Instead Of Feeling Broke | Thou Mayest

May 4, 2018

A few months ago, friends invited me to the World Cup Aerials in Park City. It comes with the territory of living in the state whose license-plate claim to fame is “Greatest Snow on Earth” I suppose. On the way home, I asked Kathleen what we were listening to. She told me it was a mix CD of jazz music and offered to change it to something else. “NO WAY!” said I!

It’s kind of funny how you can forget how much you like something until reintroduced to it; listening to a wide variety of jazz music on that drive back was like catching up with an old friend. A Pandora “Early Jazz” station has since been created and listened to for countless hours and has become the soundtrack to many of my writing sessions.

One song on said Pandora station I particularly like is “Instead Of” by Madeleine Peyroux. Below is a smattering of some of the lyrics I think you’ll also appreciate:

  • "Instead of wastin’ time; feel good ’bout what you are dreaming of."
  • "Instead of feelin’ broke; buck up and get yourself in the black."
  • "Instead of acting crazy chasing things that make you mad; keep your heart ahead, it’ll lead you back to what you have."
  • "With every step you are closer to the place you need to be."

We get to choose!

There’s some good stuff here! In fact, there’s some GREAT stuff here, the main, repeating takeaway being a reminder that we get to CHOOSE. We got choice, people! Instead of staying in a stuck place, choose to do something different.

Instead of wondering how something might turn out, make it turn out like you want (of course, as much as is in your control). I really really like this. And guess what? It totally applies to Budgeting (you had to know this was coming) which is just choosing in advance what to do with your money. Instead of living in the dark and hoping you have enough money to cover expenses and hit your dreams, choose to make sure you do.

And somehow we're back/on to budgeting...

Oh man…this wasn’t intended to be a post about the wonders of a budget but, apparently, I can’t help myself. In the same way that aunts, uncles and double-first cousins at my annual family reunion can’t help but have a good time, I just can’t keep from singing the praises of what budgeting will do for your life. As long as we’re on that subject why don’t I continue?

What I particularly like about the part about getting back in the black is the phrase “buck up”. It’s a reminder that this is totally in your realm of control and totally possible. We’re strong! You’re strong! It makes me think about Kristin Wiig’s character’s really low point (saying something since she had a lot of lows) in Bridesmaids. [Thanks, Jess and Jake, for access to the edited copy. Will you please leave it to me in your will?]

Annie (played by KW) is laying on her mom’s dingy couch watching Castaway when Megan (played by Melissa McCarthy) comes to rouse her out of her serious life slump.

She gives Annie a pep-talk who continues in her slumpy mode until Megan gets in her face, literally, and once Annie is paying attention she says: “You got to stop feeling sorry for yourself. ‘Cause I do not associate with people that blame the world for their problems. ‘Cause you’re your problem. And you’re also your solution.”

Inspiring and seriously, so true. See what I did there? Double movie quote. I will think nice thoughts about anyone who can name the second movie. Anyway, we may be causing some of our problems with our choices or repeating negative thought patterns, but we also are the solution since we are the only person who can do stuff in/for our life. Literally no one else can change your life but you.

And now we're on to literature...naturally....

Recognizing the power to choose is so…empowering, for lack of a better word. It’s easy to forget and coast along thinking life is happening to you but nope. You get to choose your thoughts and your actions.

One of my favorite books is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Lee, the Chinese philosopher/house-manager/friend, is one of my favorite characters and in Chapter 24 waxes eloquent about the Hebrew word “timshel.” After 2 years of study with “ancient revered gentlemen” in his family, they determine it to mean “Thou mayest.” After sharing this, he goes on about the wonders and glory of being able to choose and since recapping it just won’t do it justice, I’ll share just a brief excerpt:

Confucius tells men how they should live to have good and successful lives. But [the ability to choose his course]this is a ladder to climb to the stars. You can never lose that. It cuts the feet from under weakness and cowardliness and laziness….I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyedbecause ‘Thou mayest.’

Takeaways for us all:

1. Take a look at the parts of your life or thoughts which you tend to wallow in and apply some “instead” thinking and doing.

2. If you don’t like your financial life and if you’re figuratively or literally broke, buck up and figure out some even one thing you can do to “get yourself back in the black.”

3. Listen to more jazz music – you’ll be glad you did.

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