How I Quit My Job And Got Filthy Rich.
“The Matrix is the wool that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” ~ Morpheus to Neo, The Matrix
I broke up with the Rat Race today.
Wrote a sweet Dear John letter, handed it to my boss and walked out on my job.
Suddenly I can breathe again.
This tornado in my soul has been raging for months. It starts by announcing itself in the body — a knot in the gut. Insomnia. Anxiety. Then it sets up a squatter village in the mind and the trouble becomes an act of violence.
The relentless assaults from toxic thoughts create a battering ram — self against self.
I’m not alone. More heart attacks occur at 9:00 a.m. Monday morning than any other time of the week. Too much self-hatred with the corn flakes will do that to a person.
This is a preemptive strike against the pending heart attack. I can see him in the wings, practicing his lines, itching to get on stage.
No. I’m interested in saving my heart, and it starts by freeing the longings in my soul.
Of course, there is fear:
Will I survive?
How will I pay my bills?
How about this? Fuck you, Fear.
Here’s another call to reinvent myself. I am a reptile in all my glory. Another skin bites the dust.
In the late 1800s, J.P. Morgan paid a man named Edward Curtis to photograph Native Americans while the U.S. government was busy making war on their culture. He’d dress them up in silly outfits that made no sense, put a rifle in their hands and snap a photo.
Take a good look at those photos. Clearly they hadn’t caught on to the whole selfie thing yet; every last one of them — a thousand-yard stare.
Pretending to be something you’re not will do that to you.
Among other reasons for being so unhappy in those pics was the idea that when the white man snapped the picture, a blast of light would come from the camera and steal their souls. The Shadow Catcher, they called Curtis.
After a while in the Rat Race, I begin to feel like Chief Joseph:
“I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”
In today’s world, the Rat Race is the new Shadow Catcher.
It’s the Dark Wizard who hypnotizes an entire race of people to ignore their hearts longings, deny inspiration, and work for a corporation with no soul.
I have no interest in fitting in. I’m interested in creating something new out of this great big palette of color that I am.
I’ve been here before, of course. For most of us, the thought crops up, “Screw it, I’m not cut out for this.” You run into problems with the environment, clash with the bullshit mission statement and maybe even become a dreaded truth teller. That’s usually a sign you’re not cut out for the game.
And they will let you know in ways that are explicitly personal.
Been there, done that.
I used to think it meant there was something wrong with me.
Here’s a hint: they want you to think there is something wrong with you.
They try to hypnotize you, make you think you’re problematic, not a team player, not playing the game right.
If you don’t fit into the Matrix — the politics, eating garbage all week long for peanuts, stuffing your own passion and creativity into a little tiny box that makes no noise and spreads no wings in the world because even the sound of a butterfly flapping its wings is to much of a disturbance for the corporation.
The Matrix wants you to think there is something wrong with you. It’s like the batterer who convinces his victim that the beatings are really love, and you’re no good without me. He convinces you, “You need me,” and “If you behaved better, I wouldn’t have to hit you.”
Its power lies in your own capacity for self-denial.
Today I renounce self-denial.
I know who I am and I know who I am not. The corporation doesn’t want you to know who you are and if you do, do it on your own time. Meanwhile, to hell with you and your own inspiration.
To hell with your dreams and your creative yearnings.
Want to write that book? That’s a hobby, do that on your own time.
It took me 30 years of this mud wrestling match to realize there is nothing wrong with me.
Guess what? I have a book in me that I need to get out. No, make that three books.
It was a book 25 years ago, but I swallowed that one, and then I swallowed another one 15 years ago, and another one seven years ago.
Actually, four times I’ve written half a book, all during previous brief sabbaticals. It was half a book because I’m trying to make a living while living half a life.
When you’re busting your ass to make a living for someone else who doesn’t give a damn about your dreams, it’s hard to get that book out.
If I keep swallowing my books, soon enough I’ll choke to death on my own unspoken stories.
But this is not the first time I’ve walked off the grid. I’ve made a lifestyle of it. I’ve taken five sabbaticals in my career in order to breathe, nourish myself, connect with my heart and do what I love. My path has been intermittently fabulous.
I have not made a lucrative living as a result but I’ve had a very rich and rewarding life precisely because I have followed this instinct — an instinct that most people ignore.
I do it to keep from losing myself because I start to become sick when I feel my creativity and authenticity being swallowed up by the system.
Eventually, you lose your sense of who you are. The rats of the race begin to eat you from the inside out.
Not me. I’ve made a practice out of bailing out of this dysfunctional system.
My mistake is that every few years I stick my toes back in, motivated by the siren song of security. Motivated by fear rather than inspiration. That’s more than a Red Flag. That’s the Call to Prayer blaring across the loudspeakers of my soul.
