings accounts.

For the most part, we’ve stared down the creeping fear that comes from being on a financial cliff (or is it off?!) by reminding ourselves that dreams don’t become reality without sacrifice. That and acknowledging that you can only have so many $200 dinners before they start to taste like, well, dinner!

But fear did get the best of me the other night.  I had just ordered Chinese food  ($20 is the new $200!) when a family member called.  We hadn’t chatted in awhile and , for some reason, I soon found myself laying out  the harsh realities of our financial situation.

“I’m so sorry,” she said.  “I’m soooooo sorry.” (As if I didn’t get it the first time!)

“It’s fine, really.”  I responded the first time, as I felt the first stirrings of Fear awakening deep in the pit of my stomach.

“I’m so sorry,” she repeated.  Fear, meet Failure.

“Everything will work out fine,” I said.  Fear and Failure were building an army by now.

“Well, I hope so.  It must be so upsetting to see everything you worked for disappear.”

“I’m actually quite calm,” I lied because, by this time, the allied forces were barreling down my soul with one target in mind:  Courage.

I hung up the phone and covered myself in a warm blanket of Doubt while I waited for a very stiff martini to numb what was sure to be a crushing blow.

And then the doorbell rang.

It was the Chinese food, delivered by a central casting delivery man.  Not a college kid trying to earn a few extra bucks, but an adult trying to feed his family.

As I went to pay him, I tried to pay forward some of that Fear I had.  “How are your holidays going?” I asked.  “It’s a tough year.”

“Yeah,” he said.  “But, hey man, at least we’re living!”

It was the first time I received my fortune before I had even eaten my Chinese food!

“F*%k you,” I promptly told Fear and Failure and the army they rode in on.

Maybe our household was failing by the standards  money or labels or status.  Or security.

But, what the hell?

Not to get too “Lifetime moment” here, but you can’t take any of those things with you.

Did my husband and I want to cloak ourselves in those things society tells us equal success…or did we want to venture out, beyond where the safety net reaches, and create our own definition?

To paraphrase a Zen buddhist I love, did we want to pretend that the plane of life was just a bus?  Ignoring its wings and just taxiing from destination to destination?

Hell no.

Baby, this bird’s got wings.  And we’re taking off.

We may or may not make it…but, hey man, at least we’re living!




2 responses

7 12 2009

Girl i’ve spent it all the way down… and no job in sight … for the last 5 years i lived in a constant state of fear over money – and getting old w/out it – and no health care … but it was some much more important to my path and the spiritual awakening and awareness … which ironically as it turns out was about knowing and understanding the power of fear – and how much fear is ingrained in us from purgatory to judgment to being poor in a greedy world. As i transition into who I am w/out the fear controlling my being I let go of the motivations that steered my life before… and as windows and doors magically appear – i believe more and more in my faith in this path. Doubt lingers and it doesn’t take a second for a friend or mother to turn jubilation over a spiritual breakthrough into a money issue. But that is their living in the fear and doubt we are trying to escape. Over the last six months, i gave up my fancy status-symbol apartment finally, moving into a 1 bedroom apartment with my bf and 1 full-time 19 yr old dancer, and one other 14 year old dancer – who he sponsors in that little space. He sends money home to pay for his family’s apartment, buys himself almost nothing ever. I gave up the piano, and for a while Sam – my dog – as i felt it all ripped away from me – the only thing that kept me sane was knowing that i was on the path and that this was part of the process of relinguishing attachment. We finally – after a torturous search – found a new apart for $1195 right across from a huge natural-forest park IN Manhattan!!!?!?!!. I kept thinking: i need sam back – and room for her to run in a park, all for 1100. I put it out there, i kept looking. Time and time again fear attacked – but Giovanni held the ground – and i felt my resentment growing at him – and each time – it was a signal I had to regroup around my fear – instinct to grab at something just to have it – the relationship tearing apart – I HAD to go save myself. One day the fear was ragging in my heart, and at calmer moments, the doubt of the convictions that got me through the fear took over – the doubt … the opposite of faith …. so I followed the fear and doubt .. flowed it… to find its many sources. The most dramatic was the realization that I grew up in a state of constant fear – as the victim of child abuse by my older brother – who tortured me constantly. I know feel I have confronted the greatest source of my fear – of which i was clearly in denial – for our family had created a system of denial – of holding together false peace – my mother manipulating with the best of intentions to keep peace in the house hold between my older brother and everyone else. We lived in constant fear of his emotional abuse. That fear sent me to be a lawyer, have a big fancy apartment, take care of myself at all costs, never have a trusting relationship, being socially a wreck, and thinking money was the way out and salvation as my mother believed when she left us alone with him to go work. I now see her fear in every word she says – I used to chaffe at her “will this lead to a job” – or “you have to stop working for free” every time I did anything during this path – and now I see she is trapped in fear too. We all are. Fear not.

2 01 2010

Thanks for the blogpost!!

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