DO WHAT YOU WANT
There is an Alan Watts video “What if Money was no Object” which asks one very simple question – and yes well pretty self explanatory in the title; What would you like to do if money was no object? How would you really like to spend your life?
Okay, so technically that’s 2 questions but one very big idea.
We are always asked what we want to be when we grow up and the answers when we are young are always so bold and colourful. Its funny how the answer to that question seems to change the older we get, the more thought that goes into it, the more limitations we seem to find.
At Uni I remember one conversation from the kitchen of our flat essentially asking the same thing – what would we all really want to do or be?
The question alone dumbfounded me. We were coming to the end of our university time, surely we had figured that out. But when it became apparent that the long expensive degrees aren’t always chosen based on a field with which we choose to dedicate most of our time, rather chosen based on its potential for income it made me seriously question my own choices.
Its been just over 2 years now since finishing University and in light of not letting career or social pressures dictate my future I chose to fill that time collecting many amazing experiences and doing absolutely nothing with my degrees.
I do actually realise that money is an object and a pretty handy one at that.
Sometimes people seem to assume that I’m living this magical, unattainable life with some magical gold card that gives me a pass everywhere but this is unfortunately not the case. And yes, like a normal human being, I do have to work.
The jobs have by no means been glamourous. Working on a yacht does not mean living like a baller on a yacht, it means getting up at the break of day to clean toilets and ensure there is no dust and heaven forbid any finger marks on any surface.
Working in New York City does not mean living in a fancy studio apartment in Manhattan and getting your driver to drop you at your high rise office building overlooking the city. It means commuting from Brooklyn to a job which pays less than $8 an hour 5-7 days a week to pay your outrageously expensive rent.
And all the time you are definitely questioning yourself, what have I done? what am I really doing with my life?
But then I’m on the phone to home and I’m being asked “When are you going to get a real job?” and instead of scaring me into actually looking for a job to justify 4 years of University I am reminded about why it is I am doing what I’m doing.
Because although I may be cleaning toilets on a yacht I get to do it in Monaco, in France, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro and places a lot of people do not get to go to or see.
And because although living in New York City is a lot less “Sex in the City” and a lot more “Survivor” it is living in New York City and who can deny that as an experience.
Without trying to talk about myself too much what I am trying to say is that it is not always about dedicating our time to chasing the big dollars and prestigious job titles, or searching for this ideal lifestyle, or whatever it is we search for and that it is 100% okay to spend a few years of your life actually just living.
So what if it’s hard to find a “real” or “good” job later down the track? It’s also hard to have the same kind of carefree reckless experiences the older you get so take your pick.
Sure money is a necessity and after all it does pay for some pretty amazing experiences but when it gets to the point where it rules not only our day to day lives but it shapes the big life decisions that we should be questioning how much control we give it.
There is the quote from the Dalai Lama when asked what surprised him most about humanity. He answers “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future, he lives as if he is never going to die and then dies having never really lived.”
I guess the point is, do what you want.
If you want to be a lawyer, or a teacher, or a top dog CEO then do it, if you want to be a waitress, an actor,a yoga instructor, if you want to start up your own business or spend all your money travelling the world then do it. But do it because you really want to do it, because you are happy to give up your time doing it. Not because you feel governed by some kind of pressure to do it.
In the end we all have choices to make and it is up to us to live with those choices. You don’t get to go back and relive your teens, or your twenties or any other year for that matter so we owe it to ourselves to make all of our years count. Not after the next promotion, not in 2 years, not even in 2 weeks, but right now. Go out and live a little. Life is too short.