Where’s Your Safety?

from my Yoga series

from my Yoga series

Bill said, “People must make time to smell the roses.”

We were talking about the stories, specifically the stories we tell that become self-made prisons. “It’s never made any sense to me!” he laughed, “I’ve never been able to work for anyone because the whole mindset seems like madness. For instance, I just talked to a man who believes he must work at his job for three more years so he might have a better retirement. He hates his job!”  He added, “I have a dear friend that sat down after a game of tennis and died of a brain aneurism. We never know, do we?” His question was actually a statement and I nodded my head in agreement. It’s never made any sense to me to give away this day of life for an idea of life in the future.

“Why do you think people do that?” he asked. Social norms. Expectations. Fear. Stability. There are many reasons. There are many good reasons. We have to feel safe. I used to tell groups that a child can’t play unless he or she feels safe. To the man holding on for retirement, trading today for a possible tomorrow makes him feel safe and a safety story is a necessity in a culture that has forgotten community. Without a tribe, people must fen for themselves and the sacrifice they make is their autonomy. It’s a paradox. It’s a story.

Bill and I tell a different story. I’m a terrible employee. I have too many ideas. I like to change things. I do my best work late at night or very early in the morning. The middle of the day, the normal working hours, are down time. Fog time. I feel safe by breaking patterns and changing rhythms. I feel safe when I don’t know what is coming. I value presence and feeling alive much more than retirement. I do not know what retirement means because my job has never been a thing that I do. To retire means to die. I’ll certainly do that someday but I see no reason to save up for it.

My story, my path is no better or worse than the man who gives up his today for tomorrow. We both create our idea of security and live from a set of assumptions that define a good life. We both make sense – we make it. Sense is not found like happiness is not found. Both ensue.

Bill looked at me and said, “Maybe asking why people give away today for tomorrow is not the right question. Maybe the right question is, ‘Do they know that they are making a choice?”

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