This morning I was having internet issues at home - no connection. When you run your own online marketing company internet is sort of important... no internet, no work. I realized however that it was Tuesday, and as such it wasn't a problem because Tuesday is "Work Remotely Tuesday!" So I packed up my stuff, headed out the front door and soon thereafter found myself working beside a lovely fountain overlooking the ocean from the lobby of a hotel on Kaanapali, drinking a delicious espresso as I borrowed some of the wifi they so generously provide.
It'd be hard to say what I love best about working for myself - but mornings like those are high on the list. I am working... but I am doing so barefoot, with a warm Hawaiian breeze blowing the smell of plumeria flowers and salt air into my virtual office. Yesterday I took off mid-day and continued my work in the evening. Having that sort of control over how my week unfolds is vital as the workweek is really just the waking hours of your real life.
When I first started my career, things were a lot different. My first job out of college was working for IT-MIS (Information Technology Management Information Services). As the name suggests, this wasn't exactly a hip internet marketing company. This was a rather stale office environment: ultraviolet lights, windowless rooms and a dress code. A few weeks after working there I was reprimanded for wearing shorts to work, the irony of the moment being completely missed by my boss Joy who was wearing a short skirt as she explained the importance of pants in a work environment. After a few months, it became genuinely difficult to get up and go to work every morning – I felt every minute of the work day and longed to escape. When I explained I was quitting to move to Oregon, they threw me a going-away party in one of the windowless meetings rooms with a group of people I barely knew. The look of genuine fear on the faces of my colleagues as I explained I had no job lined up in Oregon was palpable... but my fear at the time was staying in a place like that. They feared change, I feared repetition. They feared the unknown, I feared predictability. I headed out west, found little to no work, struggled to make ends meet, lost my girlfriend, got evicted from an apartment for late rent, worked for a handful of failed start-ups, and was never happier in my life.
Change, as they say, is the only constant in life. Most folks fear change – they prefer the known to the unknown. Even an unpleasant known is superior to a potentially positive unknown for many. As such - they define how life "is" and then find themselves frustrated each time they discover it is not or no longer that way. This separation between how we think life will be and how we experience it, is where all our frustrations spring from. Meditation guru Thom Knoles puts it beautifully – "Suffering is proportional to our resistance to change, and happiness is proportional to ability to embrace change."
One reason we have such a resistance to change is that our mind finds it far easier to accept what might go wrong, than accept what might go right. And so we can stack the negative "what ifs" against the potential upside, and often find our confidence lacking to move forward. Yet ironically, when we do take the steps forward to make a change, we almost always find that it was for the best. I call this the "re-arranging the furniture" phenomenon. Have you ever re-arranged the furniture in a room and not thought it was better afterwards? Recently I switched around my living room and the moment it was done I declared - "this is so much better". Was it... perhaps... but honestly, how can a couch's placement in the room be better or worse? It's the change that is better - and to Knoles point - our ability to embrace the change that makes us feel good.
Part of why I like "Work Remotely Tuesday" is that it injects a nice dose of unpredictability into my work routine. I typically find a coffeeshop or hotel lobby here on Maui and hope that they have wifi so I can connect to the internet. By not having a particular spot in mind, you open yourself to limitless potential rather than a 50/50 shot or worse of getting a seat at the location you wanted. I enjoy meandering through the various hotels that line the shores of Kaanapali to find unique little work-stations and often in these walks discover all sorts of new things I hadn't previously seen. By injecting a bit of the unknown into our routine, we invite opportunities and new discoveries to enter into our life.
After a morning work session I decided to walk back home. Along the way I discovered a new food cart with delicious tacos I couldn't help but indulge in. If the change of scenery isn't a good enough reason to mix up your routine, certainly discovering new delicious tacos is!
Folks spend far too much time doing things they don't enjoy in places they'd rather not be. We then call those jobs and act as if it wasn't our choice in the first place to be there. As if having a job – any job – is just a painful necessity of life. Now obviously we need money and that money typically has to be earned – but the notion that the only way to earn it is by giving up the majority of your life to something you'd rather not be doing is a complete falsehood. It's the fear of change that keeps folks married to these jobs. It's scary to try and improve ones life - its hard work to learn new things and get out of your comfort zone. It takes confidence and a little bit of courage to leave a job you dislike for the unpredictability of creating your own future. But in the end, what else are you here for? To work? To earn a paycheck? Do you really believe that reality was formed and you were given this amazing experience of life just so that you could work a job you dislike or maintain a lifestyle that doesn't inspire you? And even if your life is grand – even if your job is fulfilling – is there nothing more to see? Aren't you curious what might happen if you worked remotely next Tuesday?
Break from your routines and try new things. Create situations that you have no pre-conceived thoughts or plans regarding... and enjoy the pleasure of watching life unfold before you. Plans only reinforce the illusion that you have control – random chance allows you to realize you wouldn't want control even if you had it. Re-arrange the furniture of your existence and stand back to marvel at the improvements that reveal themselves. Finding pleasure in these small uncertainties will only help you learn to accept and find the beauty in the larger changes life throws at you.
Life is change... it is the very nature of reality. Now you see it, now you don't. Holding on to memories of the past is as futile as the child defending their sandcastle on the beach. It doesn't matter how hard you try... change will come. Embrace it – celebrate it – and know that it brings with it the unlimited potential that is life.
"There is no chaos in the world, except the chaos which your mind creates. It is self-created in the sense that at it’s very center is the false idea of oneself as a thing separate from other things. In reality you are not a thing, nor are you separate. You are the infinite potentiality, the inexhaustible possibility. Because you are, all can be. The universe is but a partial manifestation of your limitless capacity to become."
- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj