Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Thanksgiving: Five Things I Am Thankful For

A Thanksgiving offering: five things I'm grateful for.

My wife suggested I write down five things I'm grateful for today, and I offer that as a suggestion to you. There is a power in the written word which is not accessible to the spoken word.

Writing down what we're sincerely grateful for is an act of truth--and truth may well be the unspoken essential for all gratitude.

It's always tempting to veer into pontificating when listing one's gratitudes ("I'm grateful for black holes, corn bread, cordless drills, Les Paul and Bertrand Russell..."). Few would have the sincerity to be honest about the gratitudes we actually experience--for instance, "I'm grateful for the NFL and the memory of watching Dwight Clark make The Catch."

For those who don't understand this as something to be grateful for--it's a mystical thing.

As important as small gratitudes are in our daily struggle against futility and ennui, it's also a worthy exercise to ground ourselves occasionally in what gives our lives meaning and purpose: the bedrock of happiness and a life well-lived.

Without a lot of forethought, here is my list of five things I'm thankful for. I guess it reflects the preoccupations of my daily life, which revolves around this weblog, my writing, shoring up my health and our uncertain and possibly troubled future.

1. I am thankful for the World Wide Web and the Constitutional right to freedom of speech, which enables us to share our thoughts, emotions, ideas and information without interference (generally speaking) from oppressive authorities. This freedom to exchange ideas and experiences, what works and what doesn't, is the foundation of my hope for the future. This weblog is my small contribution to this infinitely complex process.

2. I am grateful for the opportunity to fashion what I call hybrid work, a life that draws purpose and meaning from a variety of projects and work, some paid, some unpaid, some compensated by value other than money.

In Survival+, I call this goal radical self-reliance.

I wouldn't be much of an advocate for hybrid work if I had a corporate monoculture job (i.e. one specialized skill, one employer, and thus a very high level of vulnerability to disruption). It's taken a long time to develop multiple sources of (modest) income and purpose, but it's been worth it.

3. Since a substantial part of my livelihood comes from being paid to write and from reader contributions, I am also very grateful to you, dear Reader, for investing your time in visiting this outpost on the Web and for reading my other work. Without readers, a writer has little to offer in terms of value.

4. Since I espouse an integrated understanding of our plight, then health is a key thread running through my life, and so naturally I am grateful for the health I have at 60 years of age. It is something that requires responsibility and work; I have a bunch of bad genes working against me as well as "carpenter's elbow" and a host of other consequences of lifting too much stuff over the decades. But I really am grateful for what I've got in the way of health; it is amazing that the body is designed to rejuvenate itself if given half a chance.

At this point, the urge to choose some daily gratitude is strong (red wine? Oranges? Natural gas?) just to avoid the dreaded state of pontification, but--

5. I am grateful to be alive now, when the industrialized world is poised to transition, whether it wants to or not, to another way of living/consuming/working. It may well play out badly, but perhaps not. The lifestyle that requires hundreds of barrels of oil (or equivalent) per person per year is certainly coming to an end, but a good life need not require hundreds of barrels of oil per year.

Nobody knows how the future will play out, so we will all play it as it lays. (The fancier phrase: Life is contingent.) That's pretty exciting.

What am I grateful for, in one line? Opportunity, openness, sharing, knowledge and failure, for without failure we learn little.

I wish you all a safe, peaceful Thanksgiving.

Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy(Kindle, $9.95)(print, $20)
go to Kindle editionAre you like me? Ever since my first summer job decades ago, I've been chasing financial security. Not win-the-lottery, Bill Gates riches (although it would be nice!), but simply a feeling of financial control. I want my financial worries to if not disappear at least be manageable and comprehensible.And like most of you, the way I've moved toward my goal has always hinged not just on having a job but a career.

You don't have to be a financial blogger to know that "having a job" and "having a career" do not mean the same thing today as they did when I first started swinging a hammer for a paycheck.

Even the basic concept "getting a job" has changed so radically that jobs--getting and keeping them, and the perceived lack of them--is the number one financial topic among friends, family and for that matter, complete strangers.

So I sat down and wrote this book: Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.

It details everything I've verified about employment and the economy, and lays out an action plan to get you employed.

I am proud of this book. It is the culmination of both my practical work experiences and my financial analysis, and it is a useful, practical, and clarifying read.

Test drive the first section and see for yourself.     Kindle, $9.95     print, $20

"I want to thank you for creating your book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy. It is rare to find a person with a mind like yours, who can take a holistic systems view of things without being captured by specific perspectives or agendas. Your contribution to humanity is much appreciated."

Laura Y.
Gordon Long and I discuss The New Nature of Work: Jobs, Occupations & Careers(25 minutes, YouTube) 

NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Michael K. ($20), for your remarkably generous contribution to this site-- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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