Look, if you work in an office, and spend most of your days indoors, that’s fine. I wouldn’t judge you. There are people far happier than me who have chosen a life mostly indoors. It provides them with the means to have a big house where children can play and put them into bliss (at least when the kids aren’t killing each other). It provides them with any and all material possessions. They lack nothing.
Maybe I myself would be fine with an office life if the job and money were good. Maybe I’d even be willing to live in a big city to do this.
But I dunno.
The fact is that so much satisfaction in life comes from merely being outside. It comes breathing fresh air, and feeling the warmth of the sun, and getting its light in my eyes, and seeing Nature’s colors change from morning to evening across the landscape. Sweat and endorphins under the sun only heighten these good sensations.
In a recent post called From Atop Windmill Mountain, I mentioned how my cravings for marijuana died after I started working outside. I wonder if the death of these cravings also resulted from leaving Austin for the Texas Hill Country. Since then I’ve only lived in low population centers, where you are surrounded more by Nature than by man’s artifices. Every time I’m back in a city, the steel, glass, concrete, traffic and noise separate me from Nature and destroy peace, even if I am outside. That’s why I’m rarely in cities.
Of course, the highest paying jobs are in cities, and I do like – not love – money. However, long ago I decided I wouldn’t run the rat race. I suppose I have to thank the Book of Ecclesiastes more than anything for this. “All is vanity… and there is no new thing under the sun.” I came across these words only after college. They set in motion a process of thinking that led to the rejection of the ravenous impulse to make money that Rice University inculcated into me. It prompted me to wonder what is true for me and lasts a lifetime.
I sure as heck ain’t got this figured out. However, the fact is that not far below the surface of my being is a joy and optimism ultimately rooted in the fact I’ve let go of many vanities which allow me to accept a humbler existence filled with joy for mountains, sunshine and other fundamentals of Nature. I wouldn’t trade this appreciation for anything.
That’s why I say I don’t know if I could ever work in an office or live in a big city, regardless of the money.
Truly, Ecclesiastes taught me to consider the essence of things. This intellectual endeavor, over the years, has taught me that, yes, people are driven by many vain things. They want to outshine neighbors. They want things to point to and say, “Look at how cool I am!” They live for outward impressions – for envy – and stop seeking what is uniquely essential for them.
This traps so many into the rat race. It leaves many bitter and dependent on drugs and alcohol for happiness. Thus, they are slowly dying, and may come to discover they never lived.
Through my confusion of growing older – and there has been a lot – realizing my love of just being outside on a warm, spring day after a long, cold winter gives me comfort for also realizing I’ve not been entirely foolish in my search for meaning. My love of spring is real. How could I put a price on this?
Truly, Ecclesiastes led me to this. “Truly, the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun.”
My anticipation of springtime is almost like burning lust. The sun feels so good. The warmth is so inspiring. The future feels brighter. Just to be outside feels like life’s greatest gift.
God made Spring for us all to look forward to. There are almost no better days than those of Springtime.
And I’m grateful to make money under this sun.