I have been thinking a lot about poverty lately.
Some months ago, Poor Kyle and I took a leap of faith.
Our leap, like that memorable portrayal in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, seemed like sheer lunacy at the time. To step off the ledge of security and stability into the vast unknown of self-employment requires equal parts courage and stupidity. Luckily, we had both.
But you know what I’ve learned about leaps of faith?
Sometimes it takes a lot longer to land than Indy would have us believe.
In his last crusade, Indiana Jones steps directly from one ledge to the other; he only feels sheer terror for about a second before he gets to heave a massive sigh of relief.
But when Poor Kyle and I leaped off our cozy, stable Ledge of Financial Security, we jumped feet first into the longest free-fall of our lives. We had discussed leaping for many months before we actually did it, and we felt fairly prepared…but all it takes is one ounce of confidence for the Fates to zero in on your head and dump a bucket of crap on it.
We went for six weeks basically without a paycheque amidst the months of property taxes, summer school tuition, an ill-timed trip to New York, mortgage payments doubling, and various other financial goblins popping out from underneath rocks to give us mini-heart attacks every other day or so.
It was a frightening time. As in, I felt fright in my soul. I never considered ourselves the living-from-paycheque-to-paycheque kind of family, but I also never considered that we really only had to wait fifteen days for more money to magically appear in our bank account.
Let me tell you what, right around week four and a half, I started to lose sleep—a lot of sleep.
Interestingly, though, during that poorest time of our lives, Poor Kyle and I argued the least about money—what’s the point in arguing about something that doesn’t exist, you know?
And even more interesting is that as soon as we finally did get a paycheque, it was less than twenty-four hours before I thought we needed to open up a separate savings account for taxes, and Poor Kyle thought that was stupid and that we should just leave it all in our chequing account (And not spend it? Yeah right.), and before long we were slamming doors and hanging up without saying goodbye again. Just like the old days.
So what I mean to say is this:
A lot of good can come from the terror of destitution. Fewer arguments, malnutrition weight loss, et cetera. It was only when I stopped buying groceries so we could pay our mortgage that I decided I should maybe start teaching piano lessons and proofreading/editing and applying for jobs and dropping some classes and foregoing salon appointments and so forth. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say—or in my case, poverty is the mother of Getting a Life.
I write this post like the story is over—like we’ve reached our final destination—because people like to read happy endings. But in truth, it’s still a long way from finished. I haven’t quite got a life yet, we haven’t quite built up the savings we need, I can’t quite look back on it and laugh. We’re breathing easier right now, yes. But I will never forget the six most troubling weeks of my life.
And I think that’s probably a good thing.