GET RICH OR GET OUT!

Two years ago, I posted a long piece entitled "THE END OF THE JOB!" It was about many things related to our changing work-life consciousness, and worth reading if you have a bit of time over the holidays. The title itself came from the September 19, 1994 cover story of Fortune Magazine, of all places. Again, worth reading if you have the time. In short, what the Fortune article made clear was something I had already come to realize - that working by the hour at a traditional "job" was not going to cut it any more in terms of providing financial well-being or stability down the road, unless, of course, you were either willing to live a minimalist subsistence lifestyle through old age, or work full-time well into your 70's and beyond.

In 1994, when that article came out, I had just turned forty. I didn't have any fears about getting older. I still don't. In fact, I always have and still do look forward to getting on in years. But what I did realize at that time, as I began my approach to mid-life, was that the country I grew up in economically was gone, a country in which my working-class parents could buy a 4-bedroom house on a quarter of an acre of land, half-an-hour from New York City, for substantially less that I just paid for a 4-cylinder car in 2008! Yep. You heard that right. And furthermore, in my childhood, all of my friends - the sons and daughters of house painters, carpenters, plumbers, garbage collectors, school teachers, deli-owners - all lived in comfortable private houses, as well, and like my dad, the fathers were the only wage-earners in the families. Get it? One working-class level income got you a roomy house, at least one car, a yearly summer vacation and a college education for the kids, if they wanted one. Today? Well, you know the story. Two, three, even four incomes per household barely gets you a living, and only at that if you go into substantial debt to boot.

I took up a mission in the mid-nineties. I began telling everyone, including the people that I advised as a therapist, that they needed to understand not just the realities of their own financial situations, but even moreso that they needed to understand that the infection of deregulated greed and corruption ravaging the body of America's economy wasn't going away anytime soon. Working for a living just wasn't going to cut it anymore, if you wanted to finish out the last rounds of your life at any level of comfort and quality. Nor were you going to be able to live on what, if anything you'd put away for the future. Most working or middle-class people didn't have any kind of significant savings or pensions they could rely on, and even if they did for a while, the debacles caused by the nefarious bank and hedge fund managers and other market manipulators eliminated those modest nest eggs for 95% of the population.

So, what was/is one to do in the face of these harsh realities?

"Invest in yourself" became my mantra.

In a piece I wrote earlier this year, entitled "YOU ARE THE ONLY GAME THAT ISN'T RIGGED," spinning of a brilliant piece of journalism by Matt Taibbi, that's what I advised. If you have a gift, a talent or a passion, then explore it, develop it, express it in the world somehow, especially if it's something that doesn't require working for a wage by the hour. And if you find yourself blocked in that area, then, for your sake, do the self-work necessary to unblock yourself, whatever it takes.

That's how I started on my own track to become a writer 8 years ago. As much as my work as a psychotherapist was a true calling for me, it was nonetheless a by-the-hour proposition, and therefore had a ceiling in terms of its capacity to produce wealth for me. So, in 2001, I began what I now call my "GET RICH OR GET OUT" journey. Simply put, I set myself on a course that would inevitably end with me becoming financially independent, either because I'd become wealthy enough to enjoy the material benefits of western society without having to "work for a living" until old age, or because I had dropped out of mainstream culture altogether and gone off the grid.

I still can't say yet which of the two alternatives will play out for my future. Last week, with the help of the wonderful director/actor/author, Paul Michael Glaser, I held a staged reading of the pilot episode of a television show I created. Last month, a screenplay I co-wrote with someone won Best Action Adventure Screenplay at the Gotham Film Festival. Clearly, I haven't given up on writing as a potential road to abundance for myself and my family. However, last night, I found myself talking with the love of my life about the possibility of moving to Canada sometime in the future to escape the crooks and liars that are gutting this country and make a fresh start in a healthier land.

I'll keep you posted.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great picture of you and Mr. Glaser.

I sure wish I could join you in Canada. Definitely agree about what is happening to this country.

caseydancer said...

Wow, congratulations on the Gotham award and thanks so much for this article.

It almost brought tears to my eyes because it is this exact concept I cling to when the fears about my future creep in. That my gift, my passion and my joy is writing, and so writing must be the path I'm meant to follow to lead me out of this dark, suffocating, dead-end, hand-to-mouth-til-the-day-I-die life.

You're inspiring.

Anonymous said...

We need you Peter; don't go to Canada!!! I & F

 

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