Land of Opportunity

I remember being distinctly underwhelmed about this latest job when I took it. I drove the long distance to the office park and thought to myself, “How ugly. How sterile. I would hate to work here.”  I laughed as the front door to the building on the first and every subsequent interview got caught up midway through my opening swing and bonked me threateningly as I tried to make my way through it.

Maybe it’s the exchange of money that cheapens it. And, so, I have been trying to cut my need for money out of the equation. I want to get to where I have time to do what I love and by putting my passion into it, by doing it well, I get to do it more.  And if the bills are paid, who can complain?

Not to reference myself, but when I look back at my two books I see clearly that my heroes are very much self-defined. They are people who get paid simply to be who they are.  And in fact, money isn’t really present at all.

I’ve been thinking lately of the contrast between myself my latest boss. He generously took us to Alaska last year on a firm retreat and as my wife and I rode that precipitous railroad that barely clings to the sides of impassible mountains. I thought of the man who directed thousands of men and animals past their breaking point, all to build him an impossible railroad to the supposed gold that lay on the other side.

I looked around at the natural beauty of that virtual Eden and thought of how beautiful it was, and how much it must have cost those men to sell the better part of their strong, young lives to build this ambitious man a railroad through the mountains.  How much adventure and high wages must have been promised to get men into position. I defiantly thought to myself that I wouldn’t have done it. No, I would have been living in a little cabin down near the bay. Not too close to the town, but not too far away either. I would have my small boat for fishing and my squaw. That would be the life for me.

Maybe a few of those men laboring on the tracks in the mountain saw the wisps of smoke from some distant, romantic cabin where someone had dug in. Maybe they dreamed about buying their freedom. Maybe one of them put his sledgehammer down and walked away from that railroad to nowhere.

He’s my hero.