Slave to the Grind

I’ve shared my own story already, so I’ll try no to re-tread there too much. It’s taken me awhile to get to this topic for the very reason that I did share my story and I’m hard pressed to come up with a lot to add but I’d like some conversation with others who have tried taking another path.

In some dusty book during my college years, we read that our free time has actually gone down in modern times. We picture hunter gatherer groups as constantly looking for their next meal and basically always living on the brink. And that’s certainly the case if the environment is harsh (either as a matter of course or because of some calamity). The truth was that when we looked at the few examples of such groups living today, they had more free time than we do. Amazing stuff, eh? I’m not saying I would want to trade places per se and live on the ragged edge. Although there are times that I think that thrill is why I left my job. Hmm…

Quitting Time - Photo Courtesy Library of Congress
Quitting Time – Photo Courtesy Library of Congress

Manual labor has always been back-breaking. There’s no doubt about it, but we seem to have translated that same back-breaking mentality to jobs today that are honestly much easier even if they aren’t challenging. We’ve made them emotionally draining and time intensive in the ethos that work should be hard.

However, it seems like maybe we’re moving towards redefining work, maybe a renaissance of thought in some way. How many articles can you find about people who are inspring because they’ve found a unique way of living? There are a lot of blogs out there by people who are trying to find a way to provide that doesn’t involve punching the clock. It becomes a question of whether you live to work or work to live. Our society, especially in America, is built around the idea that work is to be admired and play is allowed in moderation but more than that is clearly hedonistic. Everyone may not be looking to leave a well-paying job, but I think a lot are looking for more balance.

This topic especially came to mind for me as I was doing my taxes from my photography business this past week. It was the first year that my income was pretty much entirely based on getting people to buy pretty pictures. I had always heard people say that the last thing you wanted to do to a hobby you enjoyed was try to make a living from it. I certainly understand the thought process behind that, but I can also say that I took a bit of pride from having managed to grow that business, to do something that makes me happy and earn some money doing it. Nothing to scoff at! I won’t rule out doing other things to pay the bills in the future, including taking more conventional jobs again. But I think it’s easier to consider that when I’ve gone out on a limb myself and not completely fallen on my face. Definitely an enriching experience.

So, besides trying to sell photos, what else do people do to live outside the 9 to 5 world? Some of the people I follow sell other arts and crafts, some are workamping, some are doing the same jobs they did before either full time or part time but have taken their jobs with them, and of course there are all brands of entrepreneurs on the web. I think the most empowering thing is learning that you are not defined by the work you do.

So, this is where I would like to hear from others who have made the transition to earning your way of life unconventionally! You’re welcome to add to the comments below.

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