Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What I'm Doing With My Summer Vacation.


I received an email from my friend “S” the other day that caught me by surprise. In it, she expressed that she wished she had the guts to do what I’m doing, yet that she also couldn’t imagine “sitting around home alone all day with nothing to do.” Hooyah! It suddenly occurred to me that if she thinks that this is what I’ve been up to (or more accurately, not up to), others more than likely think the same. Not that I care what anyone thinks, (ok maybe a little sometimes), but this is my space, so why not take a moment to set the record straight?

So for today, no pontificating and no sweeping insights. It’s meat and potatoes time. Here’s what I’ve been up to since I fired myself 50 days ago.

The day after the firing, I went to work construction. “D” is renovating his cottage north of Ottawa and graciously offered me the opportunity to jump in and make myself useful. He even got me a tool belt and work gloves so I’d kind of look the part.

I escaped into the birdsong-laden woods near a quiet lake, picked up a shovel and learned to make cement. I nailed and drilled things. I hit things with a sledgehammer. I moved heavy piles of stuff from one place to another. I burned refuse - including the incessant mind chatter that normally dogs me – in a massive bonfire. I whistled. I got dirty, scraped, sweaty and bruised. (Then I bought steel-toed boots at Wal-Mart. Better late than never.)

There is nothing like manual labour to tax the body, clear the mind and free the spirit. When I went to bed each night, every part of my physical being was exhausted. I was using my body in the way it was designed to be used. More, after years spent sitting at an office desk spinning my wheels wondering what the point of it all was, to engage myself in something that quickly produced tangible and measurable results was supremely gratifying. It was a glorious experience which I repeated often over the next several weeks. It was my yoga.

When I wasn’t building a cottage, I was back in Montreal organizing the next phase of my life. I reinforced my network of contacts and let everyone know my current whereabouts. I filed for Employment Insurance. (I now receive a grand total of $750 every two weeks. This covers my monthly mortgage payment and nothing else. More on this in another entry.) I put my house up for sale. (It sold in two weeks. I’ve no idea where I’ll be living come August 1. But that takes care of those mortgage payments, now, doesn’t it....) I’ve been giving things away (see previous entry) and selling things. I’ve started developing ideas for my own copy writing business. I get up at 5:30 am and return emails. I go to networking meetings. I meet people. I go to job interviews, even though I have no intention of taking a full-time job at this point. I blog. I have two agendas; one online version and one hard copy. (Admission: I do miss having a Blackberry. It truly kept me organized and in touch. If anyone out there is feeling particularly charitable....)

This is not a vacation, nor was it ever intended to be. I quite honestly am busier now than when I was working.

When one frees one’s mind of oppression it’s amazing how much space and energy becomes available for innovation and creativity. And it’s true what they say: necessity is the motherhood of invention. I have to rely on my street smarts now. Survival instincts.

And lo and behold, a realization: this is actually how we’ve been hardwired to operate since the dawn of time. We just forget, as our minds become numbed by the micro management of the minutiae of our daily lives over months, years and decades.

Ok so there was a little pontificating and a sweeping insight or two. I can’t help it.

Did I mention I’m taking a trip around the world?

People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results.
Albert Einstein

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Wow, I had no idea you were doing all this! Looks like you're discovering a lot of very interesting things.

It's funny... you're living a lifestyle closer to mine, now. I don't have a job... no income or anything. I completely depend on what other people give to me to pay my bills. It's wild, sometimes, isn't it?

But... like you've been saying in a roundabout way... what do we actually need? Sandra Unger at Woodland Hills Church called it "Stuffocating"... suffocating in stuff.