This may not be worthy of posting on a blog (what is worthy of posting on blogs, anyway), but my hope is that writing something—anything—will help me clear the system and find my motivation again. I have been in quite a slump lately and don’t feel like working or playing very hard. I know my energy and enthusiasm tend to go in cycles, but lately it seems that the cycles are coming closer together, and the highs are not quite as high as I remember them in the past. I get discouraged more easily. I break promises to myself. I ask myself what it’s all worth. I waste entire days going through junk mail or deleting emails.
I think a lot about retiring, and sometimes I even manage to convince myself that if I didn’t have to spend 40 hours a week at a paid job, then I would have more time and energy to do something important. Though what that might be, I’m not sure. I used to think education was important, so my job in online course development was satisfying enough, but lately everything seems like a big money-making scheme, higher education included, so I find myself disgruntled and wanting to get out and do something more satisfying and worthwhile. Of course, if I were to seriously consider retiring, there’s that issue of how to pay for health insurance and the very real fear that my modest retirement savings could vanish in the blink of an eye.
To try to counteract my downward slide, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time researching organizations that work on issues I care about—the environment, child protection, health, human rights, hunger, international relief and development, public policy—and I’ve been reading reports on various charities by Charity Watch, Charity Navigator, and Better Business Bureau. My thinking is that since I have limited amounts of time and money to donate to worthy causes, I should try to give to organizations that use their resources wisely to do good deeds, so I have been focusing on those organizations that spend at least 75% on direct program expenses and don’t spend excessive amounts on fundraising and administrative costs. But I don’t know how to think about chief executives and presidents who make over $350,000 a year directing charitable organizations. Of course, even that amount, which sounds outrageous to me, is a drop in the bucket compared to the $13.2 million compensation package that went to the president of Goldman Sachs in 2010. Such discrepancies make me physically ill.
I am so glad to see the Occupy movement growing as it has in a little more than two months and hope they are successful in “fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process” and shining a bright light on “the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.” In recent years I had wondered why people weren’t out in the streets protesting, so I’m glad to see some change in the public discourse. I am fascinated by their process of decision making through the “people’s assemblies” and the presence of so many creative individuals working together to change the current paradigm. I wish them well. I hope we all have the courage and the stamina to resist “the factual ignorance, misinterpretations, bad advice, lies, and outright villainy of the uprising’s various critics,” as described in the Hightower Lowdown. Not to mention the police brutality and other crackdowns that have occurred in too many places. I don’t know what to think now that so many cities, including my own, have cleared their parks and public spaces of the Occupiers, but I hope the people’s assemblies are meeting to plan how best to keep their message in plain view for all to see.
I have also been trying to inspire myself by reading stories about people who are finding ways to live better on less money, as they downsize; reduce their carbon footprints; start their own businesses; engage in DIY projects; support each other in challenging times; rebuild relationships with friends, family, and community; learn to live sustainably; reclaim time; do things that matter. I subscribe to several progressive magazines, most of which tend to depress me with the facts and make me think we are all going to hell in a handbasket, but when I want to remind myself of the power of people to bring about important change and to work toward practical solutions to important problems, I turn to Yes Magazine.
My last strategy is to challenge myself to get out and take a walk. I have the whole day off, and it’s above 50 degrees out, so I really have no excuse whatsoever. Being outside almost always makes me feel better, although I continually forget that fact.