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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Choices We Make Don't Always Seem Very Smart.

If we were smart, we would not be living in the country.

We'd have stayed closer to Jethro's work.  We'd have kept the house we had.  If we were smart, we'd be city people.  At the very least, bedroom community subdivision people, like we were for 13 years.  We would never dream of building a recording studio in a barn if we were smart.

If I was smart, I would have gotten an actual job.  If I was smart, I'd have worked my way into earning a paycheque that could support our family.

If we were smart, we wouldn't have horses.  They are big creatures that eat hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of hay, and need vet care and hoof trims.  They need acres of land to graze on and large buildings to house them in bad weather.  Owning horses is not a financially wise thing to do.  It's kind of dumb, really, from a money standpoint.

If I was smart, I would realize that teaching riding lessons with those horses is not likely to support the kind of property needed to keep the horses on, and I would have not chosen that path.  A smart way to handle that would have been to pay someone else for the privilege of riding their horse, and let that person pay for the vet and the land and the feed and tack.  

If I was really smart I'd just content myself with a few pretty pictures of horses on my walls, and sigh with envy when other people tell me about their horses, and I'd convince myself that horses are for the lucky few who are very rich and very lucky, but not for me.  

If I had any brains at all, I would understand that writing fiction is a terrible way to make a living, and that the odds of even getting to the place that I could think about earning anything from it is so far fetched that there's really no point even trying, and I'd just write a short story here and there and hide the printout under my bed or let it sit in silence in my computer.  Or if I was really smart, I'd just realize that I should stop.  Find another way to get the words and pictures and voices out of my head.  Crush them down.

Stop wanting that feeling of squeezing a story out of my brain.  Stop needing to search for the perfect word.

Stop craving the warmth of a horse's velvety smooth neck, stop thinking about the satisfaction of working in partnership with such a free spirited and sensitive and intelligent animal, stop needing to soak in their beauty with my eyes.  

If I was smart, I could look out the window of the house I live in and calmly remark on the neighbour's flowerbeds.  Be okay with how close the other houses are.  Be okay with not being able to see a stretch of horizon with no houses on it.



But I'm not smart.  We're not smart.

I mean, if he was smart, he might not stay in a business making a product (recorded music) that most people don't feel the need to pay for (and how does an industry stay functional if it can't profit from what it makes?)  If he was smart he'd be a plumber or an electrician or a truck driver.

We're not smart because we've chosen to keep going, despite the ridiculous odds stacked against us.  We've chosen to fight our way through and stick with it because he's one of the best and he loves it and it's what he does.  

I'm doing what I'm good at.  I'm good at teaching people how to ride horses.  I love it.  I'm getting better at it.  But.  We're not smart, because owning a horse in this century isn't smart, it's considered a luxury, even if it keeps a person sane and happy and peaceful.  

Writing isn't just not smart, it's kinda silly and frivolous.  Who needs it, right?  Will anybody be willing to pay for words a year from now?  

I'm not smart.

I keep writing.  I keep booking riding lessons, and feeling like a million bucks when they hand over their $35.  

He keeps pushing the record button, tuning flat notes, asking for one more take, glowing from the inside out when he coaxes a brilliant performance out of a musician, when he's satisfied with a mix.  


Is it SMART to protect creativity?  Is it SMART to be honest to yourself?


If SMART means being safe and secure, doing the thing with the least risk,  then no, we're not smart.  

We're flaky dreamers who try to magic everything into being okay.

But if SMART means doing what we're good at, doing what we love and what we feel we're meant to do,  maybe we're smarter than we realize. Maybe we can choose to get other people who are good at bookkeeping to do that for us, so we can get paid to do our thing.  If we're smart we'll realize that living in the city can be just as expensive as living in the country but in different ways.  And know that smart people figure out how to manage what they earn and what they spend and what they keep.

If we're smart we'll work at getting smarter and getting help with the stuff we're not good at, and making the best of this.

This is the deal people: We're doing what we do.  We've made some dumb choices, a few good ones, and a few that didn't feel like choices at all.  We have managed to hold onto each other, our family, and a few shreds of sanity.  

These are our choices, whether or not they're right for anybody else.... regardless of what's considered the smart thing to do.  This is what we've chosen.  


  

14 comments:

Heila said...

The financially smart thing to do is often not the thing that will make you happy, of which owning horses is a prime example. If I didn't have a horse I could... fill in the blanks. But I would also be depressed, fat and unfit.

mugwump said...

Ah man...I'm so dumb...wait, I'm smart, no, dumb, no, smart.
Wait, give me a minute...now my head hurts.
Guess I'll finish my next chapter and go for a ride.

Laura said...

neat post... I like hearing about people that are following their dreams. I'm slightly jealous of those people, since I have a sell-out government job and don't have any work dreams... But, horses are my dream hobby and I have often thought out taking horses out of my life, but it just doesn't seem right.

I'd also find something else to spend my money on anyway, so why bother? :-)

Laura Crum said...

Since I write for a career, and have way too many horses, I guess I qualify as not-smart...or smart, whichever the conclusion was. There's a lot of truth there. I would never wish to undo my lifelong horse habit or the choice I made to write books for a career. Even though, in some ways, those were not very "smart" choices. Great post.

Paul Tee said...

Being smart is overrated. Being content is what we should be aiming for. Heidi, I think you're doing all right. You guys have passion for what you do, not many do, trapped in some 9 to 5.

Sure it would be nice to have more money and success, but the trouble with those two things are, that no matter how much you have, they're never enough. You just raise the ceiling. Talk to someone who makes $200,000 a year, they want to make $500,000 and so on.

Of course a little more disposable cash would be welcome, but not when it becomes the driving force in my life. I chose to write because I guess I don't have enough friends in my life, so wrote myself a few more. I too could say that it would have been smarter had I invested my time in something with more secure returns, but I suspect I would be the poorer for it.

So smart? I don't know. Being good counts, being competent counts, liking what you do counts, having a good marriage and a close family counts, and striving counts. I think the challenge is to get our head in alignment with our own nature and circumstances.

Auntie said...

Thanks, Paul Tee ... you said exactly what I've been thinking but the words didn't come to me.

Cha Cha said...

Ohh. It's so easy to feel dumb when really you're just different. Sadly, it's a different sort of thing to follow your dreams, even if it doesn't seem to lead to the stuff we stereotype as "success."

I like your brand of stupid. Keep on keepin' on.

Heidi the Hick said...

Thanks for all your great comments!

I feel better hearing that others get it, but I still have this nagging recurring thought, which is that, simply...
**You have to have income** No income means no nothing. Not basic needs, not the stuff that makes you happy and fulfills your life. I'm just looking for a way to keep our souls fed while still keeping the fridge full and a roof over our heads!

Heila - yeah, financially smart vs, happiness smart? I just tell myself a lot of people spend more on gyms and yoga and even less unwholesome things than I spend on three horses. I don't know if that counts but it makes me feel justified a little.

Mugwump - what you said is EXACTLY what goes on in my head! Like, seventeen times every day!!!

Laura - I don't think a government job is a sell-out. You're providing an income and there should never be any guilt about that. And this job lets you afford to have horses in your life!

And yup, that money you spend on horses? It'd go somewhere else. Somewhere less awesome.

Laura Crum - Actually I think many people could think your life is the best ever. In any case I think it's wonderful that you wouldn't change any of your choices!

Paul - Brilliantly said. thank you. You're so right that it 's never enough. I know that. You can earn more and have nothing left over. And I know that I am not the type of person who can do a regular job for somebody else. I've tried it.

I think your last paragraph there sums it all up.

Auntie, you're somebody who knows so well what's most important in life.

Cha Cha - Man you just summed it up! (this from a girl who makes working for the Corporate Behemoth sound almost kinda fun!)

Thank you and I shall continue with my Special Brand of Stupid. It's just what I do.

Patrick Porter said...

But you're still a big hit at the Boston Flower Market. We're all broke...and you don't have a monopoly on the stupid part...we are right there with you. Rock on Canada girl.

Undercover Sandy Cove-r said...

Hi Heidi, you named this well in that you say "The Choices We Make Don't Always Seem Very Smart" with "Seem" being the operative word. Choices may not seem very smart at the time but speaking from experience, they will, most likely, turn out to be the smartest thing you ever did. Recently, I had to make some hard choices and fast. I'm now living in the North Country, no longer a citydiot (as someone would refer to me when I used to live near you). So when you see Undercover Sandy Cove-r, that's me. Take heart, Hick Chic, and follow it.

Undercover Sandy Cove-r said...

Oh, by the way - Phyllis = Undercover Sandy Cove-r

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Cindy D. said...

late comer to this post but I swear I am not a spammer. There will be no link at the end of this comment. Promise!
I had a job once that I loved loved loved. I worked with recovering addicts and I came home exhausted every night but couldn't wait to get up and do it again the next day.
I gave it up so my husband could move to WY to do what he wanted to do.
Now we are divorced, he still gets to do what he loves, and I am stuck in a job I make great money at but hate. I spend my days restless and edgy behind a desk. I escape my crappy job by sneaking peeks at horse blogs all day. I spend a good amount of time staring at the photo montage of my horses, wishing I could go home and be with them. I'd give this high paying job up for something I love in a heart beat. Even if it means less money. I have lived on very little before, I could do it again.

So "smart" in the social norm standards is not always the same thing as "smart" in personal mental health standards. I'll take "what I need to be ok" over "what someone else says ok is" any day of the week.
Good for you guys for finding what you love and going for it!

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