Marion Harrington Clarinet

The Power of Choice and Coping with Change

In all aspects of my life I guess you could say that I've been a bit of a control freak. While intellectually I welcome change as inevitable and necessary for growth, when it's presented to me more or less as a fait acompli i.e., it couldn't be clearer even if God hung a huge billboard down from a cloud with instructions on it, I tend to struggle and wriggle in rebellion.

Being based in Europe has become rather economically interesting for us 99%-ers to say the least! The sad path of the decline of Greece has been quite disturbing to watch and now it seems Spain is heading very swiftly along in the same tragic direction.

Fortunately, my music career and business interests aren't rooted solely in this country but even so with the world recession continuing to bite deep, the old adage You can't squeeze blood out of a stone rings truer than ever. I defy any entrepreneur to tell me that they haven't had to adjust their price points in a downwards direction recently albeit slight.

Yes, we do live in an abundant world where there's enough of everything for all and I certainly don't believe in waltzing around focusing on lack. However, sometimes in life you're presented with a set of circumstances where you're compelled to act.

Illogical Stupidity or Vocation?

I'm convinced that despite the worsening financial situation and growing social unrest, the Spousette and I are meant to stay in Spain. We've explored many avenues out of here and each one of them has been successively blocked to us for one reason or another.

Similarly, while where we hang out these days is nearer to civilisation than previously and seemed to be a good idea at the time, it's transpired that it's too high maintenance for a couple who have an allergy to housework and resent tending to a rather lovely garden because it actually isn't at all functional in yielding anything useful.

View From the Trenches

Back in June President Rajoy effectively sold Spain to Brussels complete with 25% national unemployment and 30% locally here in Malaga province.

New legislation passed this week raised sales tax (IVA) from 18% to 21% which will impact everything from food prices to fuel. Electricity is going up again - the second time this year; gas has already reached an all time high and it shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.

Public transport become the latest statistic in cut-backs and the tax payable on entertainment like concert tickets will increase from 8% to a whopping 21%.

It's now easier to sack people in traditional jobs - I heard from one violin contact this week who'd hadn't had his contract renewed and is having to move back home with his parents. He's in his early 30s.

Unemployment benefit is being reduced as is what little security security benefit that did exist once your dole money runs out.

And so I could go - but little is gained from looking at the negative apart from sack loads of stress and sliding into the futile mode of victim.

So What Would You Do?

We have a choice - either panic and let fear rule the day or go creative, putting our emotions into a temporary box and getting ruthlessly practical.

The majority of people seem to be in denial, hypnotized by the flickering TV lights of football, latest game show or pursuing the cult of celebrity.

Putting on my tax and finance hat for one moment, it's been clear for months that the proverbial was going to hit the fan here at some point. Now I can't decide whether we're going to end up with a United States of Europe - Spain has already lost sovereignty over its finances - or the Euro itself is going to collapse taking down the Dollar with it as fall-out hits currencies around the globe.

Personally, I don't intend being a big part of either which is one of the reasons we've become so interested in alternatives like the Transition movement - see last week's post - and have been slowly moving ourselves off the grid as far as possible.

Neither throwing money at a situation in the hope it will solve itself, nor using up negative energy running after something that doesn't exist or isn't for you and staying within a crumbling system are not viable or sustainable answers.

It's more a case of learning to think in a completely different way, continue to hold fast the the values which are most important to you and dispensing of everything that is just stuff

Working Through the Fear and Using Choice to Empower

Contemplating adapting psychologically to living in a more community orientated environment and shedding all but essential possessions like clarinet and laptop, is a pretty terrifying prospect in many respects. Trying anything new with no guarantee of the outcome always is but we live in unstable times which demand rapid adaptation.

Never forget that however difficult life may seem you always, always have choices.

We can either abandon what we have been slowly growing over the last few years and allow ourselves to become slaves to a mainstream lifestyle that is increasingly irrelevant to what we're trying to achieve or we can remain on track, stay true to what we believe we should be doing and make what can be at times difficult decisions.

To be honest, I'd rather have my freedom, fulfilment and satisfaction so that's the route we're going to take.