While I absolutely loved the work that I did throughout my career thus far, especially my time working within academia, I used to work in a concrete jungle. The only sounds I could hear as I worked away at my computer answering endless emails and juggling a workload that was more than I could handle, would be the hum and chugging of giant heating and cooling systems, and the spittle noises of pipes that we used to refer to as in the architectural style of “industrial chic”. Every once in a while, to my saviour and delight, laughter, conversation and joy would fill the environment, but in the quiet times, the silence of a sterile work environment could be the most deafening sound in the world. It literally hurt my creativity to the point that I am not sure how I ever got anything truly of value done while I worked in that environment.
Now, as I lay and gently swing in my hammock with my laptop, my chihuahua happily walking around looking for as much as he can discover within his leash-bound radius, I continue my satisfying and stimulating career. From the comfort of wherever in the world I want to be, I work on some of the most rewarding collaborations with the most inspiring people that I have met through my writing connections around the world. The spitter-spatter of large industrial pipes and the ping-panging and the excruciating groans of a concrete building settling into its foreverness are now replaced by the chirping of the kinds of birds I’ve never heard before, the god-knows-what critters making their presence gently known, and the gentle breeze moving through the palm trees that are so generously providing my shade. Later, I may take my laptop to a small restaurant or one of the beach bars in town, order some coffee, and let the sound of the waves of the Pacific be what cuts the silence of the solitude I need to do my best work. Maybe I won’t. I can decide that later.
I don’t consider myself lucky to have this kind of life, but I admit that I thought outside the box and then decided to see how I could also live outside the box. I’d build the kind of life where I decided that I wanted to do my own thing yet still be profitable. I don’t have some big nest egg, or trust fund, or endless source of income that allows me the luxury to work in the environment that I have chosen. Like many times before, I just decided to take a leap of faith, knowing that that universe would catch me.
I can’t dismiss my times those times spent amongst the deafening silence of the concrete jungle. Within the structures I now live outside are the learning experiences that provided my ticket to my dreams. I put in my time, did my education, found my limitations, learned a lot of hard lessons, and ultimately found myself through my work. Now I work to live, where my life, the beauty and wonder that this world has to offer, and the love of my family takes first priority. It’s these things that fuel my soul and my zest for life. The work is what provides me the mental stimulation I’ve always needed, and taking the risk to go on my own is proving to be the best use of my skills and talents developed through the days of the concrete jungle. My approach, while involving some degree of financial sacrifice, is proving to be profitable in the ways I need it to be. I don’t need to be rich; as I’ve already have all I need to be happy.