[This was originally published Oct. 19, 2015 on a blog I began writing to chronicle our move found here.]
You know the family next door?
Yeah… We’re not keeping up with them, don’t care to.
That’s the answer I want to give people when they look at me sideways after I tell them we sold everything, bought a camper trailer, and moved to a place with significantly lower income earning potential.
Before moving I called the Labor Hall in Orlando to inquire about work. After a bit of discussion surrounding my current pay scale and what they offered, the lady on the other end of the line said, “Can I ask you a question?” “Sure”, I replied. “Why in the hell would you want to move down here if you’re making that kind of money where you’re at?”
Fan of the Bible or no, there’s much truth to the well-known phrase “Money is the root of all kinds of evil.” It’s evident everywhere you look. Perhaps more subtly than you realize.
Why would we choose to live much more meagerly? The answer is simple really; because acquiring stuff isn’t our top priority.
In the past few weeks I’ve spent more time with my wife and children than I have in years. Literally, years. My four year old, Levi, is beginning to like me I think. That’s not a joke. He really didn’t like me much before, and I don’t blame him. When the majority of the interaction one has with someone is disciplinary that tends to happen. My wife is noticeably less stressed. Probably because she finally has some help raising, and cleaning up after, six kids.
Before the move I worked, constantly. What little time I had with my family by-and-large took place with me either in a state of physical exhaustion from the manual labor of that day, or mental obsession over the tasks ahead of me the next… and frequently it was both. Now, to be honest, part of that is just my makeup. I’m the type of person who, like my mother, has to keep busy.
Since the move, however, I’ve found new ways to stay busy. Have you ever tried to take multiple kids fishing with a soon-to-be toddler running around grabbing for poles screaming, “fishy, fishy, FISHY!” That’ll keep ya busy.
Have you ever taken six kids, including the aforementioned screamingly demanding toddler, to a Rattlesnake festival? Probably not. Well in case you ever do let me give you a bit of advice… be prepared to be busy.
Want to stay busy? Try cleaning up behind an army, seemingly expertly trained in the art of demolition, with Silas the Destroyer leading the advance. …where’s the white flag because I’m waiving it.
But… BUT… this is a good busy. It’s a different busy to be sure, but it’s good. To say it has been an adjustment for us is an understatement. However, I would still contend it has been a necessary adjustment; necessary because we, like so many, were just caught up in the rat race.
You know, the rat race: go to work… so you can pay bills and buy stuff… so you have somewhere to live… so you can rest up to go back to work… so you can pay bills and buy stuff…
I’m not naïve. Eventually, I will have to go back to work. I think about it daily.
Neither do I mistakenly think we had to move to Florida to live more frugally and take a break from the rat race. We just wanted to move to Florida, so we did.
To borrow a phrase from pop culture: Haters gonna hate. And indeed some have. I can imagine some such hater right now muttering under their breath, “Just wait ‘til the honeymoon is over and reality sets in and you have to get back into the rat race.”
Au contraire mon frère, I have to go back to work but I never have to enter back into the rat race. Never.
Go back to work I will. Doing what, I’m not quite sure yet. But when I do go back to work make no mistake about it, it won’t be to keep up with the Joneses. Rather, it will be simply to pay what bills are necessary for survival and to provide adequate opportunity for my children.
Screw the Joneses, they can acquire all the crap they want. We don’t need it.