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Of Money and of Being Broke Nov 1, 2010

Of Money and Of Being Broke

Freelancer Life
As a freelancer, being broke from time to time is part of the landscape. There were many times I came close to living in a cardboard box, but that hasn't happened yet. Some miracle always happens during the dying seconds...the proverbial phone rings....and ka-ching! Money comes my way - not a whole lot...just enough to get me by. It seems to be a repeating pattern. I'd been living life like this for nearly a decade now.

In The Red
While in Dumaguete though, I really drowned in red ink...as in. I found myself loaning money from people whom I have the least discomfort loaning from. Yes, least discomfort because I'm never comfortable loaning money. These people however, are intimate friends who are more than willing to lend me money without thinking twice about it. The hesitation is mine - not theirs (I don't need my second hand to count them). Actually, I can't accept loans from anyone else other than them. The sheer discomfort will be too much for me, I'd lose sleep. Needless to say, the moment money arrives, the highest priority is to pay back all my loans before anything else.

Give 'til it Hurts
It's even funny when I asked for the loan. When asked how much I needed, I said, "Give the most you can handle because it'll be very hard for me to ask you again."

Staying Real
I'm not usually bothered when I'm close to hitting skid row. Friends who know of my predicament are usually more bothered. Somehow, I'm comforted thinking there's this unseen hand looking after my well-being. I also do a check-and-balance why such misfortune might be happening. Have I violated my own tenets? If I have, then I can kiss that unseen hand goodbye. I'm only with the Flow because I subscribe to its natural laws....and my tenets are in full compliance to these natural laws. If I know I stayed real the entire time, then I can only speculate that my state of being broke is part of a process that needs to take place for something else to happen. What's that something else? I don't really know, but I suspect it's along the lines of manifesting whatever desires I long for...yeah, so much for detachment.

Money is Energy
Money is definitely a survival tool but beyond that, I'm not necessarily infatuated with it. There were a few occassions when I was close to being broke but parted with my money anyway to help out friends (sometimes just an acquaintance) who needed it more than I did. I'm just thankful it's not me suffering their misfortune. I embrace the Chinese's concept of money - that it's an energy that has to remain kinetic. It must move around. But you won't see me gambling to meet that purpose. The reason I hit skid row now is because I refused to take on a lucrative contract - there was no working resonance with the client. If you haven't walked away from money before, give it a try. It's a rush like no other.

Downside of being Broke
Being broke brings its own baggage. In my case, I'd feel like a prison inmate, confined to stay put in one place since I have no money to travel. Worse, I'd have to conserve money, I'd even have to ween myself from watching a movie or eating food beyond the P25/meal ceiling. Worst, I'd have to say No to an invite because I won't be able to cope with the expenditure. That's torture.

And the Upside
However, and I'm just beginning to realize this, is that being broke also presents opportunities - make that golden opportunities that I take good advantage of. Having time on my hands, I'm now at liberty to do all those things I usually put aside. I used to procrastinate saying, "...when I have time.". Now, I have no excuse.

So, what have they been? Many (ok, now I begin to really rant).

  • Web Content Management System (WCMS) - I've long wanted to learn how to add a content management tool for the web. This way, clients can update content on their site without having to learn html. Right now, I'm focusing on Joomla, a WCMS that's open source and free. Because it requires a little knowledge in programming, which I don't have, the learning curve is steep.
  • Superstring Theory - the world of quantum mechanics has been fascinating me specially now that meditation, brain physiology and string theory converge to blueprint the way to an altered-state. Trippy stuff. I was lucky to download a 12-hour classroom lecture on the topic by Dr. James Gates Ph.D.. It's a hard study when he gets technical - photons, bozons, Higg's Particle, etc. It can't be learned in one sitting. I will have to watch it all over again when I finish it.
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) - my introduction to GIS, or plainly put, land mapping, has been a great horizon expander. This passion is evident with my blogs where I now include maps, tracks, and waypoints to the places I talk about. GIS provides me a sense of physical bearing - a kind of grounding in a very literal sense. It's also an outlet for more creative ways to present a map. With my Photoshop background, GIS has become my new playground.
  • Bisaya - now that I'm in Dumaguete, I made it my business to learn Bisaya or the Cebuano language. A friend was able to lend me the Peace Corps language manual which is invaluable to me specially because I'm a visual learner. With this move, I'll have to put aside my parlez-vous for the time being.
  • Blogging - yes, you may have noticed I'd been blogging quite a bit. This reminds me of 2003 when I would find time at the end of the day and just write. Writing is such release as it allows me to reflect, contemplate and analyze. I get to playback life one more time with deliberate scrutiny (otherwise, it's just a passing blur).

