In a few days, I will be celebrating a year into a life of self-employment. Has it really been a year? Time sometimes makes itself known only after it has passed.
It has been a difficult ride yet it has also been the right one — at least it feels right as I write this — the year I changed the currency of my life.
This journey is by no means an original one. The life well lived is a subject written consistently in history, from Tolstoy to David Wallace Forster. So much so today where everyone is warranted a virtual space where their journeys can easily be shared — this blog included!
But of all the rich literature on this subject, Annie Dillard stated the simplest if not the most straightforward observation, that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.
Let me share how I spent my days before. I worked long hours because my self-worth was measured by my position in the company. It was measured by ranking, by red-amber-green projects, by approvals and more approvals. And in the weekends there was only spending of hard-earned cash, or traveling to places that made me forget about Mondays and the dread it brings. Occasionally there was reading and writing, but even less time with family and equally busy friends.
There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. — Annie Dillard
My parents were growing old and falling ill, and while I love them without reservations, I had no idea who they were. Nor did I make any effort to get to know them.
I maintained relationships where history trumps quality, where loyalty at all costs was rewarded over personal and spiritual growth.
This was, of course, all by my own choosing. And it was by that same choice that I decided to rearrange the way I did things, how I earned, and how I made use of my time.
For the longest time, I felt I was running out of time to do the things in my checklist. Badly made lists have a way of doing that, turning dreams into a rat race of false accomplishments. Looking back, I knew my checklist was trivial; a reinforcement of the belief that I needed to get more things done if I wanted to amount to something. Yet despite the many ticks on my list, I wasn’t being a good daughter, a good friend, a good person.
A year into this “new” life has made me braver. Brave enough to face the person I had become and the life I made as a result of those choices, and brave enough to overthrow the currency I was using to live my life.
At this point, I can offer no advice despite my egoistic need to do so. Some days I struggle to live by my new perspectives, some days it comes naturally, as if I have eased into this new selfhood I have created. Cliché as it may sound, every day I am learning something new about myself, and every day I am reaccepting my flaws, hard as that may be.