Sunday, February 27, 2011

What ties me down?

The Chief Feline Officer is not pleased about suitcases. She generally prefers that I stay home with her all of the time. I prefer to stay with her most of the time too. If I were ever to take some kind of extended TDY work, a non-negotiable condition would be that CFO goes with me. This particular kitty is kitty #4 in my life. She is 17 years old, doing well, but still is an elderly kitty. Soon after her time has passed, there will be kitty #5 in my life, perhaps even 5 & 6. When I decided to let cats into my life, nearly 35 years ago, I accepted the responsibility of being tied down. I don't feel burdened because that term has a connotation to me of doing something against my will. I joyously welcomed animals into my life and haven't looked back.

Perhaps I am tied down by my age. I am not planning on quitting my "corporate" work in favor of a sabbatical, a trip around the world, extended backpacking, reinventing myself. I am planning on traditional retirement. I will be able to do that in just a few years. So I am tied down right now by my need to continue to capitalize my retirement fund which I am doing. It's the same as saving up for that sabbatical, I think.

Perhaps I am tied down by my health. I really do want the assurance of having a good health insurance policy. Right now I don't make much use of it .... 1-2 doctor visits a year, some routine screening tests that so far are all negative, one simple, cheap medication. But sooner or later something will come up so that I need the insurance. I prefer not to be bankrupt by health care costs. So I'm tied down to my corporate job in order that I can keep my affordable health insurance. That's just the way it works in the US.

Perhaps I am tied down by my attachments. I am attached, I know, to the concepts of safety and comfort. I really prefer to have both in my life, and do not care to put myself into situations where they are absent or could easily be absent. This translates into behaviors such as ... paying enough rent so that I feel very safe in my apartment as opposed to paying a lot less, but having a lot of worries about safety ... not wanting to do camping when I travel .... not wanting to stay in hostels when I travel .... not wanting to stay in really cheap hotels when I travel ... not wanting to travel via backpacking or hitchhiking or buses in less developed countries .... wanting to have comfortable furnishings where I live, especially my bed. I also don't particularly want to travel to many places in the world. I know every place is fascinating and that I could learn so much by putting myself way outside my comfort zone, especially in less developed places or potentially dangerous places (Pakistan, anybody? How about Burma? I hear there are great Buddhist sites there.)  The truth is, I don't want to do that. And I don't need to do that. It's not a requirement that I do that. So I don't.

Perhaps I'm tied down by my sense of responsibility. I like my work, my work place and my co-workers.  Everybody treats me well at work, and all the indications I have from them is that they prefer I stick around for the indefinite future.  I feel a lot of gratitude for this right livelihood that I have and want to do well by my clients and my co-workers. I don't want to just pack up and leave them any time soon. When I do decide to leave this workplace, I intend to give them plenty of notice. I want to fulfill my responsibilities towards that place and those people and do it happily. I'm not just working for the paycheck and the insurance.

Perhaps I am tied down by this concept called "home." I like the idea that I have a home someplace in the world. It's where the cat is, it's where they have to take me in, it's where I feel safe, it's where I prefer to spend a lot of my time, it's someplace that I love. I'm fine about having that attachment too.

Perhaps I am tied down by my community. I have grown a community around me over the years. The people come for a variety of places and sources. I like living amongst them. I don't want to be packing up and leaving them anytime soon. Instead I want to continue to make the community larger.

Perhaps I am tied down by my stuff. Well, perhaps. I have decided that because I am staying put and making a home in a place, I prefer that my home be characterized by being safe, convenient, comfortable and beautiful. That means I have acquired and maintain a fair amount of stuff ... not a huge amount, but more than minimal for sure.

Do I feel burdened or tied down by this stuff that I have? No, I don't. I would just as soon have it right now, but if that overdue earthquake happens, and if the CFO and I both survive, I will be all right about losing all my stuff. Of course I will regret losing a few things, mostly art and family associated things. But I would get over the loss quickly and then figure out what to do next. Maybe take the insurance money and set off on that trip around the world with a backpack. Maybe create that minimal Swedish style place I so admire. Who knows? I'm sure I would regard the event as an opportunity to start fresh rather than a loss to regret.

So, for now, I am staying put where I am, doing what I have been doing for awhile longer. I'm keeping the stuff that I have because it suits me to continue to do that. I don't feel tied down at all. I feel like this is what I have chosen freely. Nothing and everything ties me down.

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