Being Broke (LOL) and Doing It Anyway

Having nothing more than those two pennies was both horrible and just the slightest bit funny, the way being flat broke at times seemed to me. As I stood there gazing at Elk Lake, it occurred to me for the first time that growing up poor had come in handy. I probably wouldn’t have been fearless enough to go on such a trip with so little money if I hadn’t grown up without it.

I’d always thought of my family’s economic standing in terms of what I didn’t get: camp and lessons and travel and college tuition and the inexplicable ease that comes when you’ve got access to a credit card that someone else is paying off. But now I could see the line between this and that — between a childhood in which I saw my mother and stepfather forging ahead over and over again with two pennies in their pocket and my own general sense that I could do it too.

Before I left, I hadn’t calculated how much my journey would reasonably be expected to cost and saved up that amount plus enough to be my cushion against unexpected expenses. If I’d done that, I wouldn’t have been here, eighty-some days out on the PCT, broke, but okay — getting to do what I wanted to do even though a reasonable person would have said I couldn’t afford to do it.

This passage in Cheryl Strayed’s Wild struck me as terribly relevant to my life journey. Perhaps it is also relevant to your life journey.

The parts that spoke to me:
1. I, also, have found moments of being flat broke to be funny, in my case, more than just the slightest bit. Nothing funnier than bad situations you bring completely on yourself. This, of course, is a luxury that comes with knowing that being broke is temporary.

2. That you can prepare as much as you can for things but sometimes you just have to do them and trust that things will work out — I believe this. Every time I’ve moved to a new city, I could not afford to move to that new city, but I did it anyway. My fallback was very often a credit card, which, we all know how that worked out (it worked out with $20,000 in debt), but … it worked out. Things work out, mostly.)

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