It’s been an interesting day. I want to thank everyone who read my article in the Washington Post. I especially want to thank those who reposted it or tweeted it or faxed it or whatever it is you crazy kids are doing these days.
The Post allows comments on articles, so I’ve taken the time to read through them. There has been a lot of encouragement, a lot of people saying they admire what I do and wishing me luck as I continue. It’s good to know that this project resonates with people, and while I know not everyone will be interested, at least there is segment of the population that supports us crazy idiots out here.
Of course, there is also a fair share of backlash. Mostly, this criticism has fallen along the line of, “He’s doing this without healthcare and is just going to have to rely on the government if he gets sick. Plus, he’s got no long-term plan for the future.”
To which I say, fair enough.
Actually, screw it, I don’t say that.
There is absolutely no merit to their criticism*.
I do not have health insurance (or a car, as some have asked). Of all my jobs, I’ve had only one that provided it and so I had insurance for about a year, once. I used it to get checked up, at which I got a clean bill of health, and then I lost the insurance when I left that job (I’ve never been on my parents’ insurance; not sure they even have any). If I get sick, which is rare, I just deal. I had a few years in a row when I got strep throat. I paid out of pocket for a clinic visit and antibiotics. Luckily, I haven’t had strep in many years.
Last year, in Nashville, I slipped and pulled something in my chest. It hurt a great deal, to the point where it was hard to lift anything (not good for a waiter). I still worked, though. I took a lot of Tylenol and never went to the doctor. It took about a month but I healed. These are the real world issues I have to deal with living the way I do. Yes, my life is unique based on my project, but I’m hardly the only person in the world working on Customer Service wages and unable to afford health insurance. The fact that someone might get sick or hurt and not be able to afford medical attention in the wealthiest nation in the world shouldn’t be a reason to cheer or gloat (I’m looking at you Tea Party debate audience).
Some of the commentators seem almost giddy at the thought of me getting sick or getting hit by a truck, as if they were thinking, “That’ll show ’em.” It’s also pretty obvious by the rantings of some of these commentators that they were mostly (if not all) politically Conservatives, pissed at the idea that their tax dollars would have to pay for me. Well, fret not, I haven’t seen a penny of your precious tax dollar.
I love that in this so-called Christian Nation, most people’s first thoughts when thinking of another person’s misfortune is, “How does this affect my wallet?” Christ abides, indeed.
There is a certain contingent of society that would have there be no artists, no risks takers, no outliers. These people want everyone to get a job and save up money, live for the dollar. Some of them mean well. They read the article and think, like a worried parent, “That boy has no safety net if things going wrong.” It’s an understandable concern.
But I think most of these Negative Nelly’s are, in the parlance of today’s youth, simply Haters. For whatever reason, they cannot help but shit on anything and anyone that doesn’t fall in line with their own life choices. Oddly, from my vantage point, these people who would attempt to squash my dreams (not gonna happen) are the same ones decrying the government for taking away their liberties. Irony much?
Really, all they’re saying is, “These are the reasons I’d be too scared to do what he’s doing.” Money’s your hangup, man. (You should imagine a dirty hippie saying that .)
What it comes down to is, if you like my project, then I hope you’ll follow it and keep the encouragement coming. I need it. If, on the other hand, you find my project to be totally impractical and unrealistic, congratulations, you’re right. As I said in the article, I have no intention of being anyone’s financial guru. In that same article I also said my life isn’t a practical way to live. It’s the way I choose to live, that’s it.
If I get to the end of my 10 years and nobody wants to buy my book and I don’t make it as a writer, well, I’ll be crushed. But it’ll be my defeat, my grand failