Sometimes, you just need to be inspired. I never planned on working in the oilfield forever, but I made a bold move this week when I called my boss and turned in my two weeks notice.
I’ve now worked in the oilfield for just shy of nine years. When I started my goals were slightly different then they are today, but not very different. Sustainable living for retirement. At the time I had a very different picture in my head of exactly what that would look like and how I would achieve it. Life has a funny way of messing up even the best laid plans, but as each door closes, another opens.
Sunday morning, after being out all night, I had a sort of meltdown. I won’t go into too many details, but crying was involved. Yes, this can happen to me too, I’m as human as the next guy. I thought about a lot of my life choices, a history of broken relationships, missing family events, the recently slowdown in the oil patch. Essentially, I’ve known for a long time that I wasn’t really happy with my situation, even though I make pretty good money. I have all kinds of toys. But something was missing from my life.
Monday morning, around the same time (3AM) I had another experience, where I was trying to comfort a friend who is dealing with some things in his own life right now. Somewhere in the discussion, I confessed to him that if I were laid off that moment, I wouldn’t really feel too bad about it. After some sleep, as the day went on, that comment bounced around my noggin. I started trying to think of the things that make me angry, and why those things were in place. A lot of weird things happened Monday, I’ll try to keep them in some kind of order.
I was having trouble writing, and instead engaged in a long and interesting conversation at my favorite coffee shop, after which I received an envelope, with no knowledge of what was inside. I mentioned it to my brother and he recommended a book he recently finished, “Life’s Golden Ticket.” Now, if you haven’t read this book I highly recommend it, specially if you are at a low spot in your life. He told me to read the book, and I would know exactly what to do with the letter. We also had a talk about letting go of the anger that we carry around inside of us. I spent a good portion of the day trying to forgive everyone I could think of who I felt had wronged me. I felt like crap. I can’t really point out the emotion, but sometimes it’s hard setting those bricks down after carrying them for so long. A little ache tugged at my heart with each one, but I also felt more calm and at ease with myself.
I arrived back at the bookstore too late. They had just closed, so I headed home, continuing to work on my list. I went to my usual meeting spot with friends and ran into exactly the two that I needed to see. I apologized to both of them, and was forgiven for my own negative behavior a couple nights before. (That’s another story) With all the forgiveness in the air, I fell asleep fast, and woke the next morning, and rushed back to the bookstore.
Tuesday night was spent reading the book, and I finished it Wednesday morning. I realized that hateful thoughts of people wronging me were not the only bricks in my bag. Another was my dream of a self-sufficient homestead. It seems at the start of every year, I tell myself that I have 2 or 3 years left and I can retire and do that. With the decline in oilfield work, I already had an emergency plan in case of a layoff. And that thought came back, “If they fired me right now I wouldn’t even care.” The solution to my problem was obvious: drop another brick.
Knowing for certain that I’d fallen off my rocking chair, I called my brother to see if he thought my idea was too crazy, or just crazy enough. I told him that I’m not where I want to be with my plans, and staying in my current situation isn’t going to help. Ten years from now I’ll still be telling myself that it’s just 2 or 3 more years at a job that I don’t enjoy at all. It was time to act. Instead of waiting on them to lay me off, as I’m sure that they wouldn’t at this point, I needed to lay myself off.
I didn’t arrive at this situation lightly. I’ve thought the matter through, and even though all the pieces aren’t there, I figured I could implement my back-up plan and wing it for the missing pieces. I made the call – no answer. I called my other boss – no answer. It was just after five and they were likely driving home, so I waited. I kept running through the oncoming conversation in my head. My heart felt like it would pump itself straight out of my chest, and my breathing was so labored that my tongue was perpetually dry. Then I got a call back.
After the conversation, something happened. A calm fell over me. I tried a sip of my drink and it tasted different. The sky looked the wrong color. Everything was a little off. After a few hours I realized that it wasn’t one brick I dropped, it was pretty much every fear holding me back from my dream. In one declaration, I managed to put the whole bag down.
What happens when there’s no more paycheck? What will I do without my solar panels? How will I survive my first couple years? When will I find the time to put up the fences? the buildings? dig a well?
All of those questions disappeared. They didn’t matter anymore. I don’t need to ask them now because instead of worrying about them, I’m now here, living it. I was seeing the whole world from a new perspective. And I smiled. Possibly the first genuine smile in over a month.
Immediately on telling people I was getting responses like: “Must be nice to have enough money to do that.” “Oh, the book’s taking off, huh?” “You’re so lucky!”
What the? Really? I guess being homeless (Immediately cut costs by ditching the house and jeep payments, that’s part of the plan) and unemployed is everyone’s dream. Who knew? I thought it was a funny anecdote.
Anyway. That’s it. I had my recommended 6 months worth of bill payments saved up, so I’m going to stretch that as far as it can go, but I’ll still pick up odd jobs and perhaps even a part-time or full-time minimum wage gig. Full time outside the oilfield is only 40 hours and I’m used to working 91+ on rigs. I’ve also been missing my family a lot, so I’ll be spending a lot of time with them (and possibly crashing at their houses a lot, hehe). But I’m going to keep writing. That’s one thing I won’t give up on. It got me out of my last slump and I love it, so I’m going to keep doing it. Who knows? It might pay off in the end and that will be my full-time gig. That and taking care of farm animals.
Whatever happens. I feel alive again, and I’m loving it. Something I learned sleeping in a tarp at my property for a week (while we were building the shabbin) taught me that I’m the happiest when I have to fight for my survival, when I have to give in to what might happen (like being eaten by a bobcat in my sleep). My situation isn’t that bad right now. I have a little money to get me by till I can find a little job that isn’t disruptive to my goals. And I’m living life on my terms. I’m driving my own plot.
My one hope is that this post can inspire you to make a hard choice that you’ve had in your mind for a while. Did it? Have you read the golden ticket book? Do you think I’m nutz?