I had a great conversation this morning on Facebook with my nephew. At 33, he found himself facing a decision - do I keep my job that is frustrating, unrewarding, yet seems necessary in the face of all our cultural and social anxieties, or do I step back and take the huge risk of doing what I love, which is also what I'm good at?
I had a discussion with a church member on Sunday kind of on the same topic. We hadn't had the chance to chat much over the previous couple months, and I was telling him about going part-time at work. I made an observation that really just kind of popped in to my head, but it has a ring of truth about it that I just can't shake. I said that, while I hated to use the word, making the decision to take a step back from the general anxieties we all face concerning the economy and deciding to free oneself from these shackles is counter-cultural. While I recognize that I have certain advantages that allow this decision - a wife that has a career that provides a certain economic cushion and benefits as well - I think that even if this were not the case, making this decision in train with the conscientious decision to make do with less could have been made.
At this particular historical moment, with so much in flux, so much uncertain, it seems to so many people almost crazy to just stop and get off the crazy train. Yet, these very reasons make it necessary that now is that time. I feel more free, more at peace, even as I understand that risks are so much greater now than at some other time. I feel alive, really.
I haven't really dealt much here with the anxiety and frustration with which I was plagued as I went round and round on the question of "What should I do?". Talking with my nephew and the gentleman from church, however, I am more convinced than ever that the decision is right. More than any other feeling, what I feel right now is . . . free. Make it or not, correct or not, I feel free. The rules that say we are restricted by circumstances cannot be defied unless they are . . . defied.
What is most surprising, and pleasing, is how many folks at work have said to me, "Gee, if I could go part time, I would." My response to all of them is the same - "You can do it." Living one's life as a demonstration of what is possible feels good, I suppose. Being free, though . . . that feels like really living.