Humility and Ego
Living life on other people's money, even though it's a loan, is a very humbling experience. The sheer thought of lifting that phone to make that call makes me cringe. My notion of being fiercely independent is shattered. My remaining fig leaf is that I'll pay it back. While this happens, I have no ego. You cannot conceptualize not having ego. It has to be experienced in a humbling, almost embarrassing way. Ego, like clutter, is a heavy weight to carry. You just don't notice how heavy until it's lifted off your shoulder. Losing one's ego, however, comes with a sense of renewal...like given a chance to start on a clean slate. I'm reminded of the song that says, "to conquer death, you only have to die" - to conquer my ego, I only have to live on the charity of others.

Ending Thoughts
Even though I'm still broke (until I repay all my debts), I'm supremely confident the money is already on its way. How so? The Flow has never been wrong. In September, I realized what my being broke was all about coming to terms with the need for change. And I have taken on the new mandate. By that recognition alone, being broke was rendered a thing of the past. Right now, even though the money hasn't arrived yet, I'm drowning in work from all the projects I put in place in compliance to this wealth-building mandate.

I would have written this in July when I felt desperate, but I remained apprehensive thinking that some well-meaning friends might take it as plea for help. It's not.

With this new paradigm of abundance, I feel nostalgic not just about being broke but of leaving my lifestyle of poverty-by-choice. In the same way that Andy Warhol claimed that everyone should be famous for at least 15 minutes in their lives, I subscribe that everyone should pursue poverty at least once in their lives. When viewed in perspective, poverty is empowering because when you wean out all the things you thought you needed, it makes you realize that life can be meaningful and colorful with the most meager of resources. Peasant food becomes haute-cuisine; the lowly tuba washes down your food like vintage Bordeaux. Again, it has to be experienced - conceptualizing doesn't do justice.

I'm not sure if I'll get broke again, or choose to live in poverty again, but if and when it happens, I see a glass half-full.

--- TheLoneRider

broke 110110

The following people like this story:


Reina
Deacosta

Armin
Bernardino

Charo
Santiago

Rowie
Luciano

Reader Comments:

TheLoneRider "I read your story and it helps me realize so many things" -- Donabell Bernales
TheLoneRider
(June 15, 2012) It's good to know my story resonates to someone out there. I hope things start looking up for you.


Donabell BernalesDonabell Bernales
(June 14, 2012) Your story inspires me to get going. I have been struggling since 2006 when my partner died. I've been working abroad to earn a living, but I was deported year 2010 Aug. Until now its been difficult...but accidentally I read your story and it helps me realize so many things. Thank you for sharing your life...

TheLoneRider "You're a beautiful writer" -- Michael Fazackerley
TheLoneRider
(Nov 15, 2009) ...coming from a highly literate person, I'm flattered. Thank you for the kind words, Faz.

Michael FazackerleyMichael Fazackerley
(Nov 15, 2010) You're a beautiful writer. You have perfectly expressed so many aspects of this subject that I have never quite found the right words for. Thank you.

TheLoneRider "...reading about the life of St. Francis of Asisi. You might not be the religious type though" -- Rino Avila
TheLoneRider
(Nov 15, 2009) No, I haven't read his book, but one of the best movies I've seen is about his life - Brother Sun Sister Moon. To this date, it resonates. I still remember my thoughts then after seeing that movie, "these guys are the original hippies". You're right, I'm not religious. But I'd like to think I'm spiritual. Big difference. Thank you for your insight, Rino.

Rino AvilaRino Avila
(Nov 13, 2010) Humility and Ego - May I suggest, if you haven't already done it, reading about the life of St. Francis of Asisi. Your thoughts about humility and ego remind of this saint's struggle with himself and how he lived his faith. You might not be the religious type though :). BTW we've met in one of Firefly Brigade's meetings.

Charo Santiago
(Nov 4, 2010) nice share...you're too talented in terms of web design and SEO...maybe we can share our talents and join forces in some projects...hehehe. I quit my job 2 months ago believing that my online jobs would be enough to earn a living, but I was wrong or maybe I was just not lucky enough to get long-term jobs. I tried freelance web design as well but my skills are not enough yet to accept all the complex sites the clients wanted me to work for them. What's left for me now is affiliate marketing...not bad though. I'm still earning from it on just one posting on the net, then of course SEO. Think about it, my friend. Life is still good, just believe! God Speed!

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