I’m sure you’ve seen the memes on the internet that tell you to quit your job and do what you love. In fact, I just googled “quit your job and do what you love” and here are four images from the first page that came up:
You’ll also find plenty of articles telling you “why you should quit your job and do what you love,” as well as how to do it, as shown in the links below.
I have yet to read these or any other content on the matter of quitting your job. Though I will say I was thoroughly inspired by a documentary I saw years ago titled The Call of the Mountain.
It's about a man living in Athens who returns to Crete after his cousin is murdered. He does this to tend to his cousin's duties as a shepherd and cheesemaker in the foreboding White Mountains. The film inspires a sense of freedom…a sense of duty to keep tradition alive and reconnect with your roots. This wasn’t new to me. It’s been in me my entire life in an almost preternatural way, eluding a concrete form or definition. But it’s distracted me from relationships. In the back of my mind, I've struggled with that balance of "make the most of the time you have" with "is it right to start something that you can see the end for whenever you move to Greece?" Or maybe conversely...will you always wonder about the life you could have had if you didn't settle down here in the US? It’s why my house is, with the exception of vinyl records, family heirlooms, and collection of Barbie dolls (it's what happens when you grow up with girls), is mostly empty (less stuff to move some day). It’s why as a rule, I don’t move further west from the East Coast because I can’t bring myself to move further away from Greece.
I’ve also mentioned the existential conversations I’d have with myself when I was losing my shit in traffic…screaming about how human beings weren’t mean to be in metal boxes (cars) dying on the highway. I don’t think human beings are meant to be in cubicles either for that matter. I remember one time when I got a real job…and there was an excitement initially. It was in a high-rise building of downtown Philadelphia and the world of “happy hour” was unveiled to me, as was the matter of and being the subject of attention of married women (I thought that kind of sleaze only happened in the service industry). But as I fell into the work routine, I felt like part of me was dying. I felt like I could feel myself becoming unhealthier as I stayed seated at a desk. The longer I stayed, the more it felt like slow suicide but without the commitment (great line Joey).
Now as far as my most recent job, I’d been thinking about taking some time off since 2015, when the refugee crisis really hit hard on the island of Lesvos, Greece. It was a personal thing…a very simple one at that: “I’m able to do something and so far, I’ve chosen not to.” I ignored my gut though, and like a coward, I let myself get talked out of it by people who were just looking out for me. And I got talked out of it again in 2016. And again in 2017. Not again.
On the positive side, at least in 2018 things had fallen into place where I was starting to put together this non profit company (in case this is your first time reading a blog of mine, you can check here and or here to read about it) and I knew I wanted to do a bunch of riding in Greece to collect the social media content I’d use to advertise, so it was a good opportunity to knock out several goals with one long trip to Greece. It also meant I’d have to quit my job.
I think there’s this notion that when people quit their job, there’s this sense of romance involved where you tell your boss to fuck off and storm out the way Joanna does in Office Space.
Or maybe you take the more subtle approach like good ol’ Lester does in American Beauty.
However, the job I had before coming to Greece I really liked. And I absolutely loved all my supervisors and bosses. The only reason I quit is because I had to. But work was awesome about it. When I first talked to my supervisors about it, I received two incredible responses. One was, “You know, many people talk about wanting to go off and do something different, but they don’t know what that is…or how to do it…they just talk about it. You’ve got a specific plan laid out…and I think that in and of itself is pretty incredible. Beyond that…look you know how we feel about you here…so unless that were to change sometime in the next two months…I don’t see why you couldn’t come back.”
