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A Conversation with the I Ching

I asked the oracle, "How should I focus my efforts?"

The answer I got was hexagram 41, Decreasing, changing to hexagram 19, Nearing. I didn't specify a career focus when I started, but that's my primary concern.

The second hexagram is encouraging, but I wasn't asking to have my fortune told. I asked how I should focus my attention. If the Oracle were a person that I was talking to, she might ask me what I'm trying to achieve. If my desire to make more money were paramount, then my best focus would be different than if what I really wanted to do was build a following.  I want to do both of those things, but neither one is primary.

Money would be good so that I can pay off debts, see my sons more often and provide better opportunities to them. It would help in my domestic situation as well, though I'll say no more about the particulars here. If I thought that money alone would satisfy me and give me the sense of a life well lived, I might look into lobbying for industries that have a hard time getting established here in Vermont due to environmental regulations and the general progressive attitudes of the people who live here.

Fortunately for me, and possibly unfortunately as well, I had a fat stack of money dropped on me in my early 30s, and I know, from firsthand experience, that it didn't make me happy or satisfied. Having too little has also been a source of heartache, humiliation, and resentment, so I do not intend to fetishize poverty or hold it up as an emblem of virtue.

That said, I know that the ill-will I sometimes feel for people who are doing well when more and more people are losing the security they once enjoyed presents a mental and spiritual stumbling block. If I too find a way to make a comfortable living in tough economic times, then I will have joined a tribe that I hold accountable for at least some of the injustices of the moment. That's a conundrum I don't expect to resolve today, but it needs to be acknowledged.

What about building a following. I enjoy podcasting and broadcasting, and if I were to triple the number of people who subscribe to the C-Realm Vault podcast, I'd be in a respectable position financially. That's not shooting for the moon, and a few simple steps to run my business more like a business could probably get me there with no compromise in my style or the content of the show. I haven't made those changes, even though I know I need to. See previous paragraph.

After 10 years of audio-only podcasts, I'm now spending my time and effort making YouTube videos. I can spend 5 hours making a podcast that 3,000 people will access, and I can spend 10 or more hours making a short video that only a hundred or so people will access. Why bother with video?

I could come up with sensible-sounding reasons, but they would be rationalizations. My bedrock reason is simple intuition. It seems like the thing to do at this point.
Also, I have a cast of fictional characters that I developed when was in grad school, primarily the Lion and the Chick, whom I can't bear to consign to oblivion. Creating the artistic career I've desired for decades is, at least visually, tied to them in my imagination.

I tried doing webcomics a couple of years ago, but it was too time-consuming to sustain. I'm now working to incorporate the characters into my videos. I know I won't be satisfied with what I'm doing until I put my drawing skills, such as they are, to regular use in my creative projects.

I'm conscious of framing my ambitions in terms of my desires. I'm told that desire leads to suffering and that eliminating desire is the path to overcoming self-imposed limitations. That leads me back to hexagram 41. Perhaps decreasing desire leads to my coming nearer to the fulfillment of my career ambitions. I know that some people in my life would disagree, that they see me as suffering from too little ambition, that stoking my desires would be just the thing if it prompted me to strive more.

The Oracle says:

Creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit.
Reaching an end in the eighth month means a pitfall.'

I'm down with consistency. It' actually something I'm pretty good at, so there's a morsel of encouragement that I'm willing to accept.

I don't know what to make of the eighth month pitfall.

(continued tomorrow)

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