From elementary school, to middle school, to high school, to college, most of my life was and is scheduled. Growing up in Miami, Fl, the suburban sprawl made travelling to every destination a 5 to 10 miles walking expedition. This, combined with my lack of a bicycle until 3 years ago, meant I spent most of my childhood and adolescence in school and, after school, living vicariously through action and adventure video games–games like Fallout and Oblivion. It was these escapes that sated my urge for meaning, exploration, risk, and excitement; factors that were otherwise unmet in my more regimented life.
Right before high school, however, I began reading more books–well, I began reading books–on personal liberty and personal responsibility for creating a life I’d want to live. Against the well-intentioned caution of my parents, I bought a bicycle through Craigslist, and experienced an introductory taste of choosing how I spent my time. Even if most of it still was spent doing schoolwork, now I could road cycle to local parks, getting lost in hours at a time; or cycle to the library on my own; or doing whatever else I thought was worthwhile.
Now, during summer break after my second year of college, I am truly beginning to realize what it means to create my own life. During the weekdays, I tend to spend my time working at a local library, earning capital to invest toward financial independence, while learning from audio-books like Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, podcasts like Radical Personal Finance, and books like Good Boat-keeping. During the evenings after work, I’ve reached out to a local church gardener for gardening experience, spent time with community-building enthused community member Gabor Lukacs, walked through nature trails, swam in local ponds and rivers, cooked home-made vegan dinners, watched documentaries like Without Bound – Perspective on Mobile [van] Living, and more. During weekends, I tend to spend my time cycling to and building a net-zero Habitat for Humanity home about 12 mi one-way, and I’ve found weekend bicycle touring and herb first aid walks through Meet-ups.com.
Unlike the compulsory education I grew up with–and sometimes still feel like I experience in college–my time is taken up by activities I’ve deliberately chosen to do because they add maximum value to my life, whether through skills, capital, social connection, or spending time in nature. Although I don’t think I’d continue working at my job at the library if I were financially independent–the opportunity cost with other long-term adventures is simply too great–it is reassuring that I am able to create my own life.
I sometimes fear that I’d be bored if I didn’t have school or work to keep my life active, but I think the older I get, the more I realize that I really can create my own life; a adventure-full, nature-full, love-full, learning-full, and ultimately satisfying life. This is a powerful realization. I’d like to create a life where I can’t imagine myself spending it any other way. Or, if I do imagine something I”d prefer doing, where I can then do that, too.
Creating the freedom to choose how to spend one’s life, and fostering the confidence and wisdom to act on those urges, are two incredibly important concepts for creating the life one wants to live.At the moment, some of the more long-term activities I’d like to undertake include cycling across the US, thru hiking the Appalachian or Pacific Crest trail, sailing across the world, driving a small RV through the Americas, continuing to learn about personal connection and being a part of open relationships, continuing to learn more and more skills, learning more philosophical ideas and potential lifestyles, and more.
Is there anything you’d particularly like to do with your life? What is it? Why? How can you get to it?