I don't remember how, but I ran across this booked called, Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of Patagonia clothing. Even though I'm fascinated with the life aquatic, I'm not one for surfing and as far as I know, I've never owned a thread of Patagonia clothing. It was actually the subtitle of the book, the education of a reluctant businessman that sparked my interest. I don't consider myself a businessman either, but I have always thought seriously of owning my own magazine, advertising or PR agency, but have been too reluctant to do much more than just think about it.
There was that time that I tried making a go of it purely on freelance writing, but I was young, my list of clients was too small, and I spent too much time riding moto and bicycles when I should have been at home writing. Maybe that makes me the ultimate reluctant businessman.
I'm only about a quarter of the way through the book and I'm already impressed with Patagonia's business philosophy and practices. Owner, Chouinard says he's always had a problem with authority and the traditional ways of doing business, which is why he started his own company in the first place. Being his own boss allowed him the time to climb, surf, and ski – all the while testing the hardware and clothing his company would eventually sell.
I too have always had a problem with authority and societal expectations. From inside my own body and mind, I know wrong from right. I don't need someone else translating it for me. That's how or why I became a writer in the first place. It allowed me to express my own thoughts in most anyway I wanted to, just as long as it followed the rules of the English language. That kind of authority I could live with. But just as man has evolved into a TV watching, fast food eating, video game playing, lazy sports fan lump, I let my guard down and my labor of love was extinguished and pried away from me by one with more expensive tastes and stronger convictions than I. One of my life's few regrets so far.
I guess the difference between myself and Chouinard is that he likes authority even less than I do and he's also less reluctant than I am. That's why he took the risk and I haven't. As far back as I can remember everything I've ever enjoyed doing involved taking sizable physical risks, but when it comes to taking a financial risk, I guess I'm a coward. I'm only willing to sacrifice so much apparently.
My longtime struggle with authority and societal expectations only gets worse as I get older and find myself with less time to do the things that I really enjoy. Through my dealings with foreign colleagues who are constantly on holiday, one thing is apparent; this country works too much. It may be the land of the free, but it's certainly not the land of the free time.
So what are my options? What is the alternative? Maybe Chouinard's book will help me figure it out. Or maybe I should write my own damn book.