Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Time for the Taking

        I just got a new battery for my watch today, yet the only time I need to look at my watch is to get ready for work and count the minutes until work is over. Otherwise, I don't care much for the numbers that set boundaries throughout the day. It's tyranny, according to Mr. Woodcock.
        After Eliott sent me that article, I was inspired to read "Repent Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman by Harlan Ellison. The first time I was introduced to this short story was in my English class at Hudson Valley Community College, but I didn't read it; I merely showed up for the class discussion to get my A. It turns out to actually be a very fun read! Kudos to Carlos for letting me read it to him via Skype - nothing better than onomatopoeia and made-up words animated out loud.
        Now I find myself measuring the time until I leave for Buenos Aires. Originally, the time would be approximately half a year, but sooner and sooner it became. I am now much too anxious. I'm ready to begin a new routine and stop watching the time so much. I've begun to seek opportunities where I am no longer a slave to the clock. I will work when I want to, so progress can be measured by completed projects rather than an hourly wage.
        Time is my most valuable asset. And the most important thing that I've realized is that it's here, now, for the taking. I can spend it however I wish. Oftentimes, many spend their time in ways to ensure they continue to have time, even if that means they must make sacrifices, by spending the time in a way that they normally wouldn't have, like getting a college degree, to ensure a steady job with good pay that will keep them well-fed, sheltered, and healthy (although one can and will argue that this isn't the case nowadays).

        I think an important lesson can be learned through "The Parable of the Mexican Fisher and the Investment Banker," which my older brother kindly shared with me today. It goes something like this:

An American investment banker was taking a much-needed vacation in a small, coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. The boat had several large, fresh fish in it.

The investment banker was impressed by the quality of the fish and asked the Mexican how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, "Only a little while."

The banker then asked, "Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican fisherman replied, "I have enough to support my family's immediate needs."

The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman replied, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a full and busy life, señor."

The investment banker scoffed, "I am an Ivy League MBA, and I could help you. You could spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats until eventually you would have a whole fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to the middleman, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You could control the product, processing and distribution."

Then he added, "Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City where you would run your growing enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But señor, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."

"But what then?" asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You could make millions."

"Millions, señor? Then what?"

To which the investment banker replied, "Then you would retire. You could move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

        This, señor(a), is why I walk to work. So much hustle and bustle around me as people drive their cars all over in order to keep to their tight schedules, in order to achieve more than their families' immediate needs. But not me. I, señor(a), take my time. I literally stop to smell the roses and, sometimes, pick them for my friends. I then make enough money to enjoy a minimalist lifestyle, full of novelty and love. A cliché, but one I have much belief in - the best things in life are free.
        I prefer to enjoy the time I have now. Planning is necessary in order to continue the delight, but I don't let it stress me out too much; it's not my main focus. I've come to understand how little I can have and still be happy, as well as the notion that anything can happen to end my time. I've come to terms with death. It will happen, and I have no idea when. Therefore, it makes more sense (to me) to labor a little here and there to enjoy the fruits regularly, rather than work wearily from seed to factory farm, to then, at the end, rest and enjoy the little time left in my life.
        I once had a professor tell me that most waste their youth, but surely not me. I have the health, the energy, and the lust for life NOW and I can't waste another minute *trying* to make something that's already wonderful somehow better. I have sorrow for those always looking for something more or, worse, those who do not understand the reasoning behind why they continue to sustain themselves.
        I hope this inspires you to lay in the grass and watch the clouds pass by tomorrow.


  1. Yeah... Eckhart Tolle and others say the key to fulfillment is in accepting the present moment, not hankering after a future moment that supposedly will bring you fulfillment.. They say all that we need for ultimate fulfillment is within us, now, as the source of our being is one with all that is and in diving into that awareness of oneness we loose the sense of a separate self needing something outside of it to be fulfilled.

  2. That's a great parable - one of my parents forwarded it to me once... reminds me of the voluntary simplicity movement. My brother and his wife are looking into living on a yacht..seems like a great way to enable more of that time to enjoy life that you mention..maybe I will follow my brother and end up living on a yacht. So much of our of energy is spent on the cost for shelter (rent etc.).. I'm also impressed by the superadobe homes - dirt cheap (pun intended :P), and I think can be quite aesthetic.

  3. Recommendation: stop wearing a watch. You, like that fisherman, already know the time.

    Nice blog you have here! Thanks for sharing your unschooled adventure.

    Happy trails to you.

  4. Erica,

    Fist off, kudos to you and the path you've decided to take in life -- couldn't be a bigger supporter. Your commencement speech was filled with reasons why/how the education system is failing our nation. It's sad. But with people like you, there's hope for change. Please don't stop doing what you do.

    If you have a moment, I encourage you to check out www.BookDecay.com -- we're working to empower students to avoid passively accepting that textbooks are "required" and encourage them to think critically to determine what will provide them the best education. I'd love to hear your thoughts on what we're doing. It's time for students to take control.


  5. Hi Erica, it's Luke. Whenever you like, I recommend you pick up "Psychotherapy East and West" by Alan Watts. The book describes just how deep the rabbit hole goes with regard to collectively-held illusions, speaking from the perspective of western psychotherapy and eastern psychological training regimens like buddhism. It's also just really well-written and enjoyable to read.

    Also check out "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Heinlein for an excellent example of a sci-fi writer's imagination with regard to cultural assumptions and what a homo sapien might look like outside of those assumptions.

    And finally, check out this post from my blog, which introduces a technique that is indispensable to any intellectual worth her snuff: http://utopianamerica.blogspot.com/2009/08/basic-meditation-instructions.html

  6. and why oh why do you use that horrible font for your comments?

  7. Hey Erica! Just checking in! Looks like you're doing well. Ignore your detractors. Life is its own miracle.

    Keep us posted! Thanks!

  8. I love this font! It's like writing in a notebook.

  9. "And then one day you'll find ten years have got behind you"

  10. I love that you are embracing life NOW. I want nothing more for my children than to have them be HAPPY. Now AND in the future. Which means focusing on NOW, and not always planning. When people ask me about homeschooling and how do I "know" if my kids are learning "enough" I can't quite explain to them that they are HAPPY which means they are learning "enough." I don't grade because life can't be graded.

    Your post makes me happy and I thank you for putting it out there, so that I could read it. Enjoy your walk today.

  11. I started wearing a watch again (after about 6 years of not wearing one) because I wanted to quit looking at my phone to see what time it was.

    Actually, I'm trying harder and harder to get away from the whole look-at-your-phone culture by having a very basic phone (that only supports calls and text messages). Furthermore, I'm a pretty chronic time-checker, so having the watch on instead of looking at my phone only seals the deal.

    I liked the parable. If everybody thought a bit more modestly when it came to what might satisfy them in life, the world might just be a better place.

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