The sun is finally out in Wilmington and the weather has started to warm. I am in desperate need of Vitamin D (GET THAT D!) so I decided to grab a beer and get some quality hammock time in my front yard. I couldn’t help think about how lucky I am as I stared up at the sky and gently rocked side to side. I live in a kick-ass city, have a job that I do online and I can thrive on without working full-time, my health is in solid shape, an amazing partner who is up for adventures, and friends across the globe that I can visit on on a whim.
Fuck yeah. I’m lucky.
Or am I?
The idea of luck bothers me because it isn’t luck. These things were not dropped into my lap at random. I wasn’t just in the “right place at the right time” to acquire a life I love. No, I am definitely not lucky. It is something else.
Maybe I’m blessed?
Nah, that doesn’t work either. There isn’t a magic force or entity out there rewarding be for obedience. I try to live a good life and treat others well, but I am certainly paying no allegiance to a deity (or even a philosophy).
So, while I lay in my hammock I have no idea how to express thanks. The truth is, I’m thankful for my own actions and my own decisions. There is certainly a level of privilege that came from being a white male that grew up in a family with both parents. But my family was also broke, I’ve had a job since about the age 12, and my upbringing involved a fair amount of emotional brainwashing. I was ill prepared for the real world when I joined the Army in 2001. I guess part of it is luck, but not the last 15 or so years.
But I can’t think of a word that describes “appreciation for my past actions that lead me here”. I chose not to marry the first two people I really loved because we were long-term incompatible. I chose to get a vasectomy to prevent an accidental pregnancy. I chose to quit my job (twice) and leave a stable city to travel to a new place because I wasn’t happy where I was, even though I did not have any job waiting for me in the new place. I chose to live in a city where the cost of living is a fraction of what it was in other places I’ve lived. I chose to live a fairly minimalist life. I chose not to own a car for nearly a decade.
These choices and countless others big and small led me to the point where I can sit in my hammock on a random Tuesday and drink a beer simply because I want to. Or I can spontaneously travel to another city to visit a friend on a whim. Or I can sign up to take classes in massage therapy because it interests me.
But I don’t know the word for that thankfulness and gratitude for my own choices. Whatever the word is, that is what I fell as I look up at the blue sky and lazily watch a red-tailed hawk drift around. That is what I feel when I experience the freedom that comes from making hard and risky choices because the unknown is better than unhappy mediocrity. That is the feeling that glows inside me every day as I look at my life and realize how fucking awesome it is.
Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions: pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”