I'm moving carefully these days. There's every reason for me to believe that I will have an extremely difficult time earning a living in 2009. 2008 was no picnic and the local, national, and world economic situation has deteriorated further. I want to believe that I have a future but all signs tell me that what lies ahead is bleak and very limited.
Pushing back against this dire scenario are several key factors. I am tied into a greater world filled with people that still have desires and needs. No matter what the news announcers and newspaper writers prophesies contain, I still participate in a relatively vibrant community, in the wealthiest nation on earth. I suppose that should add more promise to my future than if I were squatting on a section of sidewalk in Port au Prince.
People around me are certainly having their share of difficulties. Most are still employed but many are unhappy with the jobs they have. Others are out of work but still remain a part of support systems that keep them afloat. I am not a part of any of that yet I have some work, at least as of today, and something else. I have my fields.
I am not talking about fields in the sense of acreage like you would find on a farm. I own no land whatsoever. What I do have are what I consider to be fields of contacts, knowledge, and acquaintances. Month after month, year after year, my whole life I have been working with people, helping people, and leaving behind an impression of me in places far and wide. I do not count these accomplishments and relationships as laurels that I can sit back and rely on. In reality they are only dormant seeds, seeds that may never even sprout.
But like seeds, each contact I have made, every business card I have given out, and every person I leave an impression with helps me cultivate a sense of who I am and what I am capable of achieving. Each conversation that people have with me has left them with a distinct impression of who I am as well as their importance to me. This is all I can do. It is what I have always done and it has brought unique results in far darker times and places than the present.
In the same way that a smart farmer will often grow different types of crops in her fields, I also plant seeds of many varieties. Over the past few years I have planted various types of seeds in the form of investments. Some of my investments are like orchards that yield fruit in the form of dividends every season. While the trees themselves are not necessarily as stout as they were a year ago the dividend fruit continues to ripen and fall into my hands.
In the next few weeks I will even take full ownership of my tractor, actually a relatively new car. This is one of the most important tools on my farm because it allows me to plant seeds over greater distances and provides a means for me to bring home the harvests. I sometimes even use my car like a farmer might use a tractor, to fertilize the crops planted earlier in the season.
My computers, business website, online and physical photo galleries, and even this column all serve a similar function. It is this complete farm and the ways I have intertwined them that make my work an organic, growing being.
I am completely aware of the possibility that not a single person may act on their knowledge of my existence and abilities. Times are hard, people are mostly concerned with their immediate survival, the continued existence of their small businesses, and their personal plans, hopes, and dreams. My business card in the pile on their desk, my phone number in their directory, or just the slightest memory of their interactions with me is nothing greater, or less, than a seed planted out in a field waiting for a drop of rain and a ray of sunshine.
All this is why I continue to go out and meet more people, search my community and the Internet for more opportunities, and prepare for multiple eventualities. I may not succeed at this life after all but I certainly do not plan to give up without one hell of a struggle during every day I have left available to me. If for no other reason I owe it to all those seeds I planted out there and especially to the one or two that will certainly sprout one day soon.