I am in such a strange place. These oats are delicious, especially when mixed with mashed blackberries I just gathered, fresh from the side of the road. They are mixed with water, as milk seemed frivolous at a time like this. I am a white, American female with a loud voice and straight teeth. I am talented and savvy. I have all the qualifications to be bringing in easy wealth, and yet…I’m not.
All around us are influential speakers, writers, coaches, and entrepreneurs. The advice I’ve picked up has been pretty consistent: stop trading time for money and find a way to enjoy each drop of life, even/especially the time you are pouring into your work. My father always told me that j-o-b stood for jackass-of a-boss, and I’ve never been able to get over that. I have set my expectations high, like most of us millenials do. I won’t go too far into how the “you can do anything you set your mind to!” attitude has both blessed and cursed us all, as I think we are feeling the effects of that boldly enough throughout our every damn day. I can hardly eat this oatmeal without worrying that my honest thoughts about it will either bring in more oatmeal or leave me hungry for another week. Worry never served anyone, but god is it a powerful fist clenched around my brain.
So we stop trading time for money. The billionaires, like Tim Ferriss of the 4-Hour Workweek, tell us this is the answer, the key to success and true happiness. They admonish executives to quit their high-stress jobs and move to Tahiti where they can work remotely. Jess Lively, a brilliant explorer and sharer of wisdom, interviews young entrepreneurs who speak of their revolution and awakening: “I was a high-strung, type-A person with great grades and I was the MVP of the team and played first-chair cello and was never really happy and now I quit my job and blog full time about interior design.”
Not a bad life. In fact, it’s exactly the life that many of us are seeking. But here’s the question that swims around in my head and makes my body cringe a little every time I hear these stories: What about those of us who were never type-A? What about the wild and crazy of us who have never known anything but following the heart?
I notice an enormous resurgence of brain-people returning to the heart and gut, realizing they no longer need to prove themselves to the logic and lines that society has drawn around them. They deserve to be happy. My problem has always been the reverse: I have always, from birth, claimed my right to happiness, and have followed it down many a dusty trail. How though…do I move into a space that is both productive and prosperous while remaining true to myself and my birthright to bliss? (Some people may argue that we don’t have a birthright to bliss. More on that later.)
Is wasted time the only way to finally wake up and realize that one needs time more than money? Needs happiness more than approval of others? I find myself already there…pursuing happiness even it means no milk for the oats. Spending over my head and ending up with nothing week after week, because I simply believe in abundance. And then there is nothing. This world is full of paradox, and my head is no exception. Thanks to ol’ Walt for giving us all permission to be paradoxical… “I am large. I contain multitudes.”
If you need any writing whatsoever, Holly Sullivan is for hire. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s worth her weight in gold.