Lighthouse

August 16, 2004

Michele and I had a wonderful discussion yesterday morning as we lazily stayed in bed for an hour or so after waking up. For some time now we both have been struggling with feelings of depression and we both have expressed an occasionally desire to "go get in the car," our euphuism for committing suicide.

The months of job searching took their toll on our energy; spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally we are exhausted. Even small setbacks overwhelm us, and given our current state we have a hard time believing it will ever be "better" again. If the future could only promise more of what we'd already been through then why stay? We both firmly believe in multiple lifetimes, leaving this life only prepares us for the next. We don't have a fear of death, but we do want to respect this life and give it a full measure. Our real fear is leaving some part of the lesson this time around undone thus creating a need to re-live in some fashion the circumstances of our current life.

Eventually our discussion took us to a new idea, one that we had danced around before but never fully explored. In short we discovered that we aren't so much ready to leave this lifetime, but rather just our current lifestyle. No matter how good a job either or both us may have we will always be at the mercy of that job. Three of our last four moves have been for purely economic reasons, specifically the loss of my job. The latest iteration of this cycle has already spawned the next move. We are renting an apartment for a year to learn the area (and test the job waters) before committing ourselves to a mortgage.

Part of our reasoning for moving to a larger city was the belief that the end of one job engagement and the start of a replacement would only mean driving to a new work location. In other words we hope KC has enough opportunity to shelter us from moving again until we are ready. Having this cushion is nice, but it isn't enough as it turns out. We want to be free from the tyranny of working for someone else. We want a situation that is largely, if not completely under our control, one that isn't as invasive into our lives as the traditional work in an office model.

We want a modern-day lighthouse. Everything about that "model" of work excites us; the isolation from others, the need for self-reliance, the going-it-alone aspect, and the ability to work together without an arbitrary work enforced separation 40 or more hours a week. When I was still active in the martial arts I dreamed of having a two-story structure with a dojo on the ground floor, and living quarters upstairs. The closet thing we've found recently to this is being the on-site manager for a long-term storage facility.

When we first discovered there were people who lived on the grounds of some large storage facilities, and who managed them, I was hesitant. Having just spent three months and countless hours finding a new job I was firmly plugged into the tradition work model once again. After our talk Sunday morning however, I am seeing this opportunity in a new light. It is the downstairs dojo, upstairs living quarters idea with a truly viable economic model.

I will admit a certain reluctance to pursue this "lighthouse." Some of that fear is the realization that it will further set me apart from the mainstream of society. Also, it feels like a one-way transition to me. Once we start managing a facility and I leave behind the corporate world of information technology, I doubt I'll ever be able to return. Another piece of my fear is that it would work, that we would be happy and free. For much of my life I have struggled with feelings of guilt whenever I was "too" successful. I have held myself back in the past in order to convince myself that I was just like everyone else. The truth is that I am not at all like everyone else. And moreover, trying to model my life and my decisions on what I think other people might do is highly damaging to me.

So it is leap of faith time. As I have captured this posting today I have come to realize that I want to submit our resumes to the storage facility management and at least learn more about what they are offering. As Richard Bach says in "Illusions," you have to let go of the rocks in order to float free in the crystal stream.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.