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Marty Graham noon, Oct. 20
Things are not critical to our existence. I look around my desk. It is covered in crap. Things. That cost money. A computer, a calculator, a thesaurus (well, that may be necessary, as creativity is always a good "thing"). Imagine a world with no currency. What would we do if money was not the sole reason for getting out of bed in the morning?
We would not live in big, expensive boxes designed to hold all of our "things", including the big space that sits empty every day to hold our expensive cars, namely the garage. We would not have to go on expensive vacations to try to escape the stress from our jobs, which we painfully go to every day to make more money to support our "things". We would not compete with our fellow man for positions in our communities to appear more successful in the eyes of others, because we feel that if we don't measure up, it is indicative of our worth. We would not pay others to do the work we are capable of doing, such as yard or housework, if we only had the time. Because if we did not have money to pay for these chores, we would be required to complete them ourselves. Which would give a certain satisfaction for a job well done, rather than the nagging suspicion that you are somehow missing out on your life. Because you have to keep up the payments and the upkeep on your "things", lest others accuse you of being a slacker. We would take care of our clothing ourselves, rather than send it to the expensive, earth destroying dry-cleaners, because we have to look good to impress the people who we are begging for business or a job to support our "things". We would not have to go to soul-crushing, empty jobs that are pointless in the grand scheme of things, because no one will remember all the good things you have ever done, they will only remember the time you screwed up. We would not seek relationships with people based on how they can help support you, but instead would seek others with like-minded thoughts and interests, leading to lifelong friendships rather than soulless exchanges of business cards and the hope that this person might find you likeable enough to give you what you need - income.
We would lose our devices that allow anyone to find us at any time and demand labor from us, even when we are not on the clock. We would not feel like if we do not take that call, or answer that e-mail, that our very existence is being jeopardized because we may miss out on an opportunity.
We allow others to control our roles in life to the point of losing our identities. If we are constantly changing our actions to suit the needs of someone else, or living in fear that we are disappointing someone if we do not act a certain way, or make a certain amount of money, we are living a shallow life. It's too hard to keep trying to keep up a "lifestyle" you never asked for.
I quit my career yesterday. I say career because it was not a job, it was what I have done most of my life. I took a good, long look at my life this last week, and said to hell with it, I have nothing to lose but the last shreds of my dignity if I stay. My work KILLED everything about me that is good and kind. Negative thoughts in my head day and night, chasing me in my sleep. There is something very difficult about working with other people's money in today's world. People are angry. I no longer want to be part of that machine. I did this before two years ago, but I wasn't ready, and like a fool I went back thinking maybe things have changed for the better. Fat chance.
There is something to be said for living a simpler life. There is a person on this website whose lifestyle fills me with longing, because he seems to have figured out what is important to him - his writing, and the people he loves, which is what brings him joy. I am referring to Refriedgringo, whose paternal benevolence and aversion to crassness I once mistook for sexism, that being the result of the daily assault of stress and pressure I suffer at my work. I am scared to leave my job. But I am excited about the possibility of learning something new or honing something I already know but don't have the time to explore. I think everyone in my life will benefit from this, even if some think I am nuts for giving up a job while the unemployment rate hovers at 10%.
If anyone else has ever had a life-changing "aha" moment when they realized the soul-murdering life they were living was for the birds, I would love to hear about it. I can't wait until December 1st, which is when I walk out that door for the last time. My last day. And my first day to become what I was meant to be, whatever that may be. Time, which we only have a limited amount of, will tell.