What do we borrow? Money will come to mind for most of us. If we haven’t borrowed money directly we’ve borrowed it in the form of car notes, mortgages, student loans, and other various lines of credit. But we borrow so much more throughout our lives than just money. We borrow time, favors, circumstances, and so many other things both tangible and intangible. We’re a society of borrowers, but what do we pay back?
We pay interest on the money we borrow but what about the intangibles? What do we pay back on borrowed time or a friend’s good name? We’ve all borrowed. What do pay for that privilege?
Most of us have routines and rituals. One of mine is to spend an hour or so every Friday after work at the local bookstore’s café with a book and a cup of coffee. I’ve been going back there for last few Fridays now that the café is open to full capacity. Now that I’ve fallen back into that welcome routine I’ve discovered two things.
The first thing I discovered is that a few moments alone (even in a crowded café) to decompress with a good book before heading home is invaluable. That hour or so allows me to leave work worries at one place before heading to the next. The second is that the coffee at the café sucks. They offer a passable brew, but a year of lockdowns had me experimenting with a variety of excellent brews and now I recognize that the coffee at several places I frequent is not good (and that’s a polite assessment). I don’t plan on changing my Friday routine (I value my coffee shops hours too much) but I’m wondering if I should try to sneak in my own coffee (hip flask in the movie theater style) and just leave a bigger tip.
This is a follow up, a build, a clarification if you will to my last post. I still stand by the sentiment of that post, but I may have come off as a comic book snob. Maybe I am a bit of a snob when it comes to what I read but most people who take reading seriously usually are (or at least they should be).
In my last post I wrote that some people don’t really read comic books but what does that mean? All too often I’ve seen people read comic books simply because of the title (or title character) with no regard to who the writers and artists are, or they will read a title simply because a particular writer or artist is involved. Unfortunately there are too many writers/artists out there who have no real passion for the books and characters they are working on. These writers/artists may be looking to build a reputation, cross off an item on a bucket list, or have some other motive for involving themselves with a title. The one thing they do not bring to the title is passion. They may fake it for an issue or few but a close reading reveals a certain shallowness, no depth of character or story. No one can read a book that isn’t the result of the writer’s and artist’s passion.
When I tell somebody they haven’t really read a comic book it may be that they haven’t read a book that was written by somebody who was truly passionate about the title and the characters. Hell, maybe I need to tell people that they need to be a little more selective about their comic book choices, to be a bit snobbish. Then they will be able to read a comic book.
Life has finally started to get into full swing out here in the Midwest. Businesses are open for full capacity, summer events are returning, and people are getting outside. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit in a coffee shop and get some work done (my home office space is starting to feel a little stale). So I grabbed some work yesterday and went to a local coffee shop with plans of sitting on the patio and editing some photographs. Then the rain came and forced me inside, but I didn’t mind.
I posted “Wasting Away on a Rainy Day” back in May of 2019. It addresses how we can spend our rainy days. That post was pre-Covid, a time when going to coffee shops, pubs, and restaurants was a given, a time before lockdowns, limited capacities, and social distancing. This post is an addendum of sorts. My 2019 post stated that rainy days at cafes can be enjoyable and productive. I’d like to add that a rainy day in a café can be appreciated even more than it was a year and half ago simply for the fact that the cafes are open again. Instead of complaining about the rain, I saw it as an opportunity to get out of the house so I could sit inside a coffee shop for a couple hours and it was a couple of hours that were greatly appreciated.
It’s odd that my final thought on getting by is at the tail end of a busy couple weeks spent struggling to get by (insert cliché line about life imitating art). I think many of us have, are, or will spend portions of our lives feeling like we are just getting by. When we find ourselves in that state of getting by, when we are struggling, and when we feel like we are on the hook that’s when it’s time to do some extra work.
We need to work beyond simply getting by. This is my final thought, when you feel like you are struggling to get by ask yourself if you are better today than you were yesterday. If you can answer yes to that question then you’ve moved beyond getting by and are on your way to getting ahead.
It’s not a question without an answer as it is more a question with too many answers. Our perceptions, perspectives, and preoccupations with getting by are as wide and varied as the number of people who will tell you they are getting by.
