The Having (Adult Poetry)

The third in a series of four poems written sequentially at different points in a relationship. Enjoy and thank you for reading.

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Subservient to a Dominating Influence

Slavery is not a new concept by any means and it has existed for centuries worldwide in various forms. Yes, it is the 21st century and we are living here in Canada, a ‘civilized’ country by most indicators and modern standards. Upon casual observation and research slavery is illegal here in Canada. Taking a closer look is unnerving and will rattle your cage!

Slave: “one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence” (Merriam-Webster, 2016)

Most of us weave through life searching for our identities, loves, paths and purpose generally following the status quo. Yes, some of us choose our own life paths entirely and consciously… we know that slavery is alive and very prevalent in 21st century Canada.

We go to grade school (graduating or not), then we make choices to either continue our education or work, or travel, or something else. At some point we begin to understand that life can be more if we can just have more of what we need to get more… usually that is money.

This is where things can become confusing, fast. We hear others say things like: “money is the root of all evil”, “not having money is the root of all evil”, “life is more fun with money than without”, “wish we had more money”, “need, want, got-to-have”.

Regardless of where we live in Canada, money is required to exist… unless of course you plan on going 100% off the grid, which by most practical standards is just about not legal! We must live somewhere. We either rent, or purchase a place to live. That requires money. Unless one has access to a padded trust fund, that means working.

Ok, now we have a roof over our heads, hopefully one that does not leak. What about food and eating? Money. Yes, we could grow our own basic food, but then we also have to fit in going to work so we can pay for our home. That wears thin quickly. It becomes easier and more cost-effective to work and purchase our food. Work.

We have to wear clothing, footwear, we may need eyeglasses, medications, personal care items – we could call this having the basic needs of life being met. Money.

We have not yet begun to touch on wants and desires and the 21st century concept of ‘modern slavery’ has already started to define itself. No money equals a dismal existence. (This particular blog is not about the welfare system, so we won’t visit there!).

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Modern media in all of its various forms brings all of the wants, desires, must haves right into our most personal space, constantly: cars, computers, furniture, clothing… stuff. We quickly learn that getting these things can be as simple as applying for a credit card or five, lines of credit, second and third mortgages on our homes, loans and oh so much more!

Here we are in 21st century Canada with a home mortgage or rent to pay, several credit card balances, a car loan or two, student loans, lines of credit to pay… we must continue to work to generate an income that will pay for our chosen existence. If we are ‘lucky’ we like our chosen job or work and for the most part smile a bit each day. On we go day by day choosing to work in order to pay for the privilege of living. We know people who borrow two moths out with their paychecks from work in order to survive. We know people who, ‘have it all’, but are so deep in debt that all hope of actually enjoying life begins to fade. We know people who work hard, play hard, look happy for sure, but drop dead at 35 from stress induced cancer.

…”one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence”.

Where do you fit in? Are you, right now, justifying your existence? Should we have to justify our existence, our subservient existence, to make it sit better in our minds?

A few years ago I gathered all of my things, my stuff, sorted out what I truly ‘needed’ and either sold or gave the rest away to family and friends. I moved to South America, down to 48 degrees or so south latitude. I lived surrounded by like-minded souls who also had very little, mostly only what they needed to survive, but were the happiest people I have ever met and known. I was so very happy with so very little. There was no need to have more, nobody to compete with, no ego trips needed. Unfortunately I had to return to Canada. My life is different again, but I have made certain very conscious choices that enable me to just skirt around the outside of the subservience we are discussing here.

What was learned:

If we choose to live within our means, to exist in a definitive balance between earning money and spending money, life can sit tenderly just on the cusp of modern slavery. Learn to be genuinely grateful for what we have, to openly love where we are at and to focus on living in the joy of each moment as it unfolds. When we choose to exist this way, we shrug off the need to compete with the ‘Joneses’ of the world. Living within our means, a balanced existence, becomes down right enjoyable, fun even. Holidays, real time-off without the stress of having to continue to pay thousands of dollars in bills each month, that can be a reality. Spending quality time with family, enjoying the simple love of life itself can be a reality.

Now, the words we dislike hearing, “it’s simply a choice”.

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Or, we can choose to continue competing with the world and become subservient to the money we require to live with that choice. This is modern 21st century slavery.

Peter Lerch, Writer/Photographer

On Being Motivated – Are You?

You have been there… tired, difficult to even get up in the morning let alone dig deep inside to reach for the fuel to get you up and going! You agonize over that feeling, just don’t want to feel that way any longer… you vaguely remember days when you used to wake up before your alarm went off, full of piss-and-vinegar, passion and lust to live! Was that real? What Happened to you? Sweat begins to bead on your brow as you think of the day ahead.

In discussion with other peers the topic of motivation does come up quite often. How do you do it? You are just so freaking happy with what you do all the time!

Yes, motivation plays a monumental role in how we experience the lives we have chosen to live. My peers assure me that it makes little difference if one chooses to work for someone else, or for themselves. In their simplest form, our lives require a certain degree of motivation in order to be fulfilling, energetic and healthy! If we reflect on where we are at and become sincerely honest with ourselves we know if we are motivated or not.

IMG_0145There are several different kinds of motivation that have an effect on our daily lives. Knowing the difference between them and how they work may help you to make life-altering decisions. You have asked yourself how you can change, how you can get back to the energetic way you once felt.

