In The Art of Non-Conformity, Chris Gillebeau writes (and I’m paraphrasing poorly here) that when we work for someone else, we’re always at their mercy. I never would have understood that before my half-dozen years held hostage over the construction barrel, but now I just “A-MEN!”
Having seen that so clearly now, I can’t un-see it; in some way or another, I’ve been trapped by every job I’ve ever had. Every call at home after hours, every email received while on vacation, every time I felt guilty for calling in sick– these link me to an anchor I never even noticed.
These days are ripe for unconventional lives. I’ve spent so long trying to nail down a conventional one, I forgot there were other ways to support ourselves– other lifestyles more conducive to our personalities, to our complex custody schedules… other ways to build and raise our family. All our strengths lie along untrodden ways; why have we been trying to fit into a box all this time when we’re so not box-shaped?
I’m taking my life back. Choosing my own priorities, deciding for myself how to spend my time. I’m painting. I’m writing. Maybe I’ll teach faux finishing classes. Not one of these incomes, not limited to one future or one path, but ALL of them. Why didn’t I ever think of this before?
In doing all the things I love most, I actually get more time. Dan and I get more time together as a couple, we get more time as a family, there’s more time for road trips and long hikes. This is not an interim. This is our new lifestyle.
We’re taught there’s only one safe river: go to college, get a job, forge a career, build up the 401k. Buy a house, have a family, put the kids through private school, teach them to follow the river too. There’s nothing wrong with that, exactly, except you’re pretty well screwed if there’s a drought. And it sure ain’t raining much these days.
One river’s not enough any more. It doesn’t flow the direction I want to travel. It’s time to seek out hidden tributaries, explore 86 directions at once, immerse myself in freshwater abundance.