What one perceives as getting by is perceived as getting ahead to another. Another’s perspective of getting by isn’t our perspective of getting by. While some are preoccupied with getting by others don’t give getting by much thought.
With so many answers to the same question concerning getting by the best we can do is not be too quick to judge people when they share their struggle of getting by.
We spent the last year or so in a variety of ways but I dare say the most common were isolation and idleness. Getting by appears to be the default mode of 2020. We experienced isolation from acquaintances, friends, and family. Hell, I’ve had friends tell me they miss the staff from the local Dunkin’. Many of us found ourselves in some form or another of forced idleness. Our jobs, hobbies, and assorted pass times were not compatible with a lockdown lifestyle and forced many of into a year long holding pattern of sorts. Simply getting by was the daily grind for many of us last year (and the first part of this one too).
But we got by in 2020. We didn’t give up. We embraced the distance in our interpersonal relationships and made them work. We found ways around the idleness. Those ways may have added a few pounds or worked the liver a little too hard, but we ground it out and found ways to keep active. We got up, and we got by. Now that there seems to an end in sight to this craziness let’s move from getting by to getting ahead in the rest of 2021.
All too often we feel the need to measure, evaluate, and/or judge our current position in life. We wonder if we are falling behind, coming out ahead, or maybe we’re just getting by. Wherever we find ourselves in life it is almost always compared to some other place or position we think (or others have convinced to think) we should be or wish to be in order to be succesful. With all this in mind I decided the next topic of conversation will be getting by.
Getting by can and does refer to many different things varying from one’s mental state to job/economic status and a whole bunch more. It’s usually just used to reference that general place and time in life where we are but not necessarily where we wish to be. For some getting by is a layover of sorts, a temporary state of being. For others getting by is the final stop, a way of life.
Getting by has become a way to measure where we feel we are in life. It is also a way to measure ourselves against some sort of definition of success (a definition that is often not of our making). Let’s take a closer look at getting by, what it means, and how it reflects our views of self and others.
We’re on the tale end of a couple rainy days over here in the Midwest, and rain always puts me in a contemplative mood. Figure now is as good a time as any to tap out a few thoughts to wrap up the conversation about selling out. I’ve come to think that there are a three points to consider when it comes to the idea of selling out, and only one point is relevant.
The first irrelevant point is the accusation of selling out. It’s naïve to think peer pressure ends with high school or that accusations (or opinions) are incapable of ruining lives, but we can’t allow ourselves to be judged as sell outs by others. Shakespeare has that line about being true to yourself. As long as you stay true to yourself the accusations of others shouldn’t effect how you view yourself. Subscribing to some generic definition of selling out is the second irrelevant point. We shouldn’t worry ourselves with the accusations of others or try to live by their definitions either. It is all too easy to criticize ourselves or to think less of ourselves when we apply some generic definition of selling out to our lives. The third and only relevant point is whether or not we believe we sold out. If you can look in the mirror and live with what you choose to do then the accusations of others and their definitions don’t matter.
The only judge of whether or not you’ve sold out is you. The accusations and definitions of others are irrelevant. I’ve dedicated the past month to the topic of selling out and now it’s time to move along to a new topic. I hope you found something interesting (or at least entertaining) among these posts.
Selling out isn’t confined or limited to a single event or decision. We tend to view selling out as some life changing moment, a decision that will or won’t label us as a sell out. These moments exist and are tests of our character, but there is also the sell out through compromise. There is the multitude of little compromises we make throughout our lives and then we wake up one morning wondering when and how we sold out.
Compromises are part of life. To believe that we would never compromise is unrealistic and will eventually lead to frustration. It would be better to review each compromise we are asked to make and evaluate what it is we are giving up and more importantly if we will ever get it back. Every time punch at a job we hate is a compromise. Every day spent in a relationship we know won’t last is a compromise. Every time we say yes, every favor we do, every task we complete for people who don’t care and/or are just using us is a compromise. These little compromises, when added up, will eventually reach a tipping point to selling out.
In most instances those who sell out at least get something for their decision (even Faust got something for selling out). But selling out through compromises usually offers no reward, at best there is a illusion of gratitude or friendship. We wake up one morning to the realization the we’ve sold out for less than cheap. Beware of compromises asked of you and whether or not you may be selling out on some sort of sad installment plan of 100 easy compromises.