What Was, What Is

Concept!” LongTallGabe* said, lifting his beer to his lips for a brief second. “Torn between missing old friends but not the work environment from which you came.” He cupped his hand and waved it across the front of my face, as if framing the title to a newspaper headline.

Night out in LondonOn a Friday night, at a small pub in Picadilly, I met up with LongTallGabe and CunningArt* – two executives of the corporation that held my attention the longest when living in Calgary. Though I didn’t work directly for either of them, we bonded over the usual office nonsense and several crazy Stampede parties.

Luck would find us all in London at the same time, and plans were made. Over Indian curry and bad British beer, I filled them in on the latest in my adventures and they filled me in on the latest office gossip.

They asked plenty of questions, CunningArt was curious about the size of my backpack, and how I felt living only off of the contents inside. I admitted that this way of life feels entirely normal and unremarkable to me now, that my old ways seem so foreign and are somewhat forgotten.

I asked if they were going back to work immediately the day after returning home. LongTallGabe said that they hadn’t entirely been away, gesturing to the mobile offices scattered on the table before us. But yes, they would be back to work downtown the following morning. He caught the wide smile I absentmindedly displayed while he answered, and he called me out on it. “You’re smiling because you don’t have to, right?” I couldn’t disagree.

Admittedly however, there was a small, tiny part of me that missed my corporate existance. I missed my friends, the camraderie of my “work family”. I also used to thrive on the stress – reaching for the large carrot that constantly dangled in front of me, each potential promotion or bonus was a new challenge to overcome. My best efforts were required, my skills were necessary to complete projects. I was needed by someone, for something. The farther I progressed, the bigger the carrot got.

And I gave it all up for a life of unemployed homelessness.Β My work, this blog, may be needed by no one, for nothing. But I can guarantee that it gets more effort from me than anything I have ever attempted before.

It doesn’t pay all the bills – the trade-off between past work and present freedom is that the carrot is not near the size it once was. Instead, I’m blessed with plenty of tiny ones, but I know now that those are the sweetest. And just like Mom said they would, they have improved my sight and sharpened my focus.

On the tube home later that night, I saw tired men and women slumped in their seats, their heads propped up against the glass partition between cars. The tie was still tight around the neck, the high heel shoes still pinched. A briefcase on a lap was overflowing with paperwork.

Pete was waiting up in bed when I returned. Our worldly possessions were scattered across the floor in a state of half-packed disarray. A plane to Croatia was waiting for us in just a few days.

* Aliases have been chosen by the executives to protect their (highly questionable) innocence.

 

34 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • November 14 2011

    I love seeing old friends on the road. In London I stayed with people I worked with in Toronto and it was just nice to see familiar faces.
    ayngelina recently posted..Petra by Night

    • November 15 2011

      That is always a pleasant surprise when on the road. I will even admit (not directly to their faces), that I kinda missed them. πŸ™‚

  • November 14 2011

    Meeting old friends (or even new ones) abroad is always nice. But it sounds like this particular meeting reaffirmed for you that you’ve made the right decision in regards to the direction your life has taken. It takes guts to quit everything and devote yourself to a life of “unemployed homelessness,” as you put it. But, judging from how passionate you are about it, I’d say it was definitely the right choice for you!
    Amanda recently posted..Photo of the Day: Lyall Bay, Wellington

    • November 15 2011

      Thanks Amanda – I know without a question – that we absolutely made the right choice for us. I can’t even imagine that sort of work anymore!

  • Mom
    November 14 2011

    Oh yes Sweety, your blog is needed….by me especially !!!!!
    It’s a small,small world after all.

    • November 15 2011

      Aw, thanks Mom! That’s what keeps me going… xo

  • November 14 2011

    One of my best nights ever traveling was seeing my friends Mark & Sue, who I had met a few years earlier on a bus tour in Europe, in their hometown of Melbourne.

    • November 15 2011

      Meeting old friends on the road can be completely surreal, and is always a treat. πŸ™‚

  • November 15 2011

    It’s a fascinating thing to meet up with people on the road from your past life. It always puts things in perspective. And, makes you grateful for everything you have πŸ™‚
    dtravelsround recently posted..A brief education: the dark side of the elephant tourism industry

    • November 15 2011

      Absolutely! It was so great to see them, but for me (I wrote most of the blog post on the tube that night), it really also served as a great reminder for me. πŸ™‚

  • November 15 2011

    I’ve found that the carrot is different, but is not necessarily smaller. When you factor in the enormous opportunity costs incurred to chase after promotions and bonuses, the net benefit from those things shrinks dramatically.

