Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Missionary or Mercenary?

I'm at a crossroads. Truly I am.

For most of my career, I have had a certain missionary approach to my life, with service-to-others being in the forefront of my mind. But recently, I've begun to feel like I'm a burden. A true burden to my friends and family because of my lack of means. I never get to pick up a check or buy a super-special gift, I'm always the one that needs the help and don't often feel like I'm much good to the people I care most about.

Now at work, that's quite a different story. I pour myself into the college, do as much as I possibly can for my clients, come early and stay late. And my salary is lower than your average barista. I've got no guilt about my work ethic as it compares to my compensation.

But my surgery this fall has had a profound effect on me. It has caused several things to happen:
1) Because the nerves in my lower abdomen have not regenerated yet, I cannot feel when my shirt hikes up and my stomach is exposed. So unless I catch a glimpse of myself in some reflective surface, I'm all "look at my rock hard abs" except their not quite rock hard. Short of always checking myself out in store windows or always wearing super-high waisted outfits, I'm not sure what to do about that.
2) Okay, more seriously I really feel like I need to create more security for myself: own something that approximates a dwelling, have a "nest-egg," have some sense of security.
3) I feel that I have asked so very much from everyone around me, that on nearly a daily basis I feel crippled by guilt... because on some level I feel like I've used them all up. That no one will be there if there is ever a next time.

So am I ready to take the plunge? Move my thinking from Missionary to Mercenary? I don't know. I feel vaguely ill thinking about money: making it, perpetuating the capitalist machine... for gosh sakes... what American worries about these things?

Well I do. I want to be an environmentalist-vegetarian-do-gooder-artist. Regardless of what most people think, I'm somewhat realistic. So I'm going to think about this. Is there a life that will keep me on the missionary-side but will allow for some security? Am I committed enough to helping the planet to take a mercenary job as a means to an end WITHOUT being corrupted by the extra money?

I'm open to all things. I'm ready for the discussion. I know that something needs to be different, but I just want to make sure that I don't do something dumb.

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