Those who have known me for any significant amount of time, are probably aware of my work ethic. I tend to pride myself on how hard I can work on something because I think/thought that hard work and determination is what defined us as “men”. now, don’t get me wrong though, I do believe to some capacity, that it does. My father is one of hardest working people I know. He taught me that nothing worth having comes without effort. It took me some time to actually figure out exactly what that meant. But now, I couldn’t agree more. Here’s a question: Where do we draw the line? When do we ask “Am I just working to work or am I working toward something?”
Our culture has set a precedence on working and money over happiness and experience. I believe it that may have to do with our country being founded by hard working (by hard I mean back breaking and potentially fatal) men and women that were building a brand new nation. Now, I don’t want to get into colonialism, or the genocide of the Native Americans or any of that. I’m not only, under educated on the subject but I also don’t want to start a giant debate over “who killed who” if you know what I mean. The point I am trying to make is only that maybe there wasn’t the technology then that we so depend on now, so they had to use pure human generated brute force (for the most part). There wasn’t time to be happy (most people worked from sun up to sun down) or to go searching for the meaning of everything, as they were just happy to be alive and not sick or worse. Swinging hammers, coal mining, plowing and farming, just to name a few, was just everyday life for them. I feel like all of those “hard working” traits have been ingrained into our DNA purely for survival. I mean, if you know anything about natural selection you know what I’m saying. Today, invention of the internet, HUGE technological advances, and medical discoveries have been paramount in our survival as a species. Although we don’t necessarily have to “work as hard” physically, due to the afore mentioned, we still have this intense urge to overwork ourselves. Albeit, for money and stature instead of survival and food for our families, that unmistakable drive is still there.
After reading this article “Why I’m Setting Myself Back In My Career In Favor Of A Happier Life” I have realized something about myself that has been happening but I wasn’t really conscience of it. Over the last couple years I have had an exponential increase of wanderlust. The more I travel the more I want to travel. I have always been a bit of an explorer, even as a little kid. Up until recently I never knew why. It’s not in my blood. Neither of my parents travel, nor my siblings. Come to think of it I’m the only one in my family that does any substantial amount of traveling. Ever since high school I have bounced from job to job, residence to residence, state to state never knowing why. I have however, consistently been drawn to the outdoors. Attracted to not just for the sake of being outside, but for that feeling of unimportance. I realize that last sentence many sound weird to some of you but let me see if I can explain. When in nature (especially in the middle of nowhere) I feel like the smallest, most insignificant piece of nothing floating through the landscape. The trees don’t care that I am there, the spiders don’t understand how long of a day I had, and the deer couldn’t care less that I am still single or that I have bills due. Nothing matters. Doing this helps me realize that it is true, none of that shit matters. Your bills, your instagram followers, your brand new car, how many beers you can chug or who won the ball game. The only thing that should matter is that you are there in the moment, that moment. Not worrying about all the bullshit back home, the negativity of social media, the buzzing of a tattoo machine, the lawn that needs to be mowed or that you had to get up to change the channel because your batteries stopped working on the remote. The same could be said for standing at the Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. I have never felt less human then I did being surrounded by hundreds of humans. Because of this I have found myself working less often in town and traveling/working more out of town. More times than I can count, I have thought to myself that I need to buckle down and stay home, tattoo more, paint more, work more. Why? I mean really, why? To pay for a house that is WAY to big for just me to live in? A brand new car? Fancy phones and laptops? No, none of that makes sense to me now. I’ve tried and tried. Maybe it’s not meant to be answered. Maybe it’s life’s ultimate rhetorical question. Do I really need those things? A GIGANTIC resounding NO is appropriate. We don’t need those things. Admittedly, I really like stuff. I do. I have a lot of it. I will say that most of my “possessions” have some purpose. Drums to create music (really bad music), a nice bed to sleep in, a whole ton of camping equipment and shoes…lots of shoes. I’m not perfect so don’t judge me. We really are our things, our possessions aren’t we? I don’t want to be like that anymore. I want to be a better me not a brand new out of the package me. More like a worn in, seasoned version of me. Listen, I’m definitely not suggesting that I want to drop off the grid completely, as I love tattooing way too much and social media is a great tool for me to be able to do that. I am however, thinking I need to break that cyclical thought of consumerism that we have so become accustomed to. Working and purchasing, working and purchasing…et cetera.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we need to learn to get out of our routines and really experience life before it passes us by. I mean, after all is said and done, we can’t take any of our possessions with us to what ever “afterlife” you believe in (if you believe in one at all). All we can do is take our experiences and our relationships with us, not only into the next life literally, but also passing them on to others so that your life and your journey may live on forever through them. Lets break that cycle. Lets be better humans. Lets get weird.