Freedom will not make you happy. Don’t listen to anyone who says so. If you have to keep your Instagram fresh as a reminder of how good your life is, then maybe it’s not. Your social media game is the equivalent of North Korean propaganda.
I had a pile of money and was free for a while, and it wasn’t that great. All you do is ruminate over the myriad ways you could possibly lose your freedom. Lightning could hit me and I’d be bedridden. Or my mother and grandparents and siblings and cousins could all die on the same day, and I’d be stuck raising my nephew. Once you start doing that, your freedom is already gone.
Freedom is not the magical time you hope it will be. But there’s still magic to be had in this life. It’s just that the only people who experience it are the guys in Dover, NH who have fed themselves into the blue collar maw, wear flannel, and have feet so swollen after thirteen hours on the clock that they have to cut their boots off. Quivering with joy on the drive home just because they’re sitting down. Floating down the river of the sweet narcotic that is the first beer from the fridge. Getting into bed and being too tired to move your jaw to say good night, that’s magic.
The dream is dead. I no longer exist as an artist. I’m working again, every single day. I come home so tired I fall asleep halfway through taking my pants off. No more Saturdays, but that’s all right. I can’t remember the last time a Saturday actually lived up to the hype.
What I do is teach IELTS English exam courses for Vietnamese adults. Lots of security guards and college students and some doctors and soldiers and managers, too. The salt of the earth. I interact with them in the way that politicians pretend to. And I care about their success in the same way that politicians pretend to. They work hard. If I close my eyes I can hear the gears in their heads turning. They bleed from the eyeballs as they try to memorize our idioms. Native knowledge of English is a golden gift. And what have you done with it, other than run around creating perversions like bae.
It’s nice to arrive at work and not want to die from the minute you punch in. Nice to feel valued. It’s also pretty nice to get paid. I make more money teaching a single 90-minute class than I have from an entire lifetime of writing. All cash, under the table, no taxes like I’m a drug dealer.
Not that it’s amazing money – nightclub bartenders still make more money in a night than I do in a week… except wait, actually they don’t. You have to apply the exchange rate. A US dollar earned in Vietnam is like three US dollars earned in America. Because in America you have eight kinds of taxes and three kinds of insurance, and also car payments and gas for the car and probably a mortgage and a nonzero amount of credit cards. And plummeting stocks courtesy of the financial fuckery of Brexit. And probably kids. Not having kids is like writing your future self a check.
Don’t listen to the artists. You should just go to work and stay there forever. Expression feels good but the pleasant simmer of having stockpiled money is much, much better. It’s definitely preferable to writing yet another gorgeous blog post that’s simply here and gone like a firework.
Just be at work, always. Be too busy for anyone else’s bullshit. Be a pillar of virtue, be a bitch in a building. Be like Jay Z and not even notice the money piling up. Be grateful that your long shots didn’t work out and you don’t have to worry about sustaining your impossible luck.
I finally have this life thing figured out. And all shall continue to be good, as long as I don’t get inspired again.