Fear - For Better or Worse
When I was little, my big fears were tornadoes and that our house would burn down while we were on vacation. I still worry about these two events (which is why my house has a basement and I have insurance), but now I also have to worry about mundane, adult fears. Like choking (I had a colleague who died this way), falling down the stairs (never wear clogs while doing the laundry) or the death of a loved one (na, na, na, na, I can’t hear you).
This month, I’m obsessed with what would happen if I lost my job. When I was in my 20s, I was so career nimble. I would load up my car and hop from city to city, job to job in search of adventure and more responsibility. Then I acquired furniture and the moves required a truck. Finally, I started working at WKSU, and I stopped (technically, I still moved twice after taking the job - but I didn’t change hairdressers, doctors, or banks - so it doesn’t really count).
It’s been a great journey at WKSU. The job has changed me - and I’ve changed the job. But, now I worry that I’ve become too much what I do, and when you work for a specialized non-profit, that’s not always good. I don’t plan on leaving, but our current economy seems to be offering up some unwelcome surprises. WHYY in Philadelphia (home to Terry Gross and Fresh Air) laid off 16 employees this week and NPR laid off 13 - bringing their total since December to 77. Where we (and by “we,” I mean pretty much everyone in America) could speculate that there was always someone who could use what we could bring to the table, that’s not commonly the case now.
As a single homeowner, I don’t have a second income as cushion. Mortgage, utilities, food - it’s all me. But this fear of losing everything, something The Great Depression reminds us is completely possible, shouldn’t stop us from succeeding. If anything, we need fear to prompt us to be creative, to think differently and try new things. Not crazy, house-flipping, get rich quick schemes, but the way future Internet geeks worked in their parents’ garages to create a global revolution. Or the onslaught of TV forcing radio to do a 360. Staying the course isn’t really an option - grabbing at low hanging branches will only keep us swirling in the middle of the rapids. We have to reach beyond ourselves and the current situation and move towards a fantastic future.
Meanwhile, May is don’t use your credit cards month. We’ll see how that goes…