I make a living teaching yoga. I feel incredibly 'blessed.'
Before I was a full-time yoga teacher, I've had a wide variety of so-called 'bread jobs.'
As a teenager in Sweden I used to make pocket money in the summer picking and selling lingonberries and blueberries (and getting eaten by bugs in the meanwhile). I also worked a few weeks at a strawberry field. At sixteen I got a summer job cleaning windows at a theatre.
Then I cared for the elderly. The ones that had lost their minds to alzheimer and dementia. This often involved piss and poo. It was in this line of work I saw my first dead body.
My parents are class travellers. The first in their respective families to get university degrees.
I grew up quite unaware of class though. It wasn't until much later, looking back, that I realized that most of the deep friendships I had formed, were with people whose parents also were class travellers, just like mine.
After high school I moved to London to work as a nanny. Which pretty much entails looking after rich people's kids.
A couple of years later to New York to attend university. Well, really to become a rock star, but I needed a visa so I studied. The first year I had no work permit, so I was one of those undocumented workers Trump hates so much. The kind of work one could get without papers was dismal.
I worked as a phone sex operator. A job that surely has been phased out by online porn, Tinder and cam-girls. I worked as a cigarette girl. It was kind of fun. I wore insane outfits, a wig and high heels, and walked around with a tray selling cigarettes, chewing gum, lollipops and condoms in the hippest night clubs in New York at the time.
Then, after being fired by the crazy coke-head-boss-lady for no good reason, I got a job sorting through an ageing artist's piles of papers. That paid ten dollars an hour, and I worked part time for him for about a year.
When I got my work papers I started working in restaurants. I waited tables, bartended, Maitre D'd, cooked, worked as a barista. I stayed in this line of work for over ten years, long after I'd gotten my MFA degree. A degree that's pretty useless.
In New York I worked for about three years, part-time, at a very popular restaurant in SoHo, and it was during these years, that I made more money than I ever have in my life. In fact, I made more money than my roommate at the time, who had just graduated with a law degree from a very prestigious university, but had chosen to work as a lawyer in a non-profit organization supporting mentally ill homeless people instead of being at a big firm.
I begun to do some freelance journalist and translation work on the side. The odd copywriting gig here and there.
And at a certain point, after having been in Berlin for awhile, I found myself a full-time yoga teacher.
I've often wondered and worried what I will do if I can't do this?
I'm a very good waitress and I certainly would not be ashamed to put on my apron again. But I couldn't make a living doing this in Berlin. Not with my rent, my student loans and credit card debt.
Getting paid work writing is very competitive, and I was already getting paid less and less doing it when I stopped.
A few years ago a friend of mine quit her well-paid but soulless copywriter job, working for an interior design online shop, spending her days waxing poetically about shower curtains and bathmats. She felt like the job was slowly chipping away at her soul, and she'd been able to put some money aside. She thought, maybe it would be nice to work a couple of days a week in a café, then do some freelance writing that she cared about on the side. And also, having an Etsy-shop selling fine vintage clothing.
After a few months trying, and realising that she was depleting her savings, because these things didn't nearly bring in enough money to cover her bills, she was back working as a copywriter for a big advertising agency with clients like Bayer. Who now owns Monsanto. Who has helped wreak havoc on the world, and increase cancer rates due to their weed killer products and their genetically manipulated food.
The Buddha talked about the importance of right livelihood. We shouldn't take jobs that cause harm.
Every time I see the Foodora delivery guys and girls with their square pink backpacks I feel really bad. I have a few friends that did short stints delivering food for some of these companies. Dangerous, hard and far from decently paid.
Most people I know who have well-paid jobs do work, that largely is about getting us to consume more shit we don't need.
As the income gaps are growing and growing, the middle class is disappearing, and the people working in advertising, marketing etc can bring home insane salaries, while baristas, bike messengers, waiters, those who care for children, the elderly, mentally ill etc, often seem to be barely scraping by. Rents are going up. And many jobs, even the ones up until now requiring higher education, are predicted to be taken over by robots.
I am extremely lucky. Making a living as a yoga teacher is very hard. I know many yoga teachers, but few that do it full-time, or count on it to pay their bills. Yet, yoga teacher trainings are everywhere. Because they are the best way for yoga teachers to actually make a living.
Making enough money from teaching group classes is hard.
I love the work I do.
The way I feel right now, I hope I can do it forever.
I worry though, that I can't.
I also worry that we are creating cities that only rich people can afford to live in.
This is surely the case in New York, where I spent my twenties and loved it. This is surely the case in London. Where I lived for one year as a teenager. This is surely the case in Stockholm where until now the rents are actually controlled by the government, which means they aren't crazy high, but because most rental properties have been transformed to condos it's impossible to find somewhere to live if you can't afford to buy anyway.
Is this also happening in Berlin. It seems so.
We know that violence increases when there's inequality.
No woman is an island, as they say.
It's all connected.
How can we create a world where everyone is thriving and not just a few?