Happiness is Independence
I thought, given today is Independence Day in the United States, I would write about being free. If you read this blog you know that I’ve recently gone back to work after an 18 month vacation. The comment I get from folks when they first hear about that is, lucky you. But it’s not luck. Once I say that the conversation often turns to the fact that I’m not married. There is some merit to that discussion but it’s not really about me not being married, what it is about is me being less encumbered than they are in life and that’s a choice.
Often times, we believe that the reason we can’t do the things we want in life, the things we dream about doing, is that we have all of these things holding us back that we can’t do anything about. Of course what we often forget is that we placed most of the chains that hold us down on ourselves. There are few obligations that we have in life that we didn’t place on ourselves. Marriage, kids, a mortgage payment these are all choices we make in life. Where we live, how we live, what job we have are all choices we made.
Sometimes it seems like these aren’t choices at all, society’s expectations, love, the fear of being alone leads to marriage. We have kids because we want to, because our partner wants to, because our parents want grandchildren, for the survival of the species, because it’s what’s next.
The reasons are somewhat irrelevant, we love our partners, we love our children, we do our best to be good people. We do what we think is right often without a thought to the consequences down the road. We’re human, imperfect and that’s ok.
The message I want to send in this piece my friends is that no matter where you are now, those dreams you have are not out of reach. This is not a theoretical proposition, during my travels over the last couple of years I encountered people at every level of their lives chasing their dreams. I met retired folks following society’s script, people who dutifully waited until they had retired before they chased their own dreams. I also met people who waited with their partner’s for that day, only to have their partners die before they could enjoy their time together. I met families with young children chasing their dreams together. I met husbands and wives pursuing their dreams with supportive families at home. What I’ve learned in the last couple of years is that the old adage, where there’s a will there’s a way is true.
You can do it, you can chase and achieve your dreams, you just have to increase your level of freedom. How do I do that you ask, when I have bills to pay and people who depend on me? There are a few steps The first, the biggest and absolutely the hardest is that you have to decide to do it, to commit to following your dream. Whatever IT is. Once you have decided that you will do it, the rest is logistics. Planning is the obvious second step, along with a healthy dose of patience. Reality does get in the way, initially you may not be able to fully accomplish your dream but you can make steps towards it that can make you happier.
For me, my dream is to be a full-time writer and traveler. I may not have a wife and kids but I do have people who depend upon me, people I feel obligated to be there for when things are tough. I’ve also encumbered myself with my choices in life. I have significant student loan debt, my possessions are an issue, without a wife or children, I’m basically on my own in retirement. All of these things create obstacles to me just walking away from my current life and becoming what I want to be.
So I’ve committed to getting there and I’ve started planning. Several years ago when the housing market crashed I bought a house, turned it around and sold it when the market came back. It paid for my 18 months vacation, what that time was, besides absolutely wonderful, was a test run. The process of stepping into a completely new life was complicated. How to you cover your monthly bills? How do you keep health insurance? What do you do with all of your possessions? Learning how to do all of that was a vital step toward reaching my dream. I’m finishing up editing the book I wrote about my time traveling, another learning process.
I wish I was closer to my dream, I’m still years from getting there, but I know I can now. It’s not a theoretical construct anymore, it’s a process that has steps. Currently, working again is actually one of the steps, coming back to California and working keeps me in the retirement system, that pension is a piece of what I’ll need to put together to make my dream workout. I’m also taking other steps, getting my debt taken care of, and reducing the amount of my possessions. If you are traveling you have to store your stuff, the less you have the cheaper it is to store things. I once read that if a possession isn’t something you frequently use, or adds to the beauty in your life, it’s not worth keeping. I’m currently employing that filter.
I relate these personal details to show you that you can do it, you can pursue and achieve your dreams, you can make them real. Your circumstances are not mine, the things that you need to overcome will be different, maybe harder, maybe easier but you can make them happen. We live once, this isn’t a practice run, make your dreams happen or they never do, that’s just the way it is. This is why I write this blog, I want you to be happier, I want you to fulfill your dreams. If one of you reading this take these steps, gets closer to your dreams because of these words, then I’ve succeeded and my days and yours are that much happier my friend. ~ Rev Kane