Saving my life

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You know the fairytales where the beautiful princess is saved by the handsome prince? I never liked those stories. I always thought the princess should have gotten down from that stupid tower and saved herself. That’s what I would have done.

Which brings me to why I just quit my job.

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I’m changing my life. It’s a silly thing for a grown woman to do, really. It’s not that my life is bad: A job where I work in a clean, safe office. A paycheck that meets my needs and allows me to save for retirement. I have friends and family, education and entertainment. I go on one or two great vacations a year, mostly to countries I’ve never been to. Until recently, I had a condo filled with furniture, knick-knacks and closets overflowing with clothes. Most of the world goes to bed dreaming of the problems I complain of.

I’ve had every thing I want. It’s the American Dream. And it feels like it is slowly sucking the life right out of me.

The problem isn’t the American dream. It’s that it wasn’t MY dream. I don’t want more things. I want more experiences. I want to DO. I’m tired of being sensible and stoic and boring and predicable. I’m tired of focusing on dressing warmly, eating healthy, saving for retirement, keeping my head down and dreaming of my next vacation. This isn’t who I want to be.

And the more things I have, the more responsible I act, the less time I spend doing what used to bring me joy, even when I did it badly. Reading and writing poetry; Drawing and watercolors; Singing; Turning over stones in the woods just to see what’s under them; Making up stories; Looking at the stars and watching the sunrise; Reading myths and believing in them just enough that I could see the edges of the stories in the corner of my vision when I turned my head quickly. When did I stop? Is this what being a grown up is about? Is this all there is?

Helen Keller once said that life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing at all. It is no one else’s fault if I’ve been living an empty life. It’s been my choice. And now I’m choosing something else. It may turn out to be a horrible mistake. But it will be my mistake.

Friday, I gave notice at my job. They were gracious and we took a few days to negotiate my last work day.

Soon, I’m going to go for a walk. A very long walk along the Appalachian Trail. Then I’m going to  explore the world. I want to do it slowly so I have the time to learn about places and people and history. I want to eat the local food, dress like the natives, hear their creation myths and gods. I want to learn what makes them laugh. I don’t expect to have much money. I may never again own a house or a car or fancy clothes. This isn’t glamorous or glorious. I’ll probably spend far more time dirty and cold and hungry than I have been. I’ll certainly be lost and maybe even lonely. But maybe I’ve been comfortable for too long. Certainly I’ve been eating more than I need. I just know I have to try something else before I forget that change is possible.

So it’s all very simple really. I’m changing my life for no other reason than I want to. For no other reason than to save myself.

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Beth

I'm a professional vagabond. I quit my cubical job in January 2014. Since then, I've hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Camino, and taught English in Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Mexico and Peru. I'm exploring the world and you can come too!

14 thoughts on “Saving my life”

  1. Hey Beth,
    I am going to follow your journey and I know it will inspire me to follow my dreams too.
    Thanks,
    Anne from Metcam

    1. Great to hear from you! I think anytime someone follows an authentic dream, it makes the whole world better. Say hi to Bruce and everyone at Metcam.

  2. Looking forward to hearing more. what an inspiration. I relate to feeling like I don’t need more things and wanting to do more, be more connected to people and nature. Hopefully will be taking my own journey in the near future.

    1. I hope you will share your journey with your friends and family. I can envision actually DOING my hike because others have gone before me and shared their story. It’s still scary to jump off the ledge, but you know it is possible, you have ideas of how to prepare. You can be an inspiration to others.

  3. This is going to be such an amazing walk! You are truly an inspiration. I have dreams of my own for this year and reading your post, just made me even more excited to make them come true!

    1. I would love to hear about what your dreams are! I’ve spent the last five years preparing for this one. I’m sure to many it seemed like a sacrifice, but I find the Big Dream motivating, so it wasn’t a sacrifice for me. In this world you can have (almost) anything you want, but you can’t have everything. You have to focus. So make a plan and follow those dreams.

  4. Your description of what you want to change is very touching. I admire you for giving up the comfortable and moving towards something more meaningful. You are an inspiration

    1. I hope to find that comfortable, much like sanity, is over-rated. As with every dream, there is the possibility of complete failure. But I don’t think so. I’ve planned; I’ve prepared. I’ve talked to others who have gone this way. I’ve made choices. And now I’ve doing it. At least I won’t be bored!

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