It was quiet yesterday at our Community Engagement Center and it’s quiet again today. Not as many people and the ones who are here are generally more relaxed, a lot less on edge than at other times. They enjoyed seeing staff dressed up for Halloween but even that got a more muted response than it probably would have gotten a week ago. In working here the last few months, I’ve noticed a definite rhythm to our months. The emotional state of the community, or you might say the atmosphere, cycles like the moon between states of low to high anxiety and back again.
This cycle is tied directly to the first of the month when many of our friends receive some kind of income, stipend, or assistance check. Yesterday was just before getting paid, so our folks were calm knowing they could make it one more day. Today, most of them are making plans for how best to use their resources. Some will rent a room for a week or two, put together their best set of clothes and try again to find work. They are laying out plans to carefully spend grocery money (and/or SNAP allocation) so they can eat for most of the month. Some are making a trip to the pawn shop to retrieve some valuable item while they still can. Overall, they are using all the thought, skill, and care they can muster to make the best use they can of limited resources. Their situations haven’t fundamentally changed but they have a little bit to work with and working and making plans puts anxious energy to good use.
Most of you reading this know this monthly experience too. In this regard, our Love Wins community members are just like you and me, living on limited resources and feeling calm or anxious relative to how far or near we are to payday. Some of us are eating beef or chicken this week, instead of the Ramen noodles or rice beans of last week (and again in three weeks). Fewer of us are making trips to the pawn shop, but more of us are paying down a credit card we know we’ll be charging back to its max in a few weeks. Same thing really. Costco (and the like) will be busy today and tomorrow as many of us try to map out a sensible grocery plan. We’ll decide which bills to pay and which ones to float. And we’ll join our friends in hoping to avoid any unforeseen major expense. Most of us have this same rhythm to our months, a rhythm where economics affects our emotions, where our hope for the immediate future corresponds to the digits of our checking account balance.
There are significant differences of course but my point here is that most of us experience something of this same rhythm. We’re all in this boat together rocked by the same waves.