“You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.”
-Seneca: On The Shortness of Life
Where Did This Blog Come From?
I am jobless—that is, without a job by my own accord.
For this reason I offer my first post reintegrating myself into the role of yoga instructor and general fitness dude. I figured I’d start this blog off with a brief distillation of where I am and what brought me to this place, full circle from where I was when I left Hawaii a year and a half ago. In doing so I’d also like to address something that we as westerners tend to overlook for a great deal of our adult lives: adaptability.
I don’t mean hollow adaptability in the sense of “I’ve tried quinoa—I think I could warm up to it’’ or “those new Star Wars flicks are kinda growing on me.” Instead I want to briefly look at physiological adaptability, both good and bad, in the state of our bodies and our general disposition on life and the (very) brief time that we get to spend here on this big blue sphere.
So, back to where I am: jobless. I quit an ostensibly lucrative sales job working for one of the fastest growing tech companies in Colorado. I’m thirty-three (almost thirty-four) and I walked away from what would have equated to a potential six-figure salary with excellent benefits in a scenic location aside Table Mesa between Golden and Denver.
Why? Because I could…and because I needed to.
Take that in for a moment. Just consider how juvenile the above paragraph reads. I am well aware of it, and I can assure you that I came to that conclusion at more than a little bit of a struggle. I finally had settled into my ‘role’ and it would appear that I “couldn’t hack it.” Those of you who really know me (those few of you out there) understand that I’ve always been a bit of a non-conformist, but I don’t want this post to turn into ME ME ME. Instead I encourage you to substitute my situation for yours. Just fill in the blanks
I quit an ostensibly lucrative __________ job working for ___________ in _______________. I’m __________________years old and I walked away from what would have equated to a potential six-figure salary with excellent benefits, perks, etc.
Now where do you find yourself as you settle into this new space? Are you frantically struggling to pay your mortgage, car payments, credit cards, etc? Can you find a space of contentment in the uncertainty of where you stand financially, or does the thought of losing control make you feel like you’re being slowly digested by a giant crocodile? So again, I quit because I could—that is I found myself struggling with letting go of the things that I care about to pursue a potential fat paycheck, fancier car, yada yada yada. However, I had not gotten so deeply consumed by it that I couldn’t make my way back out of the murk. I realized that not only did l have the distinct feeling that I wasn’t really helping anyone besides the company, but also that I was settling—adapting both physically and psychologically—into a role that was completely foreign to me less than a year ago and spoke to absolutely NONE of my passions. Like pretty much everyone else I know in a similar eight-to-five position, I had begun to adjust to the stressors of this modern office environment. Staring at a screen and sitting all day, deadlines, the hustle to work in the morning and the struggle home after, sleeping less, eating poorly, general lack of exercise and, well, just plain joylessness. Some might say I couldn’t handle it, and perhaps I couldn’t. But that begs the question: Why should I have to?
The Slow Decline
Our bodies and our minds are hyperaware of environmental stimulus and this principle applies universally in every waking (and non-waking) moment of our lives. Our living tissues mold around our habits and our abilities, regardless of the context of the conversation. The general trajectory of the typical American life goes something like this:
Birth⇒growth⇒LOTS of movement⇒education⇒lots of chairs and considerably less movement⇒stress⇒career/even less movement⇒more stress & some ugly disease for good measure⇒retire, golf, etc.⇒death.
Obviously this is a bit of a gross generalization, but the key trait in each stage is that we adapt to what and where we are. Children grow and play with full range of motion, perfect flexibility and a pretty killer (and effortless) textbook squat position. Then we sit down in chairs from the age of about six to about age sixty, and if we’re not sitting in chairs we’re repeating the same physical motions ad nauseam until our bodies simply begin to fall apart. Read: swinging hammers, wearing heeled shoes, clicking a mouse & typing (carpal tunnel syndrome), and the list goes on and on. Again just fill in the blanks for your situation and acknowledge how humdrum it has become for you. We adapt to whatever our work entails until our bodies get tired of it and start to break down. Similarly, we condition ourselves to believe that buying a bigger house, or the newest Apple product (despite the fact that your old one is still perfectly serviceable) or other things that will make the next guy jealous will bring us joy. And at what cost? We sit in a chair, destroying our physical bodies and smothering our spirit because we believe it is what is expected of us, when in reality, the only standard you should be living up to is what makes you feel truly great. In short, we feed our ego, or the competitive narcissist inside us all, for the sake of futility, wasting the most precious young years of our lives in order to financially fortify ourselves to facilitate comfort for our future broken selves.
As the quote preceding this post implies, the shadowed absurdity of this situation lies in the fact that you could literally die today, while sitting at your desk, and your legacy would be limited not to your wealth of experiences and the joy that you spread to your loved ones, but instead to a limited pile of funds and STUFF that was earned through years of debilitating physical and emotional stress.
What’s the Point?
SO, yes I quit my good job, and yes I am almost definitely poorer than you, but what I have gained at that expense is time and access to the resources to do what I want to do: to teach yoga and help other people ‘maladapt’ their bodies to get out of the void. My calling is to re-educate people about how to start living & moving again and hopefully how to adapt in retrograde to reconnect with the body you were born with instead of the crippled one that you have adjusted to for the sake of the insatiable ego.
I’m not asking you to follow suit, as obviously many people reading this likely have children and genuine concerns for $$$. I’m instead encouraging you to take a look at your life, and the way you feel on a day-to-day basis. Do you love—or even like what you do? Are you helping others and not just boosting that ego of yours? Are you happy and vital or do you feel beat down, distressed and broken? Take a look at your life, your body and your spirit and see where that adaptation has become a negative instead of a positive. Most importantly, what can you do to break the cycle and re-discover the joyful exuberance of that energetic little kid that you once were?
And this could be simple, too, so you don’t need to commit career suicide. More appropriately the scale of these changes can be measured in little things:
- taking a couple laps around the building during your break
- stretching your back and hips several times throughout the day to counteract the postural deficiencies from sitting
- sitting quietly with eyes closed and taking some deep breaths instead of pounding another cup of coffee
- …or even deliberately coming to work late once in awhile to get an extra hour of much needed shut-eye.
The show will go on, I promise. It’s more about breaking with the rituals that we all encounter to stimulate the best version of you.
I’d be lying if I said writing this weren’t a nerve-wracking step for me too, but this being my first post on this here new blog, I obviously hope you will continue to check it out so I can share my experiences with you. Have a look around the site. I hope to keep growing and with your assistance and guidance we can help ourselves grow together, move together and just generally be happy with who we are.
Until next time, I leave you with one more quote to chew on from the mighty Seneca:
“As far as I am concerned, I know that I have lost not wealth but distractions. The body’s needs are few: it wants to be free from cold, to banish hunger and thirst with nourishment; if we long for anything more we are exerting ourselves to serve our vices, not our needs.”
Seneca: On The Shortness of Life.
See you soon.