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No bargaining in the strike zone

Perspective isn’t everything, but it may be the only thing. Certainly the only resource I have to make sense of the world I travel through. To it, I bring my experiences, my memory, my knowledge, and my history. Then I reflect and decide to act or not to act. This is what we all do. We have to do. Can’t do otherwise. We bring what we’ve got to the plate and take our swings.

Oh, there’s an objectiveness to things. Some things are gauged by measurables. How fast is the pitch? How low/high is the temperature? How loud is the crowd? But then there’s that ornery man dressed in black behind the plate who calls balls and strikes. He’s trained for this. Not meant to call me out, but simply to judge whether the pitch is in the strike zone. Because if it is, I only get three of those. If I don’t swing, that’s my problem. No arguing. I’m out.

Awaiting the pitch

Awaiting the pitch

It just seems reasonable, then, that if there is a strike zone and if there is an umpire and I only get three whacks at it, that I would give myself every advantage I could. I’d practice with bat and ball. Test myself against pitchers who throw hard or have great breaking balls or sliders or change ups. Whatever I might see in my at bat, I’d wanna see in practice. Perhaps I would even invite a batting coach to tell me if there were flaws in my swing. Am I dropping my shoulder or taking my eye off the ball or winging my back elbow? I’d want to know so I could correct these things.

The one thing I wouldn’t do is close my eyes or take my eye off the ball. I would open them wide and shine as much light on the game as I could. I’d want to see what I was up against to make the best swing at the best pitch I could.

I just wonder, with all of our practicing and preparing, are we getting any better at this game? Since we get multiple at bats (the better our team, the more at bats we get) are we hitting it more often? getting extra base hits or home runs or hitting better with runners in scoring position? What is our average? Are we improving?

It’s hard to tell. Because ‘things have changed.’ The equipment and the training are different. New and improved. So, with all the latest upgrades we should be better, right? We would do well to beware that the new is being applied by both sides, and the measure of our performance is relative to this. How well do we bat against that pitcher, under those circumstances, at that point in the season? So it’s hard to say if we’re getting better. Against the pitchers of yesteryear, who knows?

What we are told is this: to stay competitive in today’s game, we have to keep up. If we fall behind, we’re lost. Even if remaining competitive means we have to keep increasing our hours, keep scouting our opponents, keep training in case they are, keep doing the more that “is necessary” to stay on top.

And from inside the game, this is a very steep slide. In order to gain ground, we find ourselves clawing to keep from losing it. As if the playing field were being tipped ever so slowly to one side, we dig our fingers under home plate, dearly hoping that it is anchored to the ground and won’t give way under our weight.

What I fear is, we are people in a game where everything tips. Everything has become negotiable, on sale, or it might go on sale so we better be ready. We have the upgrades and the technology. Instant access and perpetual information. We have resources at our fingertips. Anything can be delivered online 24/7. Are we making any progress?

The smart hitter steps out of the batter’s box for a moment to pause and re-group. Consider the game situation, get the signs from the coach, grip and swing the bat in practice before standing in again. From a step away things may look just enough different that he can gain new perspective, or he may calm himself just enough to see the pitch a bit more clearly.

I am one step away from yesterday, thanks-giving Day. It is Black Friday. A day to rush for the bargains advertised by the marketers who want us to spend in their stores right away because once we get spending we will have trouble stopping. Or not. Check that swing? Not so easy, once we’ve built momentum. Before we know it we’ve gone around for the strike; the third base umpire says so. Are we any better hitters? Or are the stadium lights just getting so dim that we can’t see that the field is tipping?

We might do well to defend the plate, so we can fend off those pitches that come close to home. And lay off the tempting ones up around our eye balls that dare us to swing. Those Black Friday sales come to mind.

The way I see it, Christmas is still December 25th. The retailers are lobbing pitches out of the strike zone. I’m waiting on my pitch. Let ’em throw strikes.

I’m on a co-Mission from God

Worth and pay are two very different concepts, especially if you’re in the service industry. In fact “service industry” seems an oxymoron to me. Serving, you do for worth. Industry you do for pay. The two seem mutually exclusive.

I am forced to consider this as a writer and as an entrepreneur. I do what I do for the service I provide, but how do I fund myself? Do I just rely on donations? Do I have a right to ask people to pay? If so, how much? How do you put a price on healthy, whole, fulfilled? This is what I hope to offer you, but these are long-term characteristics. On down the road I hope you will experience all of these. Right now, you just read or practice what I “preach.”  No money changes hands. My payment relies on your generosity.

Out of the goodness of your heart you “like” my blog or you “like” my page or you visit my website. You are an online statistic to me. It’s a way you say “thank you,” perhaps without even knowing it. By clicking, you indicate that this has value for you, that you’re glad you came and you will be back for more.

Not a lot of money in that. Just relationship. But it’s mutual relationship and it’s lasting. That’s worth, but it’s not pay.

This is much like the waitress who’s salary is so much less than minimum wage. She works for tips, so what she makes is totally up to her customers. What I make is totally up to my readers. They visit and may click or even comment and be tallied in the “statistics.”

But this is a business. It has cost as well as benefit. And the business is to make money. That’s what businesses do. This understanding has come the hard way for me, but I’m getting it. If I make money I can spend it to grow the business, perhaps even pay myself a salary, but mostly to reach more people with the long term gains I am selling. I want people to be healthy, whole and fulfilled.

But where does the money come from? If we’re just clicking and liking. Well, it comes from advertisers who hope you’ll see them while you’re reading the content of the blog or the webpage. They want to persuade you to buy their products while you’re surfing the web. Sneaky those companies. Oh, you don’t have to buy. You can escape scot-free, if you’re disciplined and don’t give in.

But most of us aren’t. Or at least we’re very suggestible. The image or slogan remains in our minds and suggests itself again when a purchasing decision comes up.

But what of the writer, the waitress, the server, the servant? The one actually provides the service. They get paid tips based on your generosity. They get paid bonuses based on performance. They are in sales, and salesmen earn a commission. Salary is small, but if they’re successful in selling, they get a reward. That motivates them to sell well, be persuasive, be charming and endearing and helpful. Are you smiling, too?

All good, if they believe that what they’re selling is truly what you need. They’re not just trying to sell you so they can make the commission. You can tell the difference. The good salesman, the one who sells you what you need at the right price, you come back to again and again. You have a relationship of trust. He’ll winnow down the choices for you and you’ll be satisfied with your purchase. That’s a service worth paying for.

So, I look at the “likes,” “click-throughs” and “comments” on the newsire for which I write. They are meager but growing. In this world, that’s what sells. And the editor says, we’ll pay you based on those. Great, I work on commission.

But if I really believe the product I’m selling will help you be more healthy, whole and fulfilled, then it’s worth it even if I don’t rake in any of those proceeds. You get them. After all, I’m in the service industry. I am on commission. You get healthy, whole and fulfilled. Who could possibly pay what those are worth?

God can. It’s what He longs desperately for in our lives, but He doesn’t force them on us. He lets us choose. I’m in the business of selling them. I’m on commission. I work for God. So much more than a salary.

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