Thanks MB...you got me feeling like:
The 2nd was, “What you’re going to go do is incredible….and we are always going to be here. We’ll be lucky to have you come back, because of the kind of person this is going to help you'd develop into.” How fucking lucky am I? Because my boss easily could have said, “Well, it sounds like you don’t wanna work so….pick up your shit and get the fuck out of here slacker.” And I still would have quit because I think if I didn’t do what I’m doing, I’d regret it for the rest of my life. Not to mention, that kind of flattery had me feeling like this:
Now despite that great feeling, about two or three weeks before what was going to be my last day, I suddenly felt something I’d never felt before. At first I was confused,
and then there was a discomfort that turned into some unfamiliar anxiety and I thought, “Whaaaat the fuck is this…I’m feeling….is this what fear is?” And then after a few minutes I realized it wasn’t fear…it was just the realization that paychecks weren’t going to be coming in anymore. And that my incredible health insurance was also going to no longer exist. And also that all my unvested stocks (which were considerable for someone like me) were going to be forfeited. But then I just told myself, “Well…no great thing has ever been done without some sacrifice….so this is a good thing I guess." I still could have gone without the notifications about my unvested stocks being cancelled but no need to get dramatic about that now. And besides, it’s not like I was holding the cash in my hands and someone took it away from me. Also, it’s just money. I’ve wasted enough money in my life….more than enough actually, to feel good about using it in this way.
In fact as of this moment while I write this….months into my trip….I have not once thought, “Shit man…what did you do?” I’ve also ignored the possibility (small but still) that I’ll get back and my former bosses will say, “Hey dude….yeah sorry but we had to fill the position.” And even as I think about it now, I'm just kind of like:
I should probably end this with some unsolicited advice.
I saved up about ten thousand dollars for this trip. That was to include back up money for an emergeny, hotel stays for while I’d be doing the refugee volunteer work in Lesvos, travel within Greece, food, bike maintenance, shopping, and of course bullshit fees I’d have to pay for having more than one suitcase and the bullshit fee I had to pay for transporting a bike. Quick gripe here: Delta Airlines made me sign a non liability agreement for transporting the bike in a bike bag (statistically better than a hard shell case), but also made me pay 150 bucks. Why should I have to pay you to transport something you don’t take the responsibility for? Oh I also still needed to allot of the taxes on my place back in the US and the monthly HOA fees. And for anything I forgot…which is probably everything.
2) Have SOME kind of a back up plan.
More than anything else, it’s important to have peace of mind, otherwise I don’t think you’ll be able to focus on what you set out to do in the first place. In fact, being able to focus has been the most difficult thing…usually when I’m in Greece I’m drinking and paAt the very least I know that if things were to completely fall apart I could probably go wait tables somewhere until I got things under control again…or wait…it’ll be summer so
maybe become a lifeguard? “Let me get this straight…you’re going to pay me to…..GET TAN?!?!”
3) ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS AND FOCUS
In the incredible documentary “Pumping Iron,” which is worth watching even if you’re like me and struggle to even lift the bar alone, there’s a scene where Arnold talks about how when preparing for a contest, he has to become kind of a cold person and not be bothered with anything that takes away his focus. Here’s the scene below.
If that scene piqued your curiorisity, here is the movie in its entirety.
Anyway, being in Greece has allowed me to do the best riding I’ve ever done. But the distractions have also been everywhere. On a beautiful day, when the sun is out and I'm hating the possibility that I'm getting that stupid "biker's tan" on my legs....I OF COURSE would rather being this:
And of course at night I want to go out and meet locals but then I’ll probably end up getting drunk (in the US I almost never drink…maybe once a month…here it’s a vastly different situation if I don’t watch myself) and then I’ll sleep in and I won’t want to ride. The biggest challenge has been getting into a routine. Between some unexpected repairs that set me back and plenty of days where I randomly woke up at 3:30 in the morning and had my whole day thrown off, I know I haven’t ridden as much as I wanted to. I console myself with the reminder that this is the first time I’ve done something like this, and so there’s a learning and adjustment curve. There's always next time.
4) Have A Contingency Plan
This is the first of many, many steps I’ve laid out. The next big thing this is leading up to is the cross country ride I’m going to be doing in March, 2019. And before that, there’s going to be some rides I’m going to organize in the DC area. Without those next steps, I’d have no sense of direction and I think the commitment wouldn’t be where it is. And of course, without those next steps to look forward to, I’d probably never be coming back to the US. These next steps actually make me look forward to coming back (despite how much I’m absolutely going to hate leaving).
I don’t know how to end this blog. Here’s a picture of a beautiful sunset.