Let’s face it, it can be scary out there without that steady feeding schedule. So I do it. I jump back in and get comfortable (for a minute).
And then a minute’s up. Every time I try to get back into one of these blood-sucking institutions, within a year or two I feel like I’m being buried alive. Shoveling dirt up on my face until I can no longer breathe.
I rarely follow conventional advice: “Make sure you don’t leave before you have another (buoy to hang onto) job.”
No. I just go when it’s clear that the next time I burp I might vomit out my soul.
Years ago I decided to wade back into the waters for a big job for big money at a big hospital. The more bureaucratic the institution, the more hoops they make you jump through to land that brass ring. They figure, if you can tolerate the hazing of six group interviews, you just might stand a chance.
They circled the vetting wagons around me and asked: “Why do you want to work here?”
I like to shoot myself in the foot by speaking the truth: “The job description inspires me. If it doesn’t inspire me, I’m not interested. If your vision inspires me, we’re a good match. Otherwise, don’t hire me.”
Some wise person at the table asked me, “Do you think you’re ready to take a job in a political environment like this?”
“No,” I told them. “I’m done with jobs. I don’t want another job for the rest of my life. I want a vocation. If you hire me, you’re hiring a person who’s invested in a life of purpose. You’re hiring a man with a mission that resonates with yours. And I guarantee, if you do that, you will get my life blood. No counting hours. No worries about benefits or salary. I want to do something I’m willing to bleed for. I don’t want a job. Forget jobs. I’m aiming for higher than that.”
I was not hired for that position.
The corporation doesn’t want your truth. They don’t want your passion. They want your obedience.
Take note: the middle syllable in obedience is die.
People tell me, “Oh, you’re so courageous.”
No. I’m not courageous. I’m more than that. I’m desperate.
Desperate not to let my heart collapse from malnourishment.
Desperate not to lose myself to the terminal disease of chronic people-pleasing, nodding through performance appraisals, taking the hits, constantly swallowing my voice.
Am I scared? Yes.
Sometimes I worry I won’t survive past 65 without that pension.
But if I don’t write this book, I will die with this story inside of me.
What do you want to do? What makes your heart sing?
Want to dance?
Want to make art?
Want to sing?
Act in a play?
Become a doula?
Run a sustainable children’s garden?
The Matrix tells you that’s a hobby and that it’s irresponsible.
You’ve got bills to pay.
And even if you aren’t getting rich, you’ve got to pay those pesky student loans that you never will make enough to pay off anyway.
Meanwhile, my soul withers away, shrinking like an old man shivering in a cardboard box on the street in winter, just hoping one day to get that gold watch and retire to Florida.
I’m 50, and I don’t see any gold watch in my future. I’ve got wings. Fuck you if you think I’m not going to spread them.
I dare you to try and keep me from flying.
Today, I woke up into sanity.
I declared 2015 to be the year I write my book, to focus on my health and wellness, to offer my creative gifts to the world.
Maybe I’ll make a lot of money, maybe I won’t.
No matter; I’m not making a lot of money anyway. But guarantee one thing: Now that I’m free, I’m filthy rich.
My friend passed on some words of wisdom about that:
“I have spent my years on my internal work, my spiritual work, and my foundation is now broader and deeper on which to build my life that is priceless, and I will take it with me beyond this life.”
No disrespect to the majority who have children, mortgages and mouths to feed — who need to keep trudging into their jobs.
For some, that may even be enjoyable and enriching and I hope so for them. I wish nothing but joy and happiness on those that are doing the 9 to 5, 35-year Gold Watch plan.
But for me, No, Thank You. Who knows when the clock stops ticking? I’ve got a whole life in me that’s begging for a voice in this world.
I’ve got wings that are itching to spread out.
I’ve swallowed my golden orb long enough. I was born to give birth to that. I have no business selling my soul to this Matrix.
I have no business doing anything but remember my Original Instructions. So, to the Rat Race, I say, “Good Riddance! Me and you are done.”
Keep my things, I don’t need them. I’ve got worlds to create.
You’re probably wondering, “Okay, so what’s this writer’s name?”
Sorry, you don’t get that gift. My name is priceless, and besides, the Matrix is the mother of the Blacklist, and I intend to capitalize off of your ineptitude by offering my services to revive your legion of zombies.
I will make my living off of your failure to validate your minions.
I am Neo, and I am not the only one.
We are legion.
Neo has traveled the world providing transformational healing and personal development in a variety of settings. He’s an artist, teacher, counselor and author who specializes in the practice of “Soul Tuning”: helping individuals and teams tune into their soul’s longings.