why i don?t make money

Last night at a meeting, somebody asked me why I don’t make money. There are a lot of reasons, but lately the reason I don’t make money is this: I am a full-time student. Not at a university (though Ohio State says they’ll hand over my Philosophy degree if I take three non-Philosophy classes so I can be worldly). I’m a full-time student of compassion (truth/love/beauty). That means choosing to live in this moment, for real, and to follow the love wherever it leads.

In the past, I’ve been a freelancer, a diy entrepreneur. I’ve also been something of an individualist, apparently from a really early age. I was pretty happy about that for a long time, but now collaboration seems just so interesting! I don’t want to DIY anymore. I don’t want to hang out a shingle offering what I’m good-enough at to people who find me refreshing and affordable. Though I did enjoy integrating compassion into the way I do business.

But these days, collaboration seems to be the central lesson in my compassion curriculum. I thought I knew a little about it, but I was full of crap. I’ve been fighting this lesson for months, I think. But now, I’m just enthralled with the topic.

Getting a job

I remember saying to a supervisor-type once, “It’s not supposed to be this way. I don’t want to do this.” He said “You have no choice.” Not the right things to say to motivate me. :) I won’t tell you my reply, but I didn’t work there much — any, actually — longer.

I have adopted some practices I haven’t figured how to fit into “job” life. I don’t wear heels, and I always tell the truth. The heels, I could probably get around, but the always telling the truth could be a problem.

I don’t mean the kind of “truth” that’s made up of generated judgments about things being awesome / ugly / wrong / right / fat / stoopid… those ideas can be discussed, debated, and improved on as part of collaboration, but they’re just ideas. Truth is what I experience… joy, fear, affection, annoyance, sorrow, excitement… things like that. I generally don’t smile when I’m sad or nod when my gut is in knots. I say “Wow. My gut is in knots.” At least that’s the intention.

Follow the love.

I started on this path (as a student of compassion) because I have a really low tolerance for pain. I’m a crazy person, and there was a time I could only survive with antidepressants. I’m judgmental, scared and needy. But because I have such a low tolerance for those things, I’ve had to learn nonjudgment, grace, and interdependence.

Now I am beginning to get those things, and getting them saves my butt often enough, but I’m still the same person, prone to fall into fear, oblivious to the rope of love that I could grab if I could only see it.

If I stray from this path, try to put on a brave face, write a resume that cleverly highlights my strengths while hiding my weaknesses, I am guessing the result wouldn’t be pretty.


Oh, but collaboration! I’m developing a real craving for it. That’s ok, though. If I sit with the craving and don’t pursue it with clinging-attention, it will come. And it will come clean, without need for heels, or a cleverly crafted resume, or smiling when I’m scared.

3 thoughts on “why i don?t make money

  1. Wow!!! I really love this post! I really feel the same way myself.

    This reminds me of when I put in my application to be a coworker at Camphill Soltane in late 2008 – they asked you to write an autobiography about yourself within the application, and I just poured out my soul, free-form style. Later on during the phone interview I did the same. A few days after that, I got notice that I was accepted in as a new coworker!

  2. Ian, you warm my heart. Just when I post something I’m kicking myself for, you come and love it. :)

    Part of why I’m kicking myself: Someone told me they thought this post said “Nobody else pays me; why should you?” That’s just about the opposite of what I thought it said. I think I what I meant to say was “Hire me! If you like, you know, love and compassion and honesty, I’d love to work with you. I’m walking away from what doesn’t work for me, but I’m ready to walk toward something beautiful, something that resonates.”

    Now I’m wondering which message other folks got. “I give up?” or “I have hope & joy”?

    Oh, and a few hours after I wrote this it hit me. All I really want to do is teach. That’d be so much easier if I could stand institutions, but alas. It is what it is. ^_^

  3. Thanks for the post, Angela. I’m grateful you published it even though you wondered “what was I thinking” (as you tweeted this morning).

    Your candor is refreshing. And it’s great to read your thoughts and to be challenged as I am reminded how easy it is to do certain things because they are what I’m “supposed to do”.

    You remind me that I’d rather make nothing as a student of compassion and a person of truth than becoming an empty suit.

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