Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Time for Fear or Fearlessness?

There is a scene in the movie “Defending Your Life” where the Albert Brooks’ character just lost his job and his wife asked for a divorce right before he was to take a trip to the Orient, and instead of fearing the loss of income and the loss of his family, he decides to go on the trip anyway – spending the rest of his life savings.

When he goes to the counter at the airport terminal to get his seat assignment, the airline agent says that he’s been booked in seat 27B.

He says: “So that’s as in: between “A” and “C”?”

She says: “Yes, sir. It’s a full flight and there are nothing but middle seats left.”

He: “No, no, no… Can’t you do something for me here?”

She: “Sorry, sir…” She pauses as she scans the computer screen seating chart and then announces a discovery… “There is, however one seat remaining in the First Class Cabin”.

He: “How much is it?”

She says after several computer clicks: “that would be $3,500.00 for the upgrade.”

He says after a short pause: “I’ll take it!”

Yesterday, I was put on hold for my last remaining major project. A pending lawsuit has stopped the project from proceeding for the time being. So, that leaves me with no choice but to seriously scramble for a new project and new income… Or maybe a career change? The pinch of the economy has been tightening tighter and tighter for the last six months. Financing new projects is essentially impossible. Anyone related to the construction industry knows what I’m talking about. It just adds another layer of stress to this game we call life. You see, I’m personally being sued (erroneously) on another project, with even another one pending – yes the attorneys out there are still well employed – and my wife is keeping the thermostat at 60 degrees and telling everyone to wear more sweaters and gloves – it makes typing on the keyboard a bit of a challenge, but otherwise, we’re getting used to it… Am I panicking? Maybe not as much as I should, but I probably should if this downturn doesn’t turn up pretty soon. It did keep me up from about 2AM to 5AM tossing and turning... So what did I do today? I fearlessly cranked up the heat and went ahead and made reservations for tickets for a special family trip this summer right after school is out. Whether this becomes the last-chance-time-together-special occasion that I plan it to be, because two of my kids are graduating and moving on into adulthood, or because I will be broke and bankrupt and unemployed and never able to take such a trip again, remains to be seen… I should be screaming with panic.
For now, I'm relatively calm, but it's interesting how much I determine my worth and value my purpose for existing based on how well I provide for my family and how successful I am in my career. To think that my self-worth and purpose are determined by my sexual affinity and attraction - pales in comparison to failing as a provider for my family and meeting their needs.


Kengo Biddles said...

Miki doesn't understand why my unemployment through '07's holiday season was so hard on me, but you've summed it up well...and your statement really applies to ANYTHING:

"To think that my self-worth and purpose are determined by my sexual affinity and attraction - pales in comparison to failing as a provider for my family and meeting their needs."

playasinmar said...

That's two taunt-L-with-sexy-picture-posts in a row.


Public Loneliness said...

Times are hard, especially for those brave enough to be their own boss like you, but if you are good at your current job, you will prevail, have no doubt, but I do see your concern and understand completely how everything else is a non-issue when you can't provide for your family, we go back to care and nurture our most basic needs, hang in there...it has to get better for everyone. Hugs.

Silver said...

Beck, Your candor and vulnerability are a blessing to me tonight. I too am tied to construction for my welfare, as you are aware. I've also got a pending lawsuit to fact this year and a discouraging batch of bad work to pursue. The last years were such a feast. I guess we are spoiled a bit. It's harder to go to work these days and I'm finding myself easily distracted by anything that will entertain me and get my mind elsewhere.

I'm not taking financial chances at the moment, but I'm feeling the urge to take some kind of risk, just to keep it interesting.

I wish you well brother. You are far too talented to let a little economic slump get you down. You will thrive in some way, I'm certain. In the meantime, catch your breath and smell some flowers!

Love ya,

Ned said...

Beck, I will pray for you and your family. I'm glad you wrote about what's going on. You give me courage and help me feel that I'm not alone. Your brother, Ned

Bravone said...

Beck, I can totally relate. I am a commercial real estate broker and am scared sometimes to the point of paralysis. We will survive, but may have some hard times ahead. My prayers are with you.

Beck said...

KENGO: My experience indicates I judge my well-being based on how I provide for my family... maybe more than I should, and certainly more than my wife does. Maybe it's a trained response after years of playing the part of the gatherer, protector, provider.

Though it certainly doesn't have to be this way, for me, at least, it feels as much a part of who I am as my sexual attraction is who I am. And when I don't do well at it, it crumbles a part of that core that is who I am.

PLAYA: No taunting intended... just me continuing to be me - take it or leave it - and for some, they've seemed to have left the building long ago.

Beck said...

PL: Thanks for the reminder that I've been "brave" or fearless for years being my own boss. I don't see that as being brave, as I've been very successful in past years, never having to worry about where the next job is coming from - but now that it isn't so obvious, the fear and doubt creep up to me and try to take over my confidence... these are particular times for the sole proprietors out there!

SILVER: Thanks for the confidence in me and my "talents". I tend for forget that I have anything to offer when we go through these down times. I haven't seen the spigot turn completely off like it has in the last few months. I need to remember that I'm not alone in this, that I didn't cause this, and that I'm still the same and can still do good and move forward... I know you know from where you speak and I appreciate your encouragement. Let's go find a good project and work together!

Beck said...

NED: Thanks for your prayers, but really, I'm not trying to play the "wo is me" card. I'm just having a down period with my business - we'll get through it, and I'm calm. But, yes, your prayers are appreciated but pray for those also who are completely unemployed or just lost their homes. I'm still okay... and you know what makes me feel okay even more? My wife! Her strength and support and common sense and practicality (and not being caught up in the stress of being the provider) see me through and clear my mind. How grateful I am for her and that I am partnered with her for eternity, motivating me and helping me to see the bigger picture and the light at the end of that proverbial dark and long tunnel we're stuck in.

BRAVONE: The real estate market has been directly hit along with the construction industry. We're in this together, fratello mio, for what it's worth... Keep being fearless!

GeckoMan said...

Hey Beck,
'Been there, done that!' I feel for you, not knowing where the next dime is going to come from.

All I can say in words of advice is take control of your options and don't wait for something big to fall in your lap. While you still have some funds, start getting creative on down-sizing your skills to a product or service that resonates with a target consumer. You undoubtedly have cross-functional talents that can be applied in many areas.

Beck said...

GECKO: Nice to see you lurking out there. Always great to hear from you. I hope all is well and you've managed to get through the low times and things are looking up with your employment.

I'm not "unemployed" as I'm "self-employed" - it's just that I've slowed down and this is new for me to experience the concern for where the next job will come from when all I see are jobs not going forward, or being placed on hold, or can't get financed, etc.

Yes, I need to fine-tune and market and develop my contacts and hustle - I know I can do it - it's just different and more stressful now that the jobs aren't just pouring in the door.

Thanks for your encouragement and kind words. Don't be such a stranger!