All of our lives we’ve been told of the freedoms we have by being Americans. Freedom of speech, religion, to bear arms, press, etc. It is only when we get to be middle-aged that we realize we haven’t taken advantage of the most important freedoms promised by American doctrine; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We emerged from our teens and early adulthood filled with hopes, plans, and a blueprint for the rest of our lives. The plan of my contemporaries and I was pretty simple; find a good paying job, get married, become a parent, raise kids, buy a house, then retire from those good paying jobs when we get to retirement age. Simple blueprint, the same one followed by our parents and grandparents. We thought we knew the path our lives would follow, and we were willing to dedicate ourselves to the fulfillment of this plan. Then we turned forty and everything flipped upside down.
When I started at my “good paying” job, I was 26 and I figured I’d found the job which would take me comfortably into retirement. Steady raises, bonuses, plenty of vacation time, 401k plan, plus a company pension. Factor in the possibility of Social Security and I thought everything would be smooth, as did my peers. Then one day I walked into my job and an epiphany erupted throughout my spirit; I’d rather be doing something else because I’m not going to make it to retirement age.
Uh-oh. This realization was unforeseen. I was a closet writer at the time, unpublished and unsure of what I was going to do with my writing. I didn’t know what was next for me, but I knew I had to get moving. I’d begun to get stomach aches every day when it was time to go to my job, my system being stubborn, unwilling to continue the monotonous routine which I was accustomed to. I wondered if there was something wrong with me until I talked to friends and relatives who revealed they were feeling the same way. The path we thought would be for us wasn’t. We have other fish to fry.
We (my circle of contemporaries) all started making moves, striving to free ourselves of the shackles we’d placed on ourselves. The things in life we were privately passionate about began to resemble our own personal Holy Grails, our Golden Tickets which we hadn’t cashed in yet. Friends returned to college, other friends started their own businesses, unwilling to be employees anymore, cashing in 401ks and stepping out on Faith. Chasing happiness and getting free.
Since turning 40, I’ve published six books, been in three anthologies, write for Garden Spices Magazine, started a writing page, a website, performed Spoken Word in public, sold personal poems, and my latest endeavor is a sports page on Facebook, Voices from the Bleachers. All of this has happened because I recognized the path I envisioned as a young adult isn’t for me. Sure I’m not making a lot of money writing, but it’s steadily increasing. As I develop more as a writer, my scope will increase, as will my opportunities. My wife and I are on a six-year plan to freedom, chasing our goals, and putting our passions to work. I’m 44 now and by 50 (God-willing and the creek don’t rise) I’ll be free. Free to pursue happiness… finally.
-Marlon S. Hayes
Marlon S. Hayes is a writer, blogger, poet, and author. He can be followed daily at Marlon’s Writings on Facebook, and at marlonhayes.wixsite/author. His latest book ‘Sippin’ Life at Lucky’s Bar and Grill’ is available on Amazon