Summer 2008

Dear Catherine,
My question is about right livelihood and more specifically about right money. I inherited some investments from my parents, and those investments are in some industries that I really don’t feel good about. However, they provide me with some nice dividends and pay the bills. In this crumbling economy, I am reluctant to give them up and sell them, but I don’t feel good about how I am able to live this way. Do you have any advice?
RC,
Los Angeles

Dear RC,
When and if the discomfort of compromise becomes greater than the reward of creature comforts, you will make a change. The first step in that process is awareness of the disparity between your values and your actions; this you have exhibited in writing this letter. Some people live with compromise to the end of their days while, for others, compromise becomes unbearable. At that point, one might be open to solutions that had not been previously considered and don’t involve as much sacrifice as was feared – or one might even accept great sacrifice in outward comforts in order to live more comfortably in one’s own skin. Time will tell for you.
Catherine

Dear Catherine,
I have just returned from a trip with someone who had been a friend for many years in the area where we both live. However, I have discovered that I didn’t really know her until we traveled together and what I came to know of her in such close quarters made me feel that I don’t want to have anything to do with her now that we are back. I don’t think I can ever see her in the way that I used to. It is as though a mask were peeled back and the real person behind that mask is someone entirely different than the person I thought I knew. The problem is that, though we had a few spats on the trip, she thinks all is the same as before. Do I tell her that it is best that we not continue our friendship?
LP,
San Francisco

Dear LP,
It may not be necessary to explicitly express feelings of estrangement at this point. Perhaps with time your engagement with this person will find its natural rhythm of contact, whether that is less than it once was or even none at all. But for now, fresh off the trip of unpleasant memories, it might be good to just take a break without cutting off the relationship entirely. If it becomes necessary to formally end all contact with her, it would be best to do so when your heart and mind are quiet in the matter and a balance of good memories from former times is accessible to you again.
Catherine

Dear Catherine,
I am in my final months at UC Berkeley and now have to figure out what I am going to do next. I don’t know which direction to turn because I don’t believe there is much of a future if we don’t address the environmental problems we face, and I don’t see any of the leaders talking about the kinds of changes that are needed. Even the best of the political leaders don’t seem very dialed in to the massive scope of the problem and what it is going to mean for my generation and the rest behind us. It makes ideas like getting a job or having a family seem really beside the point. I am not really a depressed person but my friends and I all sort of feel pretty hopeless about the future.
JZ,
Berkeley

Dear JZ,
I often think about your generation and the problems you have inherited due to the greed and ignorance of the previous generations. It is best not to dwell in blame as the evolutionary awareness that could address those problems was just not there yet. Please take heart in knowing that things can change more quickly than you might imagine, so don’t assume the worst. There is no certainty about how this will go. In the meantime, live your wonderful life in the present and have gratitude for all that you love and enjoy. None of us, no one in time, has ever had any guarantees of safety or longevity. Let your own proclivities and interests take you where they will. Keep your heart and mind open, live lightly, and don’t think too much about the future.
Catherine