Have you ever dreamed of having zero responsibilities? Imagine you have no job, no kids, no family responsibilities, no bills. Not even a car or a house. You even have a bit of money saved to live on for the moment. You have no responsibilities and you can go anywhere in the world and do whatever you want.
What a dream, right?
What I’ve just described is my present reality.
Now, get your slapping hand out, because you know what? It’s hard. This lifestyle I consciously created for myself - surprise! - has it’s own set of challenges.
Having a lifestyle like this, of which most people dream, has been a living lesson that everyone has their own set of challenges; everyone’s life is hard. It’s taught me that there is a fine line between aspiration and envy and both fail to consider the true reality of which we desire.
Most importantly, I’m suddenly acutely aware that everyone is struggling, and I’m overcome with compassion for everyone’s challenge. Life is hard, and as S.E. Hinton so eloquently writes in The Outsiders: “Things are rough all over.”
Okay, okay, I know you want to know what the hell I have to complain about right now. So I don’t have a job or bills or kids to worry about, right? But what that has done is remove all external distractions, so I’m left to focus on really hard, spiritual and existential stuff, like my purpose in life. Gah. And I can go anywhere in the world, awesome, but the world is really freaking big and interesting and I have decision paralysis about where to go, and how to spend my time. Adopt a Mother Theresa lifestyle? Live on a sailboat? Purchase a rural land tract and invite people to come work on it? Hide away and write? Become a public persona? I can do anything, and the funny thing is that I have yet to do anything grand. Travel is amazing, but I battle guilt about what I could alternatively be spending my money on, or how I could spend my time in less selfish ways. I battle exhaustion and find it difficult to focus on my physical health. If having too much fun is a thing, I might be close. I’m always worried about running out of money, and therefore out of time to live like this. Finding an affordable and safe place to sleep is a concern. And I’m always leaving. Imagine meeting someone awesome that you want to get to know, but almost invariably you’ve got a flight to some far off place, like, tomorrow.
(There’s also a list of approximately seven million things I love about my lifestyle, but that’s not the topic of this essay.)
I’ve always wondered whether it’s part of the human condition to never find satisfaction, or rather, to always want more.
I don’t have that answer, but as I reflect on my current state, I am aware that this potentially existential realization that suffering is universal is part of my lesson. And as I struggle with what to do with my unique life circumstances at the moment, maybe I just just stop. Struggling, that is. And focus on compassion. For everyone (including myself). So I’ll listen (really listen), and feel empathy, ask people meaningful questions, give thoughtful compliments, and make sure people know I love them. Practice patience and understanding. Recently a friend and I were sitting at a cafe when someone walked by, apparently talking to himself. I looked over to her with wide eyes and high brows like, “Yikes.” She said, without a hint of sarcasm, “Let’s assume he’s got a bluetooth in his other ear.” That struck me; I realized it’s a really powerful thing to give people the benefit of the doubt.
I know my list of current struggles in this blog post will elicit eye rolls, but it’s important for me to share them with you so you know it’s rough all over. I am really insanely grateful for this incredible life opportunity I have right now, but my point is that if my life is tough, everyone’s life is tough. So even though I might not know what you’re going through, I’ll always assume you’ve got a bluetooth in your other ear, okay?