Follow the Money

Cui bono? (Literally, “for whose benefit?”)
~ Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla

I routinely read that my work is rooted in money. This claim, while false, is not surprising. After all, most people work for one reason: money.

Lacking passion, lacking purpose, the vast majority of people within this culture chase money for one reason: tradition. That’s what they’ve always done. That’s what the culture “tells” them to do. That’s what everybody does.

Were I motivated by money, I’d have never pursued an academic life. Initially, it’s an intellectually grueling existence for a modest wage. And I’d certainly have never left that life, once comfortably ensconced in the privileged position of tenured full professor. After all, I was paid a comfortable salary and not required to teach. I could’ve put my life on cruise control and lived out my days traveling the world and otherwise pursuing a life of leisure. Presumably, the people in my life would have remained friends had I sold out in this expected manner.

Money does not define me. Lack of money constrains my ability to conduct my work. It does not constrain my ability to conduct my life.

I no longer earn money from the books I’ve written. Initially I earned royalties of about fifty cents per copy sold. These payments totaled a few hundred dollars per year during the best of times. That was before the publishers of all my recent books declared bankruptcy. I write because my message is important, not because it is lucrative.

I don’t earn money with my public speaking. Rather, every tour costs more than is returned via donations. I tour to speak because my message is important, not because touring is lucrative. Rather, it’s physically and emotionally grueling.

I don’t earn money from my daily activities at Homestead 2.0 in Belize. I’m busily pursuing a life of leisure, as I’ve indicated previously. My life as a teacher continues via hosting Workaway guests. And I still respond to the endless demands on my time from people unwilling to use an online search engine or familiarize themselves with my expansive body of work. None of these time-intensive activities put money in my pockets. I conduct them because my message is important, not because my work is financially lucrative.

I do not earn money from the mugs, tote bags, iPhone cases, tee shirts, and other pragmatic goods affiliated with my latest book. These items have returned far less money than it cost to create and distribute them. I list them at the bottom of posts in this space in support of my artistically inclined partner, who created them.

My primary source of potential income is the Only Love Remains workshop I co-created and now facilitate about once annually in Belize. So far, costs exceed revenue for each offering. Perhaps once before I die it’ll net a few hundred dollars in exchange for the thousands of hours I’ve put into it. But I doubt it. Again, the workshop is offered because coming to grips with my message is important, not because conducting the workshop is lucrative. Rather, it is physically, intellectually, and emotionally grueling.

Were it not for the frugal life I’ve conducted, along with the generosity of partners, friends, and supporters, I’d have been living even closer to the monetary edge for the last several years. None of this is new, for those paying attention.

My point: My message matters. It matters to me, considerably more than luxury. It matters to others, if I’m to believe the positive messages I receive every day.

Does my message matter to you? My answer is modified from a bumper sticker, ironically: Acceptance of abrupt climate change is optional, although participation is mandatory.

Cui bono? Who benefits from my message? Only the willing.