Home > K. Experiments > The Art of Being Poor

The Art of Being Poor

So this is the deal, folks: I lost my job in fall 2009, and my unemployment benefits ran out at the end of February.

Difficulties pursue me as I try to keep everything in one piece: my apartment, utilities, social network…

As I wrestle with this latest episode of self-definition, I sometimes think of what Jane Jacobs has to say in her great book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities: life is not a work of art. It’s a difficult message for someone who’s an artist, but it reminds me that stuff left over from earlier in my life–i.e., unfinished homework–needs attending to.

And in the meantime, being poor has its lessons to teach, starting with discipline, which I take to mean recognizing and focusing on your unfinished business and living with challenges that might teach me humility and respect–taking a box of charity canned goods home, considering which church-sponsored meal might be ok to attend, trying to plan a career, instead of just taking a job. Wondering what happiness might mean for me…

We need time to process, and we are always getting older…if you’ve got what you need, you know it; if you don’t, find the courage to claim the things you need.

So life is not a work of art, but we need to make *some* sense out of it…like looking at a Pollack drip-painting, there is method (and beauty) in the madness.        RT


Photo: Budget Hotels in Tokyo; WikiCmns; CC 3.0 Unported; Author: Kounso.

  1. April 13, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Learning to live on less is a valuable experience for all who plan to make it through the future!

    • April 15, 2012 at 3:16 am

      CF5: only too true, i’m afraid; thanks for your input! RT

  2. Sharon Sieben
    April 13, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Some GOOD thinking here!

    • April 15, 2012 at 3:15 am

      sharon: thx for your support! more artists should have your good instincts! eric

  3. April 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Hello, you. This must have taken some courage, but be part of the process you mention. My brother, after three years of no job and living as you describe, has at the age of fifty-two landed a dream job. It happens. Meanwhile you live and find grace in the way you live [and don’t forget to keep voluminous notes from which to write].


    • April 15, 2012 at 3:11 am

      margo: thanks for your kind response (i especially like your advice about taking notes). Today, as my post on Mars indicates, i’m feeling a bit feistier (having eaten dinner at mom’s), but i know that the part about disicipline is still relevant to a long-term solution. Anything is possible if you want it badly enough… hope all is well in Atlanta! eric

  4. April 13, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my lifetime it’s that there’s no telling what tomorrow might bring, RT. I’ve also found that sometimes the things that seem to make no sense at all end up being the most valuable situations and moments when the story is finally revealed. Hang in there.

    • April 15, 2012 at 3:14 am

      emma: thanks for all your support–words that are, as always, especially valuable coming from someone who’s been there. eric

  5. Katrina
    April 15, 2012 at 2:46 am

    I understand how you feel, I lost my job last November (which is ok, I hated it) but I’m really struggling with starting my own business, being self employed and wrestling with the idea of taking a ‘job’ to pay the bills until everything falls into place.

    • April 15, 2012 at 3:12 am

      katrina: if west virginians aren’t tough, who is? eric

  6. April 29, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Its a tough world out there..hang on there..something good will come up soon..All the best and thanks for the following..Happy weekend..

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