Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Meaning of Being Broke, Not Poor.

The difference between a man with no money and somebody who has money is simple. The man without money thinks of the simple things he wants to buy, and in doing so experiences much greater joy in achieving seemingly minute goals. The man who has money can only think of things he can't afford to buy. He pays no attention to the little things and misses the forest through the trees. These larger goals may come with time but result in a lower level gratification for the reward.

When you have no money, you usually have a good amount of time. It is crucial that you fill this time with as much enjoyable activity as possible. It is preferred that these activities are not self destructive, but that is not a requirement. Normally, with a lack of funds you also have a lack of access to self destructive things. If you still have money for those things, but think you are broke, you are not.

(This next paragraph will sound bleak, but it's a positive read. I promise.)
Sadly, not having money is a lot like being in prison; tons of time, very little freedom and boredom is your absolute mortal enemy. Boredom slows the clock down to something that's not natural. If it were just elongating the seconds, minuets and hours it would be tolerable. Yet the time becomes something painful when it's that slow. To be trapped in your mind as the flow of time is fighting against you- no matter which direction you go- feels like hell. Here are the best survival methods for 'you got time but ain't got the money' syndrome.

5. Reading
There is no monster waiting in the book. Do it.
This is the obvious one. If you don't have a library card, you can usually still hang out in them (plus, air conditioning). Pick up a book you've always wanted to read and just chug through it. If you can't think of a book you've always wanted to read, find a book you once read (ever, seriously. I don't care if it's 'The Outsiders' nobody is *looking at what you're reading). Maybe you liked it, maybe not. Read it again. If it holds water, look up another book by the author and give that a shot.

 If you're thinking to yourself that you're out of 'books you've always wanted to read' than you're already a reader and you're being snotty. Stop it.

4. Practice
Pancakes. I read this an immediately
thought pancakes.
Something, anything, look up a card trick. Dust the guitar off. Try some weird skill you're no good at (and doesn't require a start up cost) and keep going till you've got the hang of it. Then make it your own. Put your own twist on something. Not everything original has been done, you could be onto something new. I would put this at number one with 'Play an Instrument' but that might require money if you don't have one. A lot of artists and musicians are more than willing to teach and let you practice on their gear (most, not all).

3. Use a notebook
You don't have to decorate the cover like
a middle-school girl, but bonus points if you do
You can do just about anything with pen and paper; doodling, journaling, drawing a comic, sketching out a city in streets, list making (what are you gonna buy when you get five dollars? I'm thinking toothpaste that doesn't taste like fake mint soap and also meat), it could be anything!

2. Write a Blog
Yeah, really putting a lot of effort into this one. If I can write one about all the mundane jazz I've done while broke, you can write one about anything.

One foot in front of the other
and soon you wont be so bored.
1. Walking
When I speak on the topic of waking for leisure, or extra pedestrian activities, I have a hard time not sounding like an unnecessary hype man (SERIOUSLY, THIS IS THE SHIT. THIS IS WHAT'S UP. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. DO YOU EVEN WALK, BRO?). I was a walker in the wintertime out of necessity and come spring it was downright enjoyable. It's not killer exercise but that's the best part. You don't have to condition up to it, the recovery is minimal and it's pretty hard to hurt yourself doing it (despite that remark, I have managed to many a time).

That being said, it's not even about the exercise. The movement? Maybe, but it is the slowly changing scenery that is important. You get to notice a hell of a lot more when you're on foot. You notice things you get used to blocking out as you drive. If you're daring enough, you actually look people in the eye and say hello (don't expect a very warm response from many, your cheery disposition is shared by few). You essentially get a real feel for what constructs the neighborhood around you. That vibe is constructed by things you miss. You assemble an opinion based on the pattern of buildings and business's that fly by and that is only shorting yourself.

You'll notice TV is not on the list, it does kill time but I've never had the attention span for it. Six would obviously be 'look for work.' This however should be a passive skill that you are always working on. From first draft to publishing, I found a three day roof job and two longer term gigs (admittedly it's easier to find work when you're a handy-man/ jack of all trades).

At the end of the day, make sure you are enjoying your experiences. If the time you spend is enriching in any way, you are not poor. It is these activities that make you rich. If these skills can keep my scatter brained attention span occupied, they can work for anyone

*Or what shoes you're wearing with pants. Seriously, I wore brown slippers to a wedding last week. No one was the wiser.