May the 4th Be With You

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Time is the most precious commodity to me. My mother died at age 44 and from that moment on, I have felt that I was living on borrowed time. Because of this issue, I hate wasting time and try to be productive all the time. Relaxing is not easy for me. The minute after I sit down with a cup of tea, I jump up and carry it around while I dust and putter. I also toss books aside if the writing doesn’t grab me, not wanting to waste time with a dull book. A friend recently convinced me to get a copy of Michener’s Chesapeake, for example, and after 150 pages (of about 10,000) I laid it aside. It just didn’t resonate with me. Instead I am rereading Mistry’s A Fine Balance: a beautiful, finely crafted novel. Reading Mistry, a Booker Prize nominee, is well worth my time.

Along the same lines, I took the afternoon off to attend a business seminar, expecting to learn a bunch. After years of teaching, I am impatient with presenters who use certain techniques to keep the audience awake. This presenter, a man who had good things to say and who showed me how little I actually know about business, continually asked the audience to raise our hands if we ever did this or that. Or “Stand up if you ever…” At a point early in the presentation, the audience stopped raising our hands and/or standing up, and the presenter became irritated.

“You will never be successful if you don’t_______?” he asked.

“Start?” someone ventured.





“Yes. That’s the word I was looking for.” As if this was an exercise in mind-reading.

“If you participate 100%, you will get back 100%. How many of you believe that?”

I didn’t raise my hand. And neither did several others. I don’t believe that trying hard translates to automatic success. A lesson I learned in teaching in Juvie was that giving 100% meant that I was doing a good job, but it didn’t necessarily lead to student achievement or even student cooperation. Too many other factors not connected to me or to my effort got in the way.

“Well it’s true!” he snapped. “Let’s start participating, people!”

I try hard in the store to find great things to sell, to arrange them attractively, and to offer them at a fair price, but that doesn’t mean that 100% of the customers will buy something.

The presentation was created to appeal to business owners of many different types, from shopkeepers to brick-layers, and because the advice he offered was so general, I didn’t know enough to apply it to my business. I did sign up for a counseling session with him, though, because face to face I might benefit from specific advice.

The point of the event was to increase our financial profits. Somehow, though, financial benefits are not at the top of my list. Of course I want to become more financially independent, but making money is not my number one priority. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt for new merchandise, meeting new friends, and visiting with old friends in my cozy sitting area more than making huge profits. For example, yesterday I won a door prize of six months of ads in WNC Woman Magazine. I already advertise there, so I suggested that they draw another name. Everyone looked at me as if I were crazy, except the one woman who ran over to my seat and begged me for the coupon. I gave it to her.

At the break, a man approached me and asked me how much money I wanted for the coupon. I hadn’t paid for it, so I just gave it away. But when he asked that question, it occurred to me that a real business woman would have made a little money on that transaction. I was happy to give that other fledgling business owner a hand instead.

My business feeds me in ways that are less tangible than financial gain, but I don’t want to give The Universe the wrong impression. I would be very happy to make money here!