the dollar vigilante blog
Finding A Life From Which You Don't Need To Escape
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[Editor’s Note: The following post is by Jim Karger, TDV legal correspondent]
I arrived for my first day of work at 7:00am on August 9, 1976.
By 5:00pm the same day I knew that I had made a serious vocational error.
Yet, I spent the next 25 years of my life doing it anyway.
At 49, burned out, tired, out of shape, I quit practicing law and moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. People called me crazy for giving up a very lucrative law practice at the peak of my earning years. They were right, but for the wrong reason.
The crazy part was showing up for work on August 10, 1976. But, like so many others, I had plenty of excuses for being there. "You just spent 19 years of formal education to get you here," I told myself, "it would be crazy to waste it. Besides, you have a wife who depends on you. What are you going to do? Tell her all those years were wasted?"
And so I didn't. I kept at it, pulling the plow, counting the days until my next vacation, when I could escape the grind, the relentless conflict, and unhappiness.
The first real vacation I took was one year to the day after I went to work. My ex-wife and I flew to Acapulco, Mexico for a week. We spent 3 days on the bay and 4 days at the then almost-new Acapulco Princess outside the City on the ocean. I remember it vividly, the sea air, laying around the pool most of the day, the Coco-Locos, reading books I enjoyed, playing golf and tennis, thinking to myself how I would love to live like that—everyday.
On reflection, that was a fantasy. One cannot live on vacation, if only because vacation denotes something different than one's day-to-day life. If you spend enough time doing anything, it becomes not vacation, but life. It seems our blessing and curse as humans is the rapid process of habituation. I know. At 49, I tried it. After a month or so, I ended up sunburned, hungover, and looking for something to do.
Yet, that realization, while important, was not the epiphany.
The important lesson for me was that while life can never be a permanent vacation, for the same reason nothing else can be permanent, it doesn't have to be spent grinding out one day after another doing something you find other than exciting and meaningful. The difficult task is not in learning to do something well, but in discovering what that something is. It may not even be one thing, but a collection of avocations that that bring one into the present, neither lamenting the past or fearing the future. For my wife it was to help homeless dogs here, of which there are many. It is her passion and to watch her fulfilling it is a joy. For me, it has been making a positive difference for employees in the American workplace through my writing and speaking.
Fast forward 35 years: We just returned from Acapulco last night where I spent some time with Jeff, Gary, James, and some of the TDV team, an amazing group fulfilling their own desires for freedom and their passion to help others do the same.
After our meetings, my wife and I spent a few days at the Acapulco Princess, now celebrating its 40th year, and still every bit as beautiful and as enjoyable except without the regret of leaving, without the anger of returning to a place and a vocation that did not contribute to happiness. Rather, this trip was another in a long line of experiences that I value and appreciate.
Life need not be a series of 50 week periods of misery punctuated by a couple of weeks of respite from work. But that sad eventuality is best avoided not by doing what you hate until you simply can't do it anymore, but by taking the time to discover your passion, what you want to contribute, what you want to change, what you want to build, finding the best place in the world to do it, and then making the leap of faith.
Now back In San Miguel de Allende, I look forward to what tomorrow will bring.
Your itinerant TDV editor is continuing his US tour, vigilantes. Jeff couldn't stand more than a couple of days in the USSA, but I'm still kind of sweet on the place. Sure the government is absolutely unbearable and many of the people are a bunch of easily led statist sheep...but it is so nice to have all the comfortable surroundings I am used to… plus many more people speak the same language as me here than in Acapulco.
Today I'll be leaving heading back to Minneapolis for a spell. I developed quite the crush on San Diego in my short time here, however. I’ve even given some thought to doing a monthly foray from Acapulco direct to Tijuana and skipping across the border every month or so to enjoy the things I am used to. But, we’ll see how I feel about that as time goes on. Every time the US Government arrests an anarchist for a Facebook post my toes curl just a little bit more.
I'd be risking government theft, kidnapping and extortion by living within easy reach of the greediest, most dangerous, violence-prone government in the world. Where's the sense in that? In fact Justin, the TDV crew member with whom I stayed in San Diego, is himself planning to join me in fleeing to Acapulco. He asked me what it would be like for him down there. I told him that the living is relatively cheap and incredibly easy.
Jeff had set me up in one of his condo suites. The wall facing the balcony was made entirely of glass. I woke up every day to the sight of the Pacific and every night I went to sleep to the sound of the waves hitting the rocks 15 stories below. I would like to say that my days were spent lounging on the beach, but I'm married to my laptop and so my days were usually spent someplace I could use the laptop comfortably and for long periods of time. That could mean lounging in my very comfortable condo with its marvelous view...Or it could mean relaxing in one of my favorite local bars or restaurants. I'd order food and drinks for about half or less what they cost in the US and make the occasional bits of small talk with the always extremely friendly staff in my limited Spanish.
It's great to have a vocation that allows you to live where you want and spend your day where you want. In bed and glancing occasionally at the ocean...in a nice restaurant and sampling very affordable and tasty dishes all day long...or in a bar along the beach, enjoying the view and getting ever so slowly drunk, which can be a great boon when your livelihood depends on getting flashes of inspiration...
Heck, just writing about it now has me wanting to skip my trip to Minneapolis and head straight back! If you want to see for yourself how easy and fun living can be, book a stay at one of the condos in Acapulco.
And don't forget...you can get even more information about Acapulco, as well as San Miguel and other cities around the world directly from the people who live there. Subscribers to the paid TDV newsletter get access to our new TDV Group forums where they can interact with other TDV newsletter subscribers from around the world. They can even assist you in finding temporary lodging for a visit...or more permanent lodging if you wish to move there.
If you enjoy this blog, then you'll enjoy the TDV newsletter even more! To get started and to see what membership has in store for you, just click here.
I hope to see you as a TDV Newsletter subscriber in our new forums... and I hope to see some of you vigilantes in Acapulco soon!
Editor, The Dollar Vigilante
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