Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ups and Downs

Sometimes I feel the weight of our life decisions. This morning was one of those. We got awful sleep last night. And this morning Pax was crying and grunting and I just couldn't get away from it except by actually leaving the house. Our small space sometimes seems to close in on us.

Yesterday something really bad happened. Our external backup hard drive died. Yah, the hard drive that was backing up Holly's hard drive that died a month ago...that one died. Right. The unfortunate thing is that we didn't have a backup for our you?!? So, after attempting some data recovery with some consumer-level software, we realized that we would need to call a data recovery place. I told him the symptoms and he said, "Well, be thankful that the drive is still spinning. Once it stops spinning, it could cost between $2000-8000." What the ?!?!?!?!?!? But since it's still spinning, it should be less than $1000. Wow. Wow. Wow. And we have to buy a new backup to replace this one (and perhaps a new backup for our backup?!?).

Wow. That made for a helluva day honestly. Followed by a really bad night of sleep.

I feel like we push ourselves to live in the margins. We host people 4-5 nights a week. We're attempting to get our lives rooted in a deeper, more cosistent spirituality. We take on more work and at lower costs than we ought to. But we do it because we love the people, hunger for a "good life", and need the money to pay off silly college debt.

The whole freelance thing is amazingly romantic...really, it is. We are our own bosses. If we need a vacation, we take one (but we don't get any PTO). If we don't want to do a project, we don't (although I cannot remember the last time we turned down a project). can be hugely taxing. Feast or famine, baby. And trying to get people to pay us what we're owed or to stay on schedule can be a bit painful. And neither Holly or I really like playing "Businessman" with our clients.

Here's the wild thing: 2 nights ago, the kid gave us an 8-hour stretch of sleep. And things seemed to be looking up. I passed off the new The Cobalt Season album to Dan to work on for a bit, so that was being tended to. We had a couple clients contact us that we really respect, asking us to do work for them. We had a little space here and there to think thoughts, read a page or two or journal here and there.

But this morning, I had no space. Neither did Holly. So I left to Martha and Brothers Coffee down the street and I sit here typing.

I am becoming more and more aware of my own limitations and of our limitations as a family. We've always prided ourselves on our life-flexibility and ability to do things that others have told us we couldn't do. I am coming to terms, more and more everyday, with the fact that I have limited finances, limited time, and limited emotional-social energy. Yet I continue to spend all resources as though I have an unlimited amount...I don't.

Last year, we gave away 25% of the money we made...that SharpSeven made. We didn't realize this until I crunched the numbers a few weeks back when we were working on our budget. We gave money away somewhat flippantly (although we called it generously and hoped others would, too). I kept calling to mind the Malachi passage about giving, and I was convinced if I could just give money away, we'd be taken care of.

It simply wasn't true. And there's nothing like cold, hard facts about personal debt to call this idealist to the mat. One friend says it because we were giving money away that we didn't actually have. I dunno. Maybe. Perhaps it's that I wanted to play the role of the "donor" which can actually boost one's ego. I dunno. I dunno. I dunno.

So, here's the deal (if you're actually still reading), if you have the little Holly and Ryan voodoo dolls, please put them down. Leave us alone. Let us try to get back to some sort of zero, please? Please?


Anonymous said...

if its any encouragement, just know that anna and i find you and your life inspirational. i know it's not always the romanticized bullshit that most people think it is, but its still inspiring. i'm a freelance designer too. she's working towards freelancing in photography and design as well. and we've started up the whole communal living thing with some friends. we wouldn't be in places like that without people like the sharps.

but besides that trite little note, i know the overwhelming, almost suffocating tension between security and flippancy. you're not the only one so perhaps there is solace in taht.

Anonymous said...

Would love to echo that comment too... you guys really inspire me and encourage me to stand up and act for the things I want to see happen in my life, and not just to sit back and let the world steal away my love and compassion and desire to give.

Though also know where you're coming from with the student debt stuff (not the baby!). I'm a first year student, 3 more years to go. Crazy ccrazy amounts of debt. But where are the ways round it? There is bound to be some??

Eric Wakeling said...

I would like to offer up some encouragement too and to let you know that I just prayed for you after reading the post. Your lives are truly inspirational to me and I am in awe of the gifts that God has given both of you. I still wish I was rich and could buy Holly's art for lots and lots of cash. I agree with Josh that it is refreshing to read that this fascinating life you are living isn't all carefree and easy. It's a great metaphor for living the Kingdom. Nobody said it's easy to be a Christ-follower, but that's why many people "join up."

So I guess I can just say "thank you" for who you are and the life you live. Keep living it. It matters.

Melvin Bray, coordinating storyteller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melvin Bray, coordinating storyteller said...

damn, bruh. i feel ya… on so many levels…

if you ever find a way to make deposits in the kingdom of God without making simultaneous withdrawals in the other kingdoms around, let me know. i'm debt-weary myself.

a year and a half into a dedicated search for some kind of economic stability, a search that seems to get frustrated at every turn, i've come to a profound realization: shit happens... and the way of Jesus seems to lead right into it. it's another way that seeks to avoid struggle, not caring that it's in struggle that we learn and grow and find our being (at least that's what I'm telling myself right now).

thank you for your willingness to live in the struggle for the sake of the kingdom (i join the others in saying you inspire me). may you find sustenance there (hear us, oh God). and don't forget to clue the rest of us in when you do ;-).