I have spent the days after my final exam immersed in a new book project. I feel as if I’ve come back to life after walking through the proverbial “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4, Revised Standard Version).
A part of me had been dying and I had not even realized it. Bit by bit, with every shift, I had been killing the spark that makes me, me.
The joy I have experienced while I sit at my computer, adding words to a book that will help people instead of slaving away at a job whose only purpose was to enrich a snobbish fuerdai is immense.
To think I almost surrendered that, almost allowed myself to drown in a lifestyle of slavish obedience is horrifying.
And I was almost there. A single phone call would cause me to drop everything, to abandon my studies and my life just so that I could race around the store of a man who barely acknowledged my existence.
And for what?
It certainly wasn’t for money. Almost every single business in this area pays starting workers more than I received as management.
It wasn’t entirely for pleasure. While I adored my coworkers and cherished my customers, I didn’t enjoy soothing growing lines of impatient shoppers while my “superiors” played on their phones and gossiped nearby.
So why did I do it?
I honestly don’t know. Perhaps it was the fact that I am surrounded by people in this area that believe that one cannot survive unless one spends their days making other people richer.
Perhaps it was the fact that I felt lost as my daughter became an adult.
Perhaps it was the constant criticism that I “needed to grow up” and get a “real” job for a change.
Or perhaps it was the doubt that seeped in after years of hearing people tell me that I couldn’t make it.
In the end, the “why” really doesn’t matter.
What really matters is that I would not have been able to do what I did–quit that job in an instant–if not for minimalism.
Jessica Dang of Minimalist Student states on her website that one cannot be truly happy when trapped in the rat race. At her post on the above link, she explains how we have become a society defined by what we own as opposed to what we do.
She makes some valid points. If you’ve not heard of her, I encourage you to visit her site.
Because she’s right.
We cannot be happy slaving away to enrich others. How can we be happy when we’re so exhausted after a shift that we fall asleep as soon as we sit down on the couch?
How can we be happy when we’re forced to drop everything and race to a job that threatens us with financial disaster through termination every time we become ill or need some time off?
How can we be happy when our financial lives are directly tied to the hours we are allowed to work, when the only way to increase our income is to spend even more of our lives at one or more jobs just to survive?
Why? Why are we so convinced that we need to devote our lives to enriching others when we have so much more that we would rather do instead?
Is it to become wealthy?
If that is the case then we are all screwed, because very few people ever become wealthy by working a public job.
The Odd Thing About Wealth
The odd thing about wealth is that the wealthy don’t define their wealth by the amount of money they have in the bank. They define their wealth by the amount of free time they have to pursue the things that they love.
Based upon that metric I am truly wealthy. I was able to quit my job without a backward glance. My bills are all paid and I just spent a relaxing afternoon with my daughter at the local coffee shop.
I didn’t have to check my schedule.
I didn’t have to check my bank balance.
I didn’t have to do anything but get dressed and enjoy my day.
You can do that too, if you want.