On September 2nd. I woke up in the most pain I’ve ever been in. My neck and upper back were absolutely killing me, my right arm was on fire.
I went to see a chiropractor the next morning and began a series of treatments. But, after two weeks of absolutely excruciating pain I decided to go see an orthopedic surgeon. I had x-rays, and MRI, and was put on gabapentin. The MRI revealed I have two bulging discs in my neck compressing my spine, thus leading to the pain in my arm. I was referred to a pain management center where I received an epidural in the middle of my back. That shot seems to have mostly done the trick. I have a follow-up visit with the orthopedic surgeon on the 19th and anticipate returning to work on the 24th. Yes dear reader, I have been out of work since September 2.
I could spend much of this post describing the pain that I was in, but that would be boring. People say sometimes bad things happen for a reason and good things come out of them. The people who often say that our religious individuals, who believe that God is trying or testing them. Some are just optimists, who choose to see the good for the bad. Some cannot accept that life is random and so they look for meaning in things that are meaningless. I don’t know maybe I fall into that last category.
I spent the time from early February to the beginning of July, unemployed. I worked July, August, and two days in September. I’ve been at home since then. Needless to say this hasn’t been a great year financially. But, it has shown me several things.
1) We have very nearly gotten to the point where we can survive off just my wife’s income.
2) There are a lot of things in this life more important than money.
3) Time, and the people you spend it with are your most valuable resource.
I have spent a lot of time in game, recruiting new people and getting to know them. In the time that I’ve been home our clan has grown. I have made many new friends, and gotten to know some of them very well. I believe I will be playing with many of these people for years to come. I have grown as a leader/manager, and as a person. I have been able to form the foundation of what I believe will one day be a large organization, built on these people. And, I have had the opportunity to meet some awesome individuals that I respect immensely. So, looking at this strictly from the gaming perspective these last several months have been tremendously productive.
However, the event that stands out most in my mind from these last three months is one that would seem to most folks to be insignificant. I have only actually left my house, or even gone outside, about 10 times the entire time I’ve been off. When everything hurts finding a comfy spot is more important than fresh air and sunshine. But, I was headed out to a physical therapy appointment the other day, and as I walked across my porch a rustling in the yard caught my ear.
It was one of those chilly autumn days. Not “cold” per se, but “brisk”. The kind of weather where you need a jacket but the chilly breeze on your face feels good. Leaves were rustling in the yard and as I turned my attention I became entranced for a moment.
I live in a clearing. I am surrounded on three sides by woods. On the fourth side is a small, unmarked, two-lane, dead end road. It is very quiet here, except for the sounds nature intended. At the moment I am describing, those are the sounds I could hear.
The leaves rustling in the yard focused my hearing, and I became aware of birds in the trees around me, squirrels jumping from branch to branch, and something larger and more cautious (likely a deer) treading carefully in the woods on the other side of my driveway.
I took in the colors of the leaves all around me, and the stark contrast as the pine trees became the only thing green I could see. The sky was grey. Not like rain was coming, but that cold, grey sky that says winter is headed your way. There were buzzards circling above, silently patrolling for dead critters that needs to be cleaned up. I glanced down at the potted roses on my porch. Their petals falling off as the nights have been cold lately, but new shoots still trying to form as the warmer days seem to be confusing them.
And for a moment I wondered to myself, how much more full of meaningful moments would my life be if I could slow down? If I had nowhere to go and nothing to do. If each moment were my own, and I could choose in that moment what I wanted to do with it. What if I could spend an afternoon sitting on the porch watching spiders weave their webs and birds come to the feeder? What if I didn’t have to cram everything I could in to today because tomorrow I had to go back to work?
“Money can’t buy you happiness”. Oh my dear misinformed reader, it most certainly can. This mantra is muttered by broke-ass bitches all the world over. And they are encouraged, by well meaning fools, to “count their blessings”, love themselves as they are, etc. Rather than go develop a plan to make more of it, they are encouraged to accept life as it is and find happiness where they are at.
Money cannot buy you happiness in the sense that you can go to Walmart and buy it. But it can afford you time to spend in activities you enjoy with people you love. It can afford you independence, and the ability to do what you like and to not do what you do not like.
As an example, how many people go to work every day at a job they hate? Why don’t they quit? Universally, the answer is “I’ve got bills to pay” or “I need the paycheck”. Well…what if you didn’t? What if you went to work because you wanted to. What if you went because you enjoyed your job, and if the day came that you no longer enjoyed it, you could simply leave?
Those moments on my porch brought back in to focus how many years I have spent living with a sense of urgency, cramming my days with things, never taking the time to enjoy them. How many roses I have passed, never stopping to smell them. How many conversations I have rushed through, and perhaps never heard. How many people that could have added something to my life, that I have hurriedly passed by without a second glance.
These moments awakened in me a desperation, and set me on a new course with a plan forming in my head as we speak.
I am now desperate for nothing, and urgently seeking the most direct path to get there. I may even begin a new blog simply to chronicle the journey from here to nowhere.
In the most general terms it involves paying off everything we owe as quickly as I can, and then dumping every dollar I can spare in to income generating investments until I get to the place where I can do…nothing. Obviously the specifics will require refinement and planning, but that’s the general concept. Whether here, as a general posting, or in a new blog created for that purpose, I will keep the readers updated on my progress.
The key is to generate enough wealth to maintain an acceptable lifestyle without employment. it is not sufficient to sit inside my house because I cannot afford to go anywhere. In that circumstance I am still trapped, just in a different environment. To be truly free, I must be able to do nothing because that is what I choose to do in that moment, not because it’s the only choice I have. And that is what money can buy you. Choices…which in my book, leads to happiness.