“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis.” ~Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk
For the past year, I have not had a job. After fighting a lawsuit for 5 years I was awarded a legal settlement, and this allowed me to do what I always told myself I would do: take a year long sabbatical. What I was going to do with that sabbatical was unclear to me at the time.
All I knew was that I would come back to myself.
So I climbed at Red Rock, and at various crags in Colorado and New Mexico, all the while tinkering with some of my online ventures, meditating and experimenting with Qigong and climbing, and working on improving Conchita la Casita, my 13′ Casita Patriot fiberglass RV.
And, as my money slowly drained away I contemplated work and life and what I really wanted to become, and while I didn’t quite have a clear picture on who I wanted to become, I knew very clearly what I didn’t want to do.
I didn’t want to work for a corporation, other than my own, for the rest of my life.
“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.” ~ Lloyd Dobler, Say Anything
Working for corporations is unnatural. People go to school to learn skills to help some asshole head honcho get rich. They work 40, or more likely 50-80 hours a week during the best part of their lives with people they may or may not like – and for what? Retire at age 65, if they are lucky, realizing that they will never realize their big dreams of traveling the world, or some other big dream, if they even had the time to have a dream at all.
We make compromises with our lives, we make peace with ourselves, and scale back our big dreams because, well, reality you know? Need to pay the mortgage, or wait until you save enough, or until your pet/relative/friend dies. THEN life will happen!
I’ve learned, over time, that there is no practical difference between a reason and an excuse.
Both will hold you back, if you let them. And the barriers to doing things that could enrich your lives – learning a foreign language, lack of money, and fears: fears of heights, of travel, of foreigners – are barriers we self-create which prevents us from the kind of experiences that would well and truly blow the hinges off the doors of our complacency.
For most worthwhile things, in order to get to the exciting adventure – you have to be willing to go through the fear.
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. God Himself is not secure, having given man dominion over His works! Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Faith alone defends. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable. ~ Helen Keller
Helen Keller, for those of you who may not know, was born blind and deaf. She couldn’t see, couldn’t hear, and couldn’t speak. This quote, from a person with true barriers saying security is a mostly a myth.
I was going to roam the US in Conchita la Casita, but while the dream was big, it wasn’t my biggest dream.
My biggest dream was to travel the world.
When you ask people what they would do with a million bucks, a common answer is: I would travel the world. But if you dig a little deeper, the barriers come up: I don’t have enough money, I don’t know the language. Don’t they have terrorists there? I’m afraid.
The last is the worst: I’m afraid. When you say that, barring things that are actively dangerous, what you are saying is that you are confusing what you feel with what is real.
All those barriers are really nothing. Less than nothing. All you need is the will. The will to do what is necessary to be able to do the things you want to do.
Everything else is an excuse.
“At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ~Lao Tzi, Tao Te Ching
Someone asked me what motivates me. They were honestly puzzled. And I answered without thought: ‘One of the things that motivates me is the idea that I could die at any moment.’
It seems at first like a very negative thought – the idea of dying as a prime motivator. But it’s real. The thought that you could die at any moment should scare you into life.
Last year, I had a cousin die at the age of 42. She died of a brain aneurism in front of her husband and her children. Dropped dead, was unable to be revived. No one, her included, had any inkling that this could happen to her.
There is a brain aneurysm rupturing every 18 minutes. ~ bafound.org
You or I, or anyone for that matter, will die of an aneurism in the next 18 minutes. And that’s just one thing out of a hundred. Let that thought sink in.
Maggie Fitzgerald: She’s tough, I can’t go inside, I can’t get close enough to hit her.
Frankie Dunn: You know why that is?
Maggie Fitzgerald: Why?
Frankie Dunn: Cause she’s a better fighter than you are, that’s why. She’s younger, she’s stronger, and she’s more experienced. Now, what are you gonna do about it?
~ from Million Dollar Baby
Fears can become monumental in our minds. They can seem like insurmountable foes. Stress can also have real life effects on our bodies, creating illness.
But the fear of dying at any moment should trump all fears.
Of course, we have to give unto Caesar what Caesar wants, and that may be – graduate from college, save enough to travel, take care of my kids/marriage/relative etc.
I get it.
Let’s set those concerns aside for the moment. Let’s also set aside the stories of folks who travel with kids, who travel the world with no money, or even the story of a 90 year old woman with a terminal illness deciding to travel the world in a campervan – let’s set those counter arguments aside as well.
Whatever your dream is: to start a business, find the love of your life, rock climb in the Dolomites, travel the world; what is it, right now, that you are doing in order to achieve this dream? What are the barriers to entry? and the final important item:
When do you plan on doing this?
“A man, a plan, a canoe, pasta, heros, rajahs, a coloratura, maps, snipe, percale, macaroni, a gag, a banana bag, a tan, a tag, a banana bag again (or a camel), a crepe, pins, Spam, a rut, a Rolo, cash, a jar, sore hats, a peon, a canal–Panama!” ~Long palindrome by (possibly) Guy Steele
Because a plan without a timeline is not a plan at all: it’s a day dream. It’s a fantasy. It’s the child when asked what he wants to be when he grows up, and says s/he wants to become an astronaut. Maybe it will happen, but most likely it won’t.
Figure out your wildest dream, make a plan, tie it to a timeline – and off to the races you go! Don’t let anything, or even anyone stop you.
You are not your fucking khakis. You have dreams and aspirations and hopes and things and experiences you want to do.
This is your one precious life – what are you gonna do about it?
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