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life style design – or redesign?

February 1, 2010

Long before Tim Ferris ( and his gang of happy followers started writing about their escapades and escapes- there were legions of us quietly, unconsciously, just doing our thing- all over the world. Maybe it was part of my genetics as my mom and dad, in the 60’s were part of the first wave of globalizers who ditched suburbia and the 9 – 5 lifestyle by moving overseas- a downright revolutionary concept at the time.  In their case, two weeks after getting married they were living in a bustling neighborhood in Latin America with nothing but a small single engine airplane, a Doberman pinscher called ‘Uncle Sam’, and the promise of a job for my dad involving island hopping with his plane selling…. salt to the locals.

Jump ahead 25 years or so, and it doesn’t seem surprising that immediately upon graduating from university I packed a bag, found a home for my horse, and moved to Spain without a concern in the world. I lived there happily, working under the table for the Spanish Military (the irony of working illegally for the Spanish government was lost on me until years later).

That was 1992, and I imagine Tim Ferris must have been running his own version of  a lemonade stand at the time, some sort of neighborhood franchise I suspect . I say this with reverence and respect for someone who seems to have taken an old idea, (escaping the 9 – 5 grind, freedom, mobility, a life of adventure and interest) added a few flourishes and probably some improvements, named it, packaged it, marketed it, and sold it to the masses, freeing himself to make money work for him, and starting nothing less than a social movement in the process!

After Spain, there was living in Slovakia, followed by law school, a couple spells in London, Africa, Asia…. the list of places and adventures gets lost as time goes by, and life and responsibilities take their place in the memory fields of my brain.

But what about now? Here I am, a lawyer living in a small mid-western town for the past 8 years. Property owner, responsible for two cats and a horse, people rely on me, things demand my attention, family wants me around, parents want grandchildren, my 401K sends reminders each month that one day I’ll be OLD, the daily routine fills me with a sense of being busy- between clients, being a volunteer, working out, riding my horse, maintaining friendships, spending time with family, caring for my properties, and all the details of running a life- its easy enough to ignore the sense of dis-ease that has crept intothe daily practice of living. Don’t get me wrong – I love my job, I love my friends, I love my horse, I love my family. It’s all very good, very safe, and very secure. And perhaps therein lies the conundrum.

Sometimes I miss the life I had. Sure it involved a few stresses- out smarting customs isn’t as exciting as it sounds after a while- but there was something life affirming and exhilarating about a state of mind that allowed me to pick up and follow my heart on a whim. Move to Spain? Sure! Hitch hike to Paris? Hell yes! Fight off baboons during a trip down the Orange River where days earlier we’d lost all our fresh water supplies? Whatever it takes! Party with George Clooney at Charlie’s Pub in Bratislava… again? Well, that really was a no brainer.

2010 brings with it a few new missions, and an over-riding sense of purpose. This is a year of transformation or at least of waking up, the year I give my all to have it all. Somewhere between my former life of nomadic world wandering and my current life of self-imposed, playing it safe, mid-western groundedness (quirky, funny, and wonderfully odd as that is) lies the perfect lifestyle re-design. I don’t have worked out all the hows or the whats. I just know that a big part of the answer is YES.

If you had full creative license to have your dream life, what would you do? Maybe you’ve already figured it out and can share some inspiration. Whatever your thoughts, please write and let me know!