When I turned 30, something strange happened. Call it a quarter life crisis, or maybe a crisis of faith, or maybe even the call of the road less travelled. Whatever name it went by, the result was the same. I gave up a steady, safe and easy job that I had been doing for nearly 8 years in order to take some time out and find myself. I know that may sound slightly pretentious and simple in its terms of life goals, but after turning 30 I realised that my youth was pretty much over and I had become a proper grown up man that I honestly didn’t much care for. Everything in my life was safe and predictable. I needed a change; I needed to do something stupid and impulsive.
So I handed in my resignation and happily told everyone I knew that I was doing the whole “drop in, drop out” thing for a while. The world is full of self-important people who have to do something, but in my opinion the art of doing nothing is the most glorious and fulfilling accomplishment a man can ever hope to achieve. There is nothing quite like the glorious sense of contentment and satisfaction you feel after spending a whole day just sitting, reading and listening to music. In this world we are taught to be go, go, go, to feel the Earth’s spin and to make every second count. But some people are so desperate to watch every second tick by that they forget to do anything with them. Always they make plans; 5 year career trajectory, 10 year family planning, 25 year mortgage, 50 year retirement plan. But what of today? What of this precious second we are all living in right now? Have you enjoyed it? Have you used it wisely or have you used it just as a stepping stone towards a future that will bare as much relation to the image in your head as the present does in those hokey 50’s sci-fi movies.
I don’t expect everyone to appreciate the sense of having done something worthwhile without actually having really done or achieved anything, but those 42 months were a gift to myself from the past, present and future. Without them I would not have discovered a whole new side to myself, a side of new challenges and new friends. In these 42 months I have connected with special individuals that I would never have come into contact with otherwise and that in itself was worth more than any promotion or payrise.
I have made firm friendships and connections with people from all over the world, from free flowing married artists in Illinois; to Scottish visionaries who have allowed me to be read all over the world; I have even danced with the voice of the doomed, somehow living to tell the tale of sushi knifes and duct tape. I even fought the good fight for peace and justice against bigoted idiots who are happy to support terrorism as long as it comes with a green tint and friendly accent. All of these people will stay with me in one way or another. They have helped make me a newer and better person. But after three and a half years I am ready to start again with a new outlook and belief thanks to my tranquil storm of creativity and knowledge.
Not many people will ever have the opportunity to do what I have done. The modern way of living just doesn’t allow people to drop out for a couple of years anymore. Just the cost of putting enough gas in your car to do the essentials requires you to have at least a part-time job. In an ideal world I would pass this gift on, somehow able to allow a young artist the time and means to discover a whole new world within himself.
But with every “drop in, drop out”, there must inevitably come a “drop out, drop in”. A time when the harsh realities of life must at long last be addressed. So here I sit, a few years older, a few years wiser, doing pretty much the same job I was doing before. From outward appearances you would struggle to see what exactly I had changed in those 42 months? I wish I could actually show you what I had done, but everything that I have achieved has been of a personal and internal nature. All I can offer is this short story for you to read along with the faint hope that it will make you smile in appreciation.
I see the world with new eyes, eyes that are now open to new possibilities and adventures. For 42 months I slipped the straightjacket of conformity and society and did whatever the hell I wanted.
If you ever get the chance to do the same….. I highly recommend it.