The most common form that most of us experience daily, extrinsic motivation, relies on external stimulus to get yourself in gear and get out there. If the outside source is not present, then you are simply not motivated. The wake-up alarm(s) followed by strong coffee(s) and the promise of a ‘bonus’ when the work is done are all examples of external motivation.  This even spills over into our non-work time, as we are usually exhausted, tired, tired of being tired by the time our weekend or other free time arrives. Remove that external source of motivation and we feel hollow, drained, empty and restless sleep takes over what could be quality time. Not a great way to experience your daily life is it!

A second kind, intrinsic motivation, comes from within. It’s the kind of motivation that has you waking up before your alarm goes off to get on with your day! The kind that has you neck-deep in a freezing swamp to get that once-in-a-lifetime shot of a rare water-lily with a frog and snail on it! It’s the kind of motivation that is envied by your peers, the kind that can help you to move mountains! Going for a kayak after a ten-hour day at work is pure joy! When you lay your head down to sleep, it comes easily and is such a restful and rejuvenating sleep! Intrinsic motivation can not be taken from you. It emanates from within and is yours to use. This is what we vaguely remember and have such a longing to once again experience.

Another kind of motivation worth mentioning is negative motivation. This kind is common enough in our daily lives, is mainly external, and uses negative statements and threats to get you going out the door. It’s the kind where you hate your boss, but their negative threats and comments motivate you in a sick way to get your butt in gear. Not cool… more destructive than anything else!

So let’s think about this…

Say you have chosen to be a photographer/writer and decided to work for yourself. Nobody yanking your chain, only you to hold accountable. You set your own hours, are responsible for your own results, take full credit for your own success and also for your failures. You go where you choose, when you choose and take pictures of what you want, for as long as you want and sell them to who you want, for a price you set. Your success depends directly on your efforts, your passion and your intensity… now, after some time working at this you feel sluggish, blah, and may we say, ‘unmotivated’. It happens. There are reasons, always reasons but once you begin to use those as excuses it’s downhill from there. What to do?

Stop. Simple solution: find something else to make a living with, something that motivates you from the inside! How?

The reasons we break away from convention to pursue our own dreams are many. The most powerful are our passion and intensity for creativity and autonomy! Those traits alone are incredible drivers of intrinsic motivation. Sometimes we end up taking a path that strays away from our original goals and ends up so far away from our passion and intensity of purpose that we are no longer motivated from within. We have become but a shadow of our former selves chasing only a sliver of the dream we used to have. Time to sit down and re-examine where we are at! Be true to you. No amount of external “kick-in-the-ass” is going to get you any closer to your dreams unless it steers you in a direction that re-kindles those flames of passion and intensity… those same flames that you know need no fanning from anyone other than you!

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My passion lies in nature and photographing her incredible beauty, having the privilege to freeze instants in time that will never quite be the same. Being able to humbly ask her creatures for permission to capture their intensity, their beauty and ferocity in a single instant of time… then to put words to that beauty, words that may inspire others in some way. All this to offer to you to enjoy, to embellish and maybe even use as your own source of motivation! At some point I strayed away from this and began chasing the money in wedding photography… big mistake… sure, I was good at it but hated every second of it. My motivation went down the drain and I had to force myself to appear at venues and go through the motions like a drone. I was chasing but a tiny sliver of the dream I had set out for myself. Soon alcohol and other external motivators became the inspiration to face my day. I missed days, weeks sometimes.

Stop. Simple solution: find something else to make a living with! How?

Maybe a cliché to most, but the best words of wisdom that ring clear all revolve around one thing – choice. Admit that we are unhappy, unmotivated, disgusted with where we have ended up. That’s the first step in getting back to that passionate person we used to be. Search, explore, network, do what it takes, go where you have to go in order to find what you are passionate about. “But I am not motivated to do that!” …find someone who truly believes in you and allow them to motivate you far enough to make this discovery. Once you are there and your passion for life has been rekindled the rest becomes based on intrinsic motivation. You will once again wake up before your alarm goes off, charged with the passion and energy necessary to continue creating positive opportunities for change your life!

So I did. Many years and decisions later, after bouncing desperately through the corporate management world being extrinsically motivated… I am back in nature again shooting those elusive images and loving every incredible, intense moment as it unfolds! I am once again intrinsically motivated by my creative passion and the intensity of my love for what I do. My success and everything about my day, about each moment of that day, depends on me. I’m ok with that. In fact, I won’t have it any other way. This is who I am, my life and what I choose to do with it. I motivate myself with the passion that freely flows for what I have chosen to do. If I don’t sell images or prose I eat sardines and dry bread. I’m ok with that. When I sell images or prose I eat steak and drink wine to celebrate my success! Either way I endure and love where I am at without question. I vibrate in anticipation of the next day and the possibilities for images that nature will allow me. I blush with the comments you make while viewing my images and reading my work. I shake with excitement when you love my work enough to buy it and display it in your personal environment!

Find your passion, make a choice and make a promise: When you are no longer able to motivate yourself…

Stop. Simple solution: find something else to make a living with. You now know how!

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If you are at a dead-end and need someone to pick you up, to believe in you, to kick your butt into believing in yourself once again, reach out…

Peter Lerch, Writer/Photographer