Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is It A Trend?

Living and working free – a trend? I’m not sure. I believe most people, though they may express it in different terms, are basically seeking what I call “living and working free.” However, our society equates financial success, asset accumulation (mostly depreciating assets), hording or pack ratting stuff that we feel we absolutely need as a route to happiness. Of course, we are in a free enterprise, capitalistic society and the only way to keep this kind of society going and healthy is for a lot of consumption. Now, this can lead me down a lot of roads and tangents and I’m not going there now. I grew up in a typical middle class (Ford/Chevy, sub-division home) family. We had all we needed, some of what we wanted, but nothing ostentatious. My father was a depression era child. He had a strong work ethic and he passed that on to me. He was a “closet entrepreneur” meaning he always had the desire to go out on his own, but he wouldn’t let go of the security of the positions he had – and he worked hard to get to where he was when he died at a young age. I believe he instilled me with that entrepreneurial spirit and subtly directed me in that direction.

As time has passed and I’ve gained wisdom over the years from my varied experiences, I’ve realized that money, financial wealth and the accumulation of depreciating assets really didn’t gain me the two qualities, ideals or values I was really seeking. In the beginning I was an empire builder. I wanted to build a large business, expand it, become a millionaire (back when being a millionaire still meant something – now, it’s billionaire). But, as I have gone down that track several times, I realized that I was losing my “time” and my “freedom” and I wasn’t really happy. I had houses, cars, clothes, other trappings of growing financial success – BUT, I WASN’T HAPPY! And I never felt free. And I realized that my time was passing – my days past have become considerably longer then my days forward (which are unknown).

So, years ago, in various ways, I started to search for the true meaning, values, qualities of life that would ultimately bring me peace of mind and happiness. Thus, the quest for “living and working free.” And, remember, if you’ve read the original posting I put up for this blog and repost periodically, living free doesn’t mean living in an alley or sleeping on a heating grate in a large city and working free doesn’t mean working for free. Howeveer, I heartily encourage volunteerism – many times the paybacks can be much greater then working for money. Indeed, my concept of “living and working free” is to take some time, do some research, introspectively analyze the things that give you true fulfillment, happiness and peace of mind. You will probably find that the needs are actually pretty basic and most of the wants are simple and not very costly. Most of the things that give you those moments of peace and happiness are very simple and often free. I have a long way to go in my quest for the ultimate experience of living and working free, but I’m in a position, at age 63, where I can make big decisions, let go of almost everything I have and lighten the load. More on all of this later as I go through my metamorphosis.

But, interestingly, since I asked if this is a trend, last night I had dinner with a friend I’ve known for about 18 years. She just took the steps I’m taking currently and, likewise, is living freer and seems happier then I’ve seen her in quite a while. Her circumstances are different then mine and the things that have driven her throughout her life were a bit different, also. She’s 7 or 8 years younger then me, but she seems to be on the same quest as me. And, last week, while I was at a community organization that I’ve done volunteer work at, for the betterment of the community and the arts, for about ten years, I ran into another woman, an accountant by profession, that I’ve known over the years and found that she’s going down this same path. And, I know of another fellow, also, coincidentally, an accountant by profession, who is also going down this path. Now, each of these people have different reasons and different objectives then mine, but they’ve cut free from the “norm” that society expects everyone to conform to in order to be considered a productive, worthwhile, contributing member of society. Interestingly, the people who make the biggest contributions and create progress in our society are those who are typically outside the box. But, exactly WHO defined this “norm” or “standard” that everyone should conform to? I don’t know the answer to that nor exactly when it began. But, I can say this, the industrial revolution and the academic institutions have embraced it, perpetuated it and preach it. And, everyone seems to be judged by it. But, it’s not a law. It’s not even a natural law. And, I am finding that some of the happiest people I know and that I’m meeting are those who have become “non-conformists” and chosen to take back their lives and live free and work free in the ways that are most harmonious for themselves.

That’s my lot for today. Time to get back to work shedding myself of all this “material stuff” I’ve accumulated and that has been stifling me for years.


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