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Who Do I Hire to Get Divine Mission?
what can we really afford to not do?
Where I grew up, everyone could repair their cars and trucks—up to a certain threshold. When something went wrong that passed your threshold, you called a friend with a higher one. It was a point of pride to be self-sufficient, to rely on your own skills and knowledge—but it was more than that too. It was the lived expression of a hard simple fact: we can’t afford to have other people do this for us; we have to do it ourselves.
I get culture shock over and over again, meeting people whose first instinct for a given problem is to hire someone, buy something, make it someone else’s proble through sheer force of cash. It had never occurred to me that this was an option for so many things; one of the wonders of money, it turns so many problems to dust—and if the dust becomes a problem, hire a cleaner.
There’s value in each side of the spectrum, and it takes a lot of discernment to respect the dynamic between them. Most often, the impulses become automatic habits, leanings that shape the way every problem in your life is approached.
Far from the land of home car repair—the land of “we can’t afford to have other people do this, so we have to learn to do it ourselves,”—lies the land of “we’ll pay someone to do this.”
If you’ve got the money, this can be effective for a lot of tasks: cleaning the house, fixing a car, getting the landscaping done, making your home look and feel beautiful. I can’t imagine how good it feels to be able to make a couple calls and simply have all this done for you.
The benefits diminish in the realm of the heart and mind. You can pay for a therapist, for example—but that therapist is only a small part of the work you need to be doing, both in and out of their office. If you’re not approaching them with a strong bone-deep ethos of this is my responsibility, I must apply myself to this task, then your therapist is basically a very expensive tape recorder who occasionally plays your voice back so you can hear yourself.
This point isn’t trivial; it’s the whole thing. If you, consciously or unconsciously, are carrying an attitude of I paid someone to make this problem go away, so it’s as good as taken care of—you’re going to be pretty hopeless when it comes to aspects of your life that can only be affected by you, your self, your mind, your heart, your soul.
Speaking of soul, that’s where this attitude-reflex-schema seems to consistently hit a dead end, as far as I can tell. The only questions becomes whether the person can tell they’ve hit a dead end or not.
You can buy the right meditation books, go to the exclusive $10k month-long retreats off the coast of Japan, attend ayahuasca retreats and shamanic ceremonies and pay for an expansion of your church’s sanctuary. If you’re coming from the core impulse of who do I hire to make my problems go away?, you won’t get much further than other people can carry you—which isn’t very far at all.
My automatic instinct, when I start a new project, is to do everything myself. This impulse gets groan-inducingly comical sometimes. A few weeks ago, I started planning out my Integrated Aliveness course, and the first question was “what platform can I use to host it?” A couple options looked good, but they cost upwards of $1200/year, which I can’t really afford.
The obvious solution that came to me—a grown adult and college graduate who has travelled the world and paid taxes and everything—was to simply build a new app for myself. There are services like Bubble that let you build a no-code app, and they only cost like $25/month, so all I have to do is build an app from scratch, and then I’ll be free to build the course from scratch and then build the community element from scratch and then build a marketing plan from scratch and then—
When I came out of the fever dream (5 or 6 days tinkering with no-code tools), I realized that I was doing the thing again as my girlfriend cackled (she’s a charming cackler).
I took some deep breaths, re-centered in my core task—and decided that I was going to have to either settle on a cheaper platform, or raise $1200 from somewhere.
In other words, I was gonna have to allow the Hire Someone impulse to take over.
I’m grateful for where I come from, even though it has taken me some time to soften my approach. My work in somatics, the imaginal, mythopoetics, and meditation has all been driven by a core ethos: "Can I figure out how this works, so I can work with it myself?"
Whenever I’ve gotten effective bodywork done, I’ve always viewed it as an investment—one part of me is ‘The Me Receiving Bodywork,’ and another part of me is ‘The Me Who Is Reverse-Engineering Everything the Bodyworker Does.’
Thinking back on it now, I’m remembering one of the few times my family had to take our van into the shop and get it fixed—my dad asked to stay around the garage and watch what they were doing, so he could do it himself if it happened again.
This feels to me like a helpful impulse. True, I almost always have to tone it down and walk backwards from my starting point. But that impulse to figure out how much of a task I can do on my own (or with informal help from people I know) does feel like a powerful starting point.
Even if I end up paying someone else for every single aspect of a project, there’s a lot of value to this immediate reflex of total ownership and responsibility.
And more importantly: keeping this sense of ownership and responsibility as an intuitive reflex, it creates a baseline.
It keeps me in the first-person, living my own life and taking my own actions.
It keeps me out of third-person living, always looking for someone or something else to take action for me.
As I learn to walk it back, respect my time, and depend on others, I still hold onto this sense of ownership and responsibility. I have learned to hire a cleaner every few weeks and call my friends to see if they have a higher skill-threshold for certain things than me. But the baseline remains.
When it comes to the things that matter most, the deeper currents of heart and mind and soul: we can’t afford to have other people do this for us; we have to do it ourselves.