    There is no carrot in the world large enough to get me to go back to my old life. I realize daily rewards now the old me could only dream about.
    Brian recently posted..How to Become a Global Citizen

    • November 15 2011

      You and me both, Brian. πŸ™‚ The carrot(s) are of vastly different shapes and sizes now then what it used to be, and I’m so appreciative for that! πŸ™‚

  • November 15 2011

    At least once a week Kali and I ask each other “How great is it that we’re not sitting in an office right now?”

    We still work a ton, but it’s on our terms and on our projects. We wake up every morning without an alarm clock, read news over breakfast, and spend the day in our pajamas working… until mid-afternoon, when we break for a leisurely lunch and usually watch an episode of our favorite show before heading back to the computers again.

    Everything about an office life – the clothes, the timelines, the bosses – just seems so damn restrictive. We’re much happier working on our own terms. πŸ™‚

    • November 15 2011

      You’re preachin’ to the choir, sista! Pete and I say very often how much we love our life, which I can’t remember saying once, EVER, before. I don’t care if I work 12 hour days…it’s for US…and probably in a brand new, inspiring locale! Wouldn’t give it up for anything. πŸ™‚

  • November 15 2011

    Your mother is very wise. “…they have improved my sight and sharpened my focus.” Brilliantly stated!
    Maria recently posted..When a Stranger Calls

    • November 15 2011

      Yeah, she’s got a few gems to share. πŸ™‚

  • November 15 2011

    It’s so exciting and almost surreal when you run into old friends while traveling, but at the same time, it feels exactly right πŸ™‚
    Emily Sims recently posted..5 Lessons Learned from Leaping to Spain

    • November 15 2011

      Absolutely Emily, well said. It was great to see them, for SO many reasons… πŸ™‚

  • November 15 2011

    I don’t like catching up with people from my past. There are always awkward silences.

    • November 17 2011

      Oh yeah, I’ve had my share of those too. Especially when people ask: “So, how was your trip?” Haha…

  • November 15 2011

    These kinds of encounters really shows how far you’ve come in your life and that it appears you’re making the right decision to follow your passion.
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..Tram at Night | Hong Kong, China | Travel Photo

    • November 17 2011

      Leaving the corporate life to travel was definitely they best decision we ever made!

  • November 15 2011

    I think you no doubt made the right choice! And I’ve certainly loved following your adventures.

  • November 16 2011

    Isn’t it much better growing your own carrots than having them dangled in front of you? I miss the people from my old job, but certainly not the politics or drudgery.
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Tickle Me Happy

    • November 17 2011

      “Growing my own carrots” – I like that. πŸ™‚

  • Abby
    November 15 2011

    I love blasts from the pasts — it shows you how far you’ve come. Sometimes I see someone I used to work with and think that to me, I knew them a lifetime ago. But they’re still doing the same thing!

  • November 16 2011

    Like the use of the carrot metaphor πŸ™‚
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..My Biggest Fear: Dental Work in the Third World

  • November 17 2011

    Its so good to see people you know when you are on the road, I once bumped into a guy I went to collage with in Hong Kong
    James Cook recently posted..Midweek Snapshot – New Zealand – December 2010

  • November 18 2011

    I love catching up with old friends. I was in London a few months ago where I caught up with old flatmates from 5 years ago. Somehow I found myself jealous that nothing had changed for them. Go figure!

  • I wish I didn’t have to work! Instead today was filled with looking for jobs in sweltering hot Brisbane… and thats also the plan for tomorrow! booooo!

  • November 21 2011

    I miss the corporate world sometimes too… but I know if I was back there, after a week I would want to leave again. And you’re right, small successes in your own business taste so much sweeter!
    Hogga recently posted..Awesome Events in London 2012

    • November 22 2011

      I’m not sure that I would even make a week back in that environment!

  • November 26 2011

    The only time I miss the corporate world is when I see cute clothes that are definitely work appropiate and I realize that I have no where to wear them. Instead, I’m buying hiking boots and crazy five fnger shoes!!

    in all seriousness though, I do miss the interactions and frienships with coworkers. I love my blog and all the friends I’ve made online, but it doesn’t quite stack up to eating lunch in person or coming up with a really cool idea as a group!
    jade recently posted..Reconsidering Life After a Plane Ride from Hell

    • November 26 2011

      Yes! The cute clothes and lunches! That is exactly what I miss most at times too. Although not the high heels! πŸ™‚

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

css.php