Fifty years ago this month, maybe next month, I got my first paying job. I was in heaven. I thought for sure I would be rich in no time at all.
At the time our family was living on one, maybe two, acres, and we had a large garden and some calves. We could have had a couple of pigs, but those might have showed up the next year, or the year after. We pretty much grew our own food. So, as you can imagine, there was always something that had to be done all the time.
As long as I can remember my father was a truck driver. When I got my first job Dad owned his own truck and worked seven days a week. He was gone from well before daylight until mid-afternoon. That left me, the oldest, in a position where I was responsible for a few things that had to be done before I left for school—things like feeding the critters. When I got home from school there were more chores. And homework that the teachers always enjoyed handing out.
When the neighbor offered me a real, paying job for the summer I was excited. When my father got home I had to tell him that I was going to be making money doing some real work. My excitement was not infectious. His response was, “You can work for the man when your chores are done.”
I was devastated. There was just barely enough hours in the day to get everything done as it was. That meant I had to find a way to do my homework and my chores, and still have enough of the day left to put in a couple of hours making some real money. I was facing a dilemma. That night I came up with a plan. I could do my homework on the school bus, and if I organized my chores I could get them done as soon as I got home. Then I’d have a few hours of daylight left to work for the neighbor.
Everything was going to work out fine. I was going to be a millionaire in no time. I figured I could put in eight hours a day every Saturday and Sunday. I figured wrong. My chores were still there on the weekends, and then there was that damned garden to tend. That home life stuff was cutting into my paycheck.
Well, everything worked out okay. I was young and had enough energy to do all the work I needed to do to satisfy my father, and still collect a paycheck. There was even enough time left over for me to play baseball.
Oh, to be young again.
Now I find that earning a steady paycheck the traditional way is interfering with the things I really want to be doing. I want to work more on this blog. I want to write, and publish, a few more stories. I could even learn a little something about video production. Then there’s the product reviews. I’ve got a great water filter I want to test, and a new solar cooker that isn’t even out of the package yet. I’m sure you’d like to read about those things.
Let’s not forget about travel. I want to begin traveling more. That’s what I set out to do 13 1/2 years ago. I seem to have lost my way. Oh, and I want to read more. And sleep late any time I want.
Well, I’ve come to a major decision. I’ll be hitting the road before the month sees its final day. I decided long ago that I don’t need a million dollars to live comfortably. I don’t even need a regular nine to five job anymore. I spent a good portion of my life punching a clock. It’s time for me to enjoy life the way life presents itself to me.
Back in 2004 I started traveling. It was great. But, the life I left behind slowly caught up to me. I had spent too many years working to stop cold turkey. So, I found myself working half to three quarters of the year, and traveling the rest. A job soon became my focus. My travel plans got tossed into the backseat. I realize now that was too much work. I don’t need all the hassles that a full-time job brings about. I need my freedom back. That’s the kind of hassle I want to face everyday. The hassle of trying to decide what to have for breakfast, or just roll over and sleep until lunch.
So, here’s my plan. I should be leaving the California Delta region around the 28th of April. I’ll point the house east and travel by my own rules—the 2X4 Rule. Eventually I’ll turn south. But, you can be sure that I’ll be traveling when and how I want. Within reason, of course.
One of my first tasks will be re-organizing this blog. I’m going to make some changes so that it will be easier to follow my travels, and find a way around this conglomeration of jumbled words. What the heck. I might even get around to making everything make sense. Don’t hold your breath, but it could happen.
What this all boils down to is that I’m in search of the fountain of youth. I’m going to get back that excitement I had fifty years ago. Back then it was about a paying job. About earning money. Now it’s about living as freely as possible. The fountain I’m in search of is firmly planted somewhere down the road. I’m sure of it. I’ll soon be traveling that road, and look forward to sharing what I find with you. If I find the fountain, you can be sure I will…well, let’s just say it’s going to cost you to obtain the location.
Hey, I just might become that millionaire I dreamed I would become fifty years ago.
Good night, Mrs. Jackson, wherever you are.