Before i left for Paris and Amsterdam in September, i quit my job. No need to belabor why here, other than to say i just wasn’t happy with the work. Since then, i’ve been either traveling or slacking off, with a couple of interviews and a week or so of finishing up some grueling contract work.
Needless to say, i’ve been granted a lot of time to spend with my thoughts, so it’s fortunate that i’ve been able to do such a good job of drowning them out by building Legos, watching Champions League games (at home! during the day!), and playing a lot of Fieldrunners 2 and FIFA 13. But all this doesn’t add up to much, merely ways of passing the day until i can hang out with people in the evenings, or go play soccer. It’s all desperately uncreative, in the sense that i have nothing to show for most of my days. The Legos will be taken apart at some point, and Xbox achievements do not count.
By the same token, i’m resolved not to jump back into work that maybe isn’t a great fit, so for now, the plan is to line up contract work that lets me do interesting things, and then bugger off and go interesting places. It’s not even that i need the money—i didn’t undertake this plan without having a cushion built up that will last many months longer. In theory.
Despite that, though, it’s been an interesting opportunity to think about my relationship to money, in that no matter how cavalier i am about it (and rest assured, i am), there is still that bit of nervousness when the spigot that fills up your finances is gently turned off. There’s a tendency to want to put your foot over the drain, to have it flow out more slowly, more deliberately. My attitude changes from day to day; some days i feel fine about it and go out and drink with my customary abandon, some days i feel like eating ramen with the blinds drawn.
And it’s interesting to think about money in the sense of a flow, particularly to recognize how many things we interact with on a daily basis are founded on the principle of having everyone be spending money, directly or indirectly in some way for as much of the day as is possible. Subscriptions for this, a fare for that, a fee here, and a bill there. You wake up and you’re not only using things, ideally, you’re using things up. It’s not in my nature to curtail this lifestyle. In the same way i eat an appalling diet and offset it by being highly active, i’m far more comfortable being a hardworking spendthrift.
Still, just the other day, i was thinking about how the act of buying a thing (or at least appearing like you could) lets you into the club, admits you to the civilization of niceness. Buy a cheeseburger, use our bathroom. Gawk at a computer in a warm, modern store. $6 for a beer gets you a nice place to sit. $9 a month lets you compare yourself to the downtrodden Michael Keaton and watch Mr. Mom whenever you want. It’s informative then, when faced with those as identified expenses, items to consider the value of instead of ‘oh, whatever’, to gain some perspective and realize that i’m lucky to have whatever option this is that i’ve chosen, and that nothing going on right now constitutes a problem.
After all, i’m writing this from the Charles River boat docks watching the sun set while you’re still at work.