April 17th is Tax Day in the Dis-United States of America. Everyone hates giving away money to the government, for various reasons. The political right makes claims that it is “social programs” that are ruining the economy. The Left and Progressives hate paying more money for an already crazy-large military budget (and potentially, a military parade). The harder we work, the more we sweat, the more we pay. Three steps forward, seven steps back.
No one likes giving money away and everyone bitches about that. Tough luck. As Marvin Gaye sang years ago, “There’s only three things that for sure; taxes, death and trouble” — “Trouble Man” by Marvin Gaye. These “sure things” seem to operate like clockwork.
As many of us lament the government’s hand taking our hard earned money, many also lament their personal fiscal situation in general. Our economy basically sucks, in spite of whatever spin Washington D.C.’s and Wall Street’s PR factories tries to tell us. We know it, because we see it and feel it.
We, or people close to us are suffering, from underemployment, overemployment (in low wage jobs that get us nowhere), medical bills, foreclosures, etc. ad infinitum. The percentage of Veterans forced to live on the streets (especially in my hometown of not so glamorous Los Angeles) is a shame to our nation. Happy Tax Day America!
Yet, we can only control what we can control. Many men (and women) drive themselves crazy by stressing out on macro-situations, government policies, and issues we have no direct control over. True, there are many things amiss in our fiscal economy. But there is also a very real economy of the mind, spirit, and body. There is an economy within the eco-system of our thinking and behaviors that we need to analyze with fastidious diligence. Make a mistake in that economy and we are done for.
How Do We Audit the Economy of Our Mind?
Economics 101 teaches us that the conservation of our resources is critical to our fiscal health (as a society and as individuals). Within the eco-system of our mind, spirit, and body, we have to apply sound principles of conservation and understand the realities of “supply and demand.” We as individual men have X-amount of resources that we can barter with. If we are injecting too much of our mental, spiritual, and physical resources into projects, relationships, and pastimes that have no return in value for us, we are killing ourselves (literally) by squandering our limited resources.
I just read a great book on the entertainment industry and its future by a “Transmedia” expert named Houston Howard, called “You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Story.” In it, he cites the numerous economic changes taking place in the entertainment industries (film, music, gaming, television, etc.) that are radically deconstructing worn out paradigms. The cataclysmic shifts occurring are due to the unsustainability of the economy of these old systems. The film studio and music industry systems are collapsing. Out with the old and in with the new.
As we are nearly a quarter into this New Year, we as men need to audit our lives. In particular our thought life, our spiritual life, and physiological health. Are we in the “black” or in the “red?” Many of us are in the red, which is not good. If we do not have the foresight or courage to make some adjustments in our internal economy, we will pass the way of all life forms that no longer make sense within their eco-systems. Out with the old and in with the new.
The older I get; the younger I get. I see younger men chasing lifestyles and values that wear them down and make them old. They are feeding their precious life energy into economic eco-systems that are unsustainable and are falling away before our eyes — because they were built upon sand, not upon rock.
For years I worked in construction as a “soil technician.” I was responsible for testing the soil and cement foundations of buildings in earthquake country Los Angeles. For those nine years of hard physical labor, I saw every day how critical the foundation is to the long term health and sustainability of expensive projects. I had to analyze what contractors were doing and insure that it was built according to code.
When my own life began unraveling with severe health problems, relationship and economic problems, and subsequent mental health issues, I was FORCED to step back and audit my life in a similar way. “What in hell was I doing, and where was it getting me?” I was the father of four young sons at the time and helping my ailing mother, so my answers to those questions had ramifications not only for me, but for people I dearly loved.
After an intensive audit of my mind, spirit, and body, I began training in Qigong and Tai Chi as a way to address my physical and mental health issues. The results of that minor adjustment of a few minutes a day and where I focused my mind and what I did with my body had a radically positive effect. I went from a lifestyle that was unsustainable to one set on a solid foundation. I shifted quickly from the “red” to the “black.” I cut out some things that were unhealthy for my internal economy, and replaced them with things that added equity and value.
As we grumble about paying out money to the government, pause to take a deeper look at your ledger book. You are a quarter into the New Year. “What in the hell are you doing and where is it getting you?” Audit your mind, spirit, and body and see what comes up. If you do not have the foresight and courage to do so, your unsustainable internal economy will collapse upon itself, and go “the way of all flesh.” Or, we as men can be proactive and budget out our precious life energy into systems, relationships, and values that bear real meaning for us. Personally, I want to end up in the black this year.
Previously published on FrankBlaney.com
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