That was the name of a Robert A. Heinlein short story that was published in an anthology called “the Green Hills of Earth” in 1951. The idea was that General Services was truly everything that the name implied: they would do your laundry, grocery shopping, dog-walking, party-planning, etc, and sometimes they’d even take on things like temporarily modifying the earth’s gravitational field in a specific area so as to host an interplanetary conference. It’s really all about the details (and your credit rating) to have them accomplish anything in the world on your behalf. There was nothing in the world that General Services couldn’t do, and as a small girl I day-dreamed about being one of those highly qualified individuals who might work for a place like General Services – or even run something like that myself.
And being raised on Heinlein and his wisdom that “specialization is for insects“, I’m finding myself more and more stunned at how much people don’t know how to do … well … everything. This is more than just a simple novelty or awe from others that I can make my own clothes, or that I know how to use proper grammar, or that I can cook with pretty much any ingredients (great or small) and turn out a good meal. It’s a seeming resistance by the individuals who make up the general public to figuring out how to do something.
On one hand, I’m flabbergasted and a little disturbed at the lack of ingenuity and resourcefulness, but on the other hand, what a brilliant opportunity! People hire folks to do a job for two reasons: they don’t know how to do it themselves and/or they don’t have time to do it themselves. This is the cornerstone of the foundation of economy in the first place, and every single occupation and every single business is based on this idea.
Except, what do you do when you’re capable of so many different things that you can’t readily explain to someone what you do? “Artist–writer–doctor–princess–astronaut–teacher–seamstress–dancer–programmer–mom” doesn’t fit on a business card. And that’s not counting the other things that I have done, such as transcription, technical recruiting, cooking, bar-tending, training, construction, renovation, retail, balloon and flower delivery, adult novelty boutique manager, DJ, barista, technical support monkey and… well, I’m sure many other things that I’ve forgotten. I don’t have a “career” because I can’t wrap my brain around identifying myself by my job. I don’t think in terms of “I AM a writer” so much as “I write”. “I draw” or “I sew” or “I knit” keeps the identity of ME within ME.
To put it another way, if I were An Artist (i.e. I identify myself as An Artist), and one day I was blinded in a horrible accident with no chance of recovery, I could no longer BE “An Artist” – at least, not as I had grown to identify myself. If I instead were a person – now blind – who knew art and also did these other things (no one does ONE thing forever, you know), then it’s much easier to move my habits to, say, writing instead. Lop off my hands along with the eyesight problem, and I’ll still find a way to tell a great story, but if my identity is such that I only see my Self as an Artist, then transition is highly difficult if not impossible.
(Rumor has it that this is an element of the autism thing, and that neuro-typical people require such social-based identities. That doesn’t parse for me.)
Back to the point at hand, though…
As I mentioned in my previous post about the future, I have this “DaVinci” thing going on, this “Impossible-ness” that muddies the waters when I try to determine a clear path forward. MAN, I love anthropology, but I’d also really love to get into physics more. What about archaeology? Or psychology? Or engineering? Wow, building stuff is cool… but then there’s…
Yes. This mind-train wandering off happens EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
So, what kind of business model might I devise that would utilize my various and sundry talents – or at least my areas of familiarity up to and including expertise – and would also generate enough income to not have to worry about paycheck-to-paycheck? The ideal financial situation allows for roughly 25% above your expenses for a comfortable padding. and as that padding increases, so does the capacity for savings and expansion. I have never actually experienced this, but that is my goal. I don’t mind working for someone else, as long as they understand that I can’t really devote regular office-time until Daniel is all better, but the longer it goes on, the more it seems that working for someone else is a guaranteed screw-job, and I’m a little weary of that.
More later. It’s time to go make chicken-fried steak.
My favorite RAH short of all…………..
yep, I can totally empathize! and, I also walk dogs … for free 😉
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