I was out the door relatively early this morning — booked myself for breakfast with a couple of Winnipeg buddies and a mutual friend, a Winnipegger who’s currently displaced in Edmonton but passed through town this weeken for breakfast. Or something like that. We met at Alycia’s for a good Ukranian breakfast, because eggs and toast really deserve holobchi and kolbassa on the side.

Lots of catching up, and several updates of the benefits and challenges of life in Alberta, but for many people — thanks to the tar sands — it sounds like a lot of “money without manners” out there, to use one phrase that came up. Many oddball factoids slip from this group as well, such as the one that if every vehicle in North America could achieve mileage of 40 miles per gallon or better, there would be no need for foreign oil. Of course, that could lead to other discussions.

We talked a lot about equilibrium, the balance between work and personal life and the pursuit of cash. There’s a general striving by the people in this group to commit to living beneath their means, whether that is coupled with simply not spending everything or committing to a lighter workload to help maintain balance. As one of us put it, “We’ve decided to spend as little as we need.” As I put it, “My wife and I made a very similar decision a couple of years ago — to spend as little as we have.” It was a lighthearted quip, but of course that much is quite a step for some people.

I love this small group, each of us feeling acutely some form of disappointment that we are able to gather so infrequently. Another assumption tested had to do with the application of the skillsets that each of us had amassed individually to the workplace, and the fact that we all had skillset subsets which we were unwilling to dredge up in order to earn a living… as in, I/you/he could make a good living doing -XYZ-, except that I/hou/he has decided not to do that anymore. In some ways this leaves some of us partially displaced, applying skills we’ve gained in some arena that we’ve left in another arena in which we enjoy working and attempting to eak out a living.

After breakfast I had a 90-minute drive to the lake to pick up my kids from Grandma and Grandpa’s house, after spending the afternoon assisting my dad with some building projects around the place. I came home to Ben Sternke’s post on innovation and cross-pollination. A good read, after which I’m wondering if in some way he’s describing me and/or some of the people in this little group. I certainly had a sense of resonance as I was reading it, but before I draw any conclusions perhaps I’ll wait for “Part 2” of the post which comes on Monday, when we’ll discover what he means by cross-pollinators being “T-shaped.”

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