Survival

South of Adelaide lies the Fleurieu Peninsula, a fertile, undulating place of mild climate and lonely roads, rising no more than 800 feet above the sea. It juts out like a witch’s chin, pointing south-west towards Kangaroo Island. The peninsula has around sixty or seventy miles of coastline along the Gulf St Vincent and the Southern Ocean. There are sandy beaches, but it is mostly a jumble of rocky outcrops, bluffs, cliffs, coves, estuaries and windswept valleys. There is some development, but inaccessibility foils much human effort at such things. It is a beautiful, wild, raw kind of place.

I spent a lot of time there as a child. We lived at the beach near the city, but for vacations we went to other beaches. Oftentimes we went south, to the Fleurieu. Over many summers and school field trips, you learn a thing or two about nature, and the nature of life in water and near it. As a place to discover such things, there are few peers.

For a while, the life that lay beneath rocks near the water fascinated me. There are many tessellated outcrops between Adelaide and Cape Jervis, replete with tidal pools, corals and all kinds of life. I loved the crabs that live in this semi-sea, semi-land environment. Nothing made me happier than overturning a shoebox-sized rock to note the crabs living underneath. They scuttled away, but I caught them, sometimes paying for it with nips.

How did they squish themselves into such small spaces? Did they grow into big crabs or stay palm-sized? (Child’s palm-sized!) What did they eat? What did they do when the tide came in and covered their house in seawater?

~*^*~

We live in a time when the tide is coming toward us. We are living under a rock for the moment, more-or-less dry, more-or-less happy, kinda doing okay. But I fear that we will need to quickly adapt when the sea truly begins to roll in, as it will. That is the lesson from those afternoons spent fooling about in rockpools – some crabs survive, others don’t.

Which will you be?

That Vision Thing

Looking forward is more difficult than looking back. Derrr.

A game I like to play is imagining the headlines (ahh, a nineteenth century word if ever there was one) three or five years hence. What will the big story/stories be on January 6th, 2018?

If you can figure that out, your path ahead is much more clear. Unfortunately, few people can extrapolate accurately into the future. An example is Seth Godin.

One of his long-run conjectures is that the “…mass market it dying”. Mass markets involve mass production, mass marketing and massive waste. The coming atomization of markets, the increased granularity if you like, means less hit-and-miss, and more bulls-eyes in business.

This is what opportunity looks like for you and me.

Through the Looking Glass

Your job is your most valuable asset. I stole that from Dave Ramsey, but figure that an attribution will make it okay. Your job, as Dave might say, creates the boundaries of your life, not in a spiritual way, but in most practical ways.

For instance, if you spend more than you make, you’ll have to make up the difference with borrowing or sale of assets. Borrowed money removes the control you have over that part of your income you need to pay the interest, thereby reducing the value of your job. Every hour you work then becomes less your own, and more someone else’s. Banks and payday lenders and car dealerships happily encourage you to spend much of your working day working for them.

Your life boundaries get a little tighter with every reduction of your income.

On the other hand, spending less than you make expands your life’s boundaries. Money saved or invested is a down-payment on freedom. Let’s think about a job as being a tactic to get where you want to be in life. The idea is to make the job optional.

This theme is important to me at the moment because I am pretty much obliged to work every weekend for a while. When you’re already working 55 hours a week, the additional eight or ten raise questions, like ‘Is this Sunday night really worth the one-off increase in my pay check? Wouldn’t I be better creating something that pays me when I’m NOT working?’

Of course I would. When you work for an hourly wage or even a yearly salary, you only get ahead to the extent that you can save and invest. It’s a (frightening) example of diminishing returns, because we all have only limited time. This extra hundred bucks needs to be re-earned every weekend, hour-by-hour.

There is be a better way. There is a way to expand my income with every hour spent, not limit the ratio to 1:1.

I plan to walk through that looking glass into a much smarter world.

Navigating Around

Stuff happens.
Stuff happens.

 

Tragedy is unavoidable. Disasters happen. Failure is inevitable. And yet for the most part we all find the will to carry on. It’s the way we’re built.

We can, however, mitigate bad things. If we control that which we can in our lives, there is less room for the destructive and dangerous. That which we can control – and choose not to –  raises our risk. Failure to tend your garden encourages weeds.

Here are some very specific examples, a big picture view of the ways you can court big problems:

  • If you fail to become literate and numerate, you put yourself at risk
  • Choosing not to continue your education throughout your life puts you at economic risk
  • Failing to acquire marketable skills is a risk
  • Habitual drug use clearly raises your risk profile
  • Avoiding two hours of exercise per week risks your health and longevity
  • Overeating and eating junk obviously isn’t good
  • Spending all your income and not saving any is risky
  • Not planning for (the inevitable) emergencies of life will catch up eventually
  • Ignoring the fact that life is capricious is risky

 

The trouble with all of these actions is that modern media and social pressure works against them. Folks selling you stuff tell you how much you need a new big-screen television every three years, or a new car every two. Fast food advertising encourages you to avoid the drudgery of home cooking. Visa and Mastercard will help you get whatever you want now…and why worry about the interest?

Any way you slice it, if you want to give yourself a chance at keeping disaster from ruining your life, you’ll need hard work, discipline, thrift and a plan. Observing the people around me, few see the importance of this, and fewer still the reward.