For all the comfort, security, and familiarity that I am leaving behind, it’s important for me to remember that my old life comes with no guarantees. If I change my mind and decide not to sell my home this summer, it doesn’t mean I won’t lose it in a fire this autumn. If I chose not to retire, any number of things could have happened to put me out of business. Stability and security are illusions that can be shattered in an instant.
More importantly, leaving behind my old life gives me the opportunity to wipe the slate clean. I can put some physical distance between myself and elements of my life that made me miserable. Once the slate is wiped clean, I can make deliberate decisions about what to allow back into my life.
Without a doubt, I compare this upheaval of my life to be akin to an escape from prison. Completely shutting down my business and selling my home is the only way to get myself untangled from a web of obligations.
Here are some of the things I won’t miss…
I won’t miss my family.
All right, that’s not entirely true. I do miss my family. But leaving Green Bay won’t change that much.
I’ve got a long history of conflict with my family. That conflict culminated in my decision to sever ties around Thanksgiving 2013. I won’t go into details about the conflict here, as it is not relevant or appropriate to the main topics of this website. But I have had no contact with my immediate family and virtually no contact with my extended family for over 3 years. Leaving Green Bay will only make it harder for anyone to track me down, should they choose to. But leaving will cause no substantive change to our current, non-existent relationships.
I won’t miss my job.
I definitely will not miss my clients. Although they are the means by which I will have the freedom to retire, serving them has been a draining experience, to say the least. I admit, some of my clients are pleasant to work with and some have even been a joy. But on the whole, the experience is tainted by more than a few bad apples. They are people who don’t follow directions. They have unreasonable expectations and refuse to take responsibility for their own mistakes (and often target me to lay blame for their misfortunes). I could go on and on, and share stories that would make your toes curl.
I won’t terribly miss my colleagues, either – my fellow attorneys, opposition counsel, trustees, or judges. Sure, a good many of these people are good people that I got along with just fine. But I’ve never been particularly close to other attorneys. And again – the majority of attorneys out there are assholes, fulfilling every negative stereotype and joke ever invented of lawyers.
I won’t miss phones.
Everyone has to deal with telemarketers, political surveys, donation solicitations, fraudsters, and robocalls. The National Do Not Call Registry and tools like Nomorobo only do so much. And when you own a business, you’re an especially tempting target for these types of phone calls.
Add on to that all of my legitimate business-related calls from clients, from other attorneys, and the incessant barrage of calls I get from my clients’ creditors. Then add on to that fact that I’ve never been particularly fond of talking to people on telephones in the first place.
What it all boils down to is that I hate telephones with a passion. I hate the intrusion into my privacy, the ringing disruption to my thoughts, and people who don’t understand how voice mail works.
As soon as practicable, I intend to ditch having a phone line altogether. I’ll gladly relegate myself to having only a data connection. That way I can check e-mails and other messages at my convenience, and not when someone else decides its time for me to talk to them.
I won’t miss my stuff.
To date, I’ve sent several truckloads of possessions to the local thrift shops. I’ve sold a number of items on CraigsList, and filled several dumpsters with things I can’t sell or donate. I have yet to regret any of it.
I’m not suggesting that I’ll never have regret at getting rid of something that I find use for later. But the odds are pretty low. I haven’t used much of the stuff I’ve gotten rid in the past year and I don’t anticipate using any of it in the next year. Most of it, I didn’t even recall having. A lot of things have been sitting in storage, in boxes and in closets, completely forgotten.
There are some things I don’t want to get rid of. There are many things I objectively should get rid of but am having a difficult time parting with just yet (this is a process – minimalism doesn’t happen overnight).
But as I clear more and more stuff out, I feel more free. I feel lighter. I feel more mobile.
I won’t miss the bills.
At present, I lack the skills to live completely off the grid. My past failures in deer hunting suggest to me that I’d starve before making it as a hunter / gatherer. I will always have bills – if nothing else, I’ll have a grocery bill.
But shutting down my law practice and living out of a van for a while means getting rid of so many bills. No more professional membership dues or continuing legal education. No more marketing expenses or phone lines. I can stop paying an expensive mortgage, property taxes, utilities, and insurance. I won’t have to pay for equipment leases, buy office supplies, pay for software maintenance, or pay for malpractice insurance.
As I get used to being a nomad, I’ll be able to cut down my bills further and get down to what I really need to survive.
I won’t miss the responsibilities of home ownership.
In addition to the mortgage and other housing expenses, I won’t have to worry about maintenance. It’s unlikely that I will have to mow lawns, rake leaves, or shovel snow.