The pay and the cost of opportunity

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The pay and the cost of opportunity
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photos and writing
by @d-pend


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A pay and a cost

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Often, when looking at conditions in life, we simplify them as either paying or costing us something. Our job pays us, so we can pay the cost of rent. Yet our job also has a cost component (taking our time, energy, etc.) and our rent also has a pay component (providing us with shelter, amenities, perhaps maintenance.) Indeed, every opportunity, every slice-of-life has both a pay and a cost.

Many aspire to relatively high-paying positions such as brain or heart surgeons, yet fail to consider that these occupations have a huge cost: many years of intensive study, often exorbitant tuition fees, and even once the training is completed — erratic hours, high stress, malpractice concerns, etc. If one's "true calling" is in this area, the cost becomes more than worth it, as one is happy to do work seen to be meaningful at whatever cost. If not, we may put ourselves in a personally constructed hell by chasing after dollar-signs and failing to consider what it will cost us to get that elusive high pay.

Another example could be elite athletics, where the glamour and glitz of all those millions entices uncounted aspirants; though it is worth asking whether one is willing to face the generally intense wear-and-tear to one's body which lasts a lifetime in exchange for perhaps a couple decades of physical prowess. Again, if one feels born to pursue this path, it would definitely be worth it. Otherwise, the millions may not be a fair recompense for a potentially shortened lifespan and degraded quality-of-life once one is too old to be competitive.

On the other hand, humble occupations that do not pay particularly well might be extremely appealing for their perhaps more relaxed lifestyles. Perhaps one opts to live more off-grid and has a small homestead that is relatively self-sufficient, reducing one's expenses to the point that one doesn't need much to be content. The pay here can actually be huge if one is looking for a homelier existence: though in fact, being a homesteader can be rather grueling depending on the extent of one's livestock, crops, and building projects. Yet again, we come back to the statement that if one feels destined to farm, the personal cost in terms of labor is quite worth it. If one feels forced into it, resentment and lack of fulfillment is likely to follow.


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The freedom to explore

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Human beings naturally loathe being imprisoned, but have the ability to suppress that loathing mentally. Our consciousness is so powerful that it is relatively facile for us to convince ourselves that a near-unbearable situation is fine. The human capacity for denial and self-delusion is great. What is greater still, however, is the intense urge of that indefinable part of ourselves that craves a meaningful existence that is compatible with our innate proclivities and philosophical leanings. When this core of our being is focused upon, it is as a tiny ember that grows into a roaring bonfire when fed by the fuel of awareness.

In seeking towards those areas that satisfy our deeply-felt craving for meaningfulness, we have the freedom to explore and try out various costumes. Through our lives, most of us end up donning various garbs and playing a wide variety of roles. Behind these various masks lies a unified beingness that is relatively unaffected by our morphing outer appearance. That core part of us gleans subtle lessons from every opportunity and only increases in brilliance through the experiences of life. That wholeness of self only appears to vanish in our perception based on the mind's tendency to subdivide and separate components of existence into comprehensible categories.

The same freedom that allows us to wend here and there as wanderers of a wide world also presents the danger of a multitude of traps and pitfalls for the non-vigilant. There are endless temptations to succumb to the more destructive aspects of human nature in exchange for wealth, fame, influence, control, etc.: which present themselves as the ultimate in human attainment, when in actuality they are too often fleeting, insubstantial and relatively unsatisfying. During our lifelong adventure there are few gifts we can give ourselves so valuable as fearless self-honesty, because ignorance lends a temporary solace of torpor, while truth gives eternal rest along with temporarily intense pain.

We will know intuitively what pursuits leave us "solely satisfied" by to what degree the labors involved leave us energized and pleasantly-exerted feeling. The costs will be comprehended as necessary sacrifices of doing what we truly enjoy, and the pay — however meagre or great — will be seen as icing on the cake, necessary fuel for a successful career. I truly wish for all sentient beings the bravery to give themselves permission to pursue that perhaps unrealistic calling that whispers to one with the voice of the inevitable, which will not cease to hum until heeded, at which point the harmony of its rapturous chorus only swells ever-more exuberant while we pull the fated sword from the stone and take its glorious responsibility upon ourselves.


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writing and images by Daniel Pendergraft,
created to be published on-chain April 12, 2020.

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