2017 has come to a close and now it is time to explain why I have started this blog. Starting this year a few very large life events are going to occur. It all starts with a simple question that people ask each other.
“What do you do?”. Anyone that knows me on a less than surface level knows I have always despised this question. It literally made me ill to get asked, and to answer it. What you are really asking when you ask this question is “How much money do you make so I can compare whether we are compatible on the socio-economic ladder and whether I have anything to gain from you”. It’s frankly disgusting. On top of that, I was embarrassed to answer it. Not because I am embarrassed by my profession, there is nothing wrong with being a funeral director. The strange looks, the asinine jokes, or the complete misunderstanding of what a funeral director does, partnered with my disdain for talking about what I do in order to earn a paycheck are just a few reasons. Mind you, I only picked a career so I can afford to live is a constant reminder that we are forced to trade in a good portion of our lives so that we can afford to buy things that we do not need, chasing happiness that we cannot get from anything we buy. It is against my values.
Towards the end of this year, I have started correcting people when they ask me this question. My reply has been that I earn money as a funeral director so that I can do what I value. I then explain that what I value is travelling so that I can take pictures. This is what brings me happiness. Now, of course, people look at me in disdain because they want to know how I can make money doing that, and how I can afford to travel so often. Well, this is an opportunity to make that clear.
I have embraced a more minimalist lifestyle. Minus the occasional gadget I only buy things I absolutely need, and I try to spend money only on experiences. For example, travel, consuming art such as film, museums, spending time with the people I value.
What people do not see is that what I do to earn money is a 24/7 job. People do not die on a schedule. I work all hours of the day, all holidays, and have to be ready basically every moment I am in town to respond to work in a timely fashion. So in 2017, with the help of my co-workers, they made it possible for me to take a week off a month. Something I haven’t done in the decade I have been there. Traveling for a week a month sounds like a lot but anyone that works a full-time job likely gets 8 days off a month and they don’t work 24 hours a day. They also do not see the work I put into travelling very inexpensively.
For Example. My first trip of the year I travelled via air from Orlando–>Boston–>Iceland–>London–>Amsterdam–>Orlando. Five flights and altogether the tickets were $423 TOTAL. That’s less than your normal round-trip ticket to San Francisco. I spend house scouring kayak/kiwi/google flights looking for crazy deals and I let the prices dictate where and when I go to these places. I stay in the cheapest places, even choosing to sleep in my car rental in Iceland 2 nights to save money. I eat cheap meals, I cut corners on everything.I travel with only a backpack. I do laundry at locations to avoid the crazy bag fees. I have become as frugal as possible in order to maximize the number of experiences I can have because I value the experiences more than the comforts.
In my act to minimize my life, I have sold most of my possessions. My house is for sale. Really, anything that doesn’t fit into my backpack is for sale. On April 1st, 2018 I will be retiring from my profession. I will then just travel full time. I have saved, invested, and clawed my way into a situation that with some frugal living, a bit of creativity, and hopefully a lucky break or two I will not be required to work again. That isn’t to say that I will never work again, but when I do find something that I trade my time for my money it will be something that I value. Something I will be able to talk about with people with bright excited eyes.
I have no actual plan. This is what throws the people that have followed this saga. I am going to completely wing it. The loose plan is to establish residency in the Netherlands and use it as a home base to explore Europe and Asia in perpetuity until something else draws my attention. I plan on blogging, really mastering my photography and seeing if it can somehow be turned into a career without taking away my childlike drive for it, podcasting, and maybe even writing a book. I am just going to go with the flow, be open to any experience that excites me, and really just pay attention to opportunities and explore as many of them as I can until I find a niche.
We only get one life to live. My “New Year’s Resolution” is to protect my serenity at all costs and make sure all my actions are based on my one goal. Maximising experiences and enjoying the only life I will ever know. There will be people I miss and people that value my friendship enough to make the extra effort to keep up with me and support my choice. Either way, it really doesn’t matter, I am going to continue to be the best me that I can be.