Below is a journal entry that I wrote in 2010, a full three and a half years (and a whole new corporate job) before I finally took the leap and left the 9-5 life for good. It’s wild to look back and see how long ago I was feeling that sense of being trapped, and questioning what I wanted out of life.
February 2nd, 2010
sometimes i’ll be lying in bed at night, just about to go to sleep (maybe there’s music on, maybe just a candle or small desk light, or the light of my mac before it shuts down) and i think about life and realize that its GOOD. my life is good. people i love are not far away, healthy, happy. i have a job i am happy at. i actually enjoy going to work every day. my job is not monotonous, and i’m able to be creative. i like my schedule, i like my neighborhood. i like working in manhattan, and living in brooklyn. i am making ends meet, and able to pay my bills and have enough left to go out to dinner or grab a drink with friends when i want.
then all the sudden, all that seems to fade away and i’m left with the horrible thought of… so what?
what now? what does it all mean? is this IT? is this all there is? what am i even DOING here? what does it matter? why am i following these rules? what is my purpose and is the fact that life is good and i am alive all it should take to make me feel… complete?
here i am, going to the same place every day, and even if i enjoy it, some days i just want to get out and travel somewhere else. sometimes i get the urge to draw something or sew something, but if it doesn’t come at a time where i’m at home with nothing else to do then i lose the moment doing something that i didn’t exactly feel inspired to do. i was busy doing something else completely obligatory. but why?
i am following some kind of unwritten rulebook, not allowing me to live in the moment. are people even made to live their lives following rules like this? some days i really just want to go to the airport and buy a plane ticket somewhere else. get away for a weekend, play hooky from work. i like to think i’m that kind of a spontaneous person, but am i really? ah, no. i have to be sensible. i don’t have money for that. that would be irresponsible. if i missed work i could lose my job. blah, blah, blah. and so i don’t go anywhere. i wake up and go to work again. and life is… good.
but whats the worst that could happen if i just took off, left for a while? so WHAT? i just want to LIVE! be with people, talk and listen and learn, see the world, cook food, try new things, explore… but is it a chicken and egg situation? you can’t “live” without money… so you work to get money to enjoy the time you aren’t working… and then you find you’re working so much its hard to actually find the time to “live”…? why does life have to consist of things we don’t want to do, that we have to do, to allow us to do the things we actually want to do?
is that “just the way life is”? how can it be, when the expectation and routine and social structure is something that WE have created? life itself doesn’t have this structure, these rules. we aren’t born knowing them or needing to follow them, until we are taught them. so what is the real meaning and purpose of our lives?
the only thing i can find that makes sense, that could even possibly come close to the meaning of life or at least the way to be happy, is to separate the the bare essentials of human life from the man made structure that we live in. there’s no way that these things we’ve invented, these buildings, these social structures, these apartments and homes and cars and things are going to make us happy. because we were here on this earth long before we invented all these things and i have to believe that from the very beginning we were put on this earth with all the necessary tools to be happy and fulfilled. nature, travel and the amazing beauty of the world, different people and cultures and ways of connecting with other humans… loving people and learning and growing and exploring. THOSE are the things that i think are truly important. but are we doomed to never be able to fully embrace those things, and therefore never be happy, because we’re trapped in some horrible prison of our own making?
all these thoughts tumble around in my head daily, popping up when i least expect it, maybe walking to work, looking up at the sky, thinking how beautiful it is and feeling sad that i have to go into a building which i won’t emerge from until it is dark. but i suppose for most of us, even those that have these thoughts… its easiest not to think about it, to push the thought aside by thinking of whats going on tomorrow, sorting through the mental checklist of errands that need to be done later, or making plans to fill the empty space that is the days ahead.
because after all, who am i to complain? life is good…