The Open Road

I’ve been cleaning out my computer’s filing cabinet and I found this essay/entry that never saw the light of day. Until today.
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The question comes up all the time: at parties, at family functions, when you run into people you know at the post office.

“What are you up to these days?”

My answer lately? Living. (But I say it in that Matthew McConaughey circa “Dazed and Confused” way: L-I-V-I-N.)

I’ve been mostly job free (my kind term for unemployed) for the past year. In that time, I’ve volunteered in Africa, Haiti, and here in LA. I’ve road-tripped to two music festivals. I’ve spent time with friends and family I hadn’t seen in a while. I’ve written more and complained less.

In short, I’ve learned how to live.

I went from working at least 80 hours a week at two different jobs to all the free time in the world, and there is so much freedom in free time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting people quit their jobs (I’m actually trying very hard to find one), but I definitely see the difference now between living to work and working to live.

It’s a matter of how you spend your time. Time isn’t money. Time is opportunity, and we only have a finite amount of it.

Whenever I talk about things I’m doing or places I go, people always say, “I could never do that.” The thing is: you could. It’s making the choice.

The other day I was in my car on the highway when U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” came on. All of the sudden I felt a rush. Like I could – and should – keep driving. As if at the end of the journey I would find that thing. That thing I didn’t even know I was looking for.

The song ended and I snapped back to reality in time to take the exit I was supposed to take. Part of me was disappointed I hadn’t kept going. Where would the road take me? Where would I eventually stop? Why don’t I have an emergency overnight bag waiting in my car for these kind of spontaneous adventures?

I love the open road, the feeling of not having to be anywhere other than where I am. I love the option to take a scenic route or stop for a random roadside attraction. Those are all metaphors for life, right?

There are choices we make in how we spend our time or in what detours we afford ourselves, and I’m by no means an expert. I do what works best for me, at this moment.

I get it. We all have bills. Maybe you have a husband and/or kids depending on you as well. It’s important to provide, and work (money) is a necessity. I’m suggesting you take advantage of the time you do have.

A common misconception about me – I think – is that maybe I’m not doing enough to find a job. A friend put it best: I post these things on my blog or on Facebook about where I am or what I’m doing and it all seems so fantastic. People can misconstrue that as a lack of effort, when what it really is me taking advantage of the time I’ve been given in lieu of waiting for something to happen.

So find your open road. Go. See. Do. Get scared. Get lost. Find your way back and do it again.

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One Response to The Open Road

  1. Dad says:

    Great post, Mary Anne. Thanks!! Love Ya!!!!!!!!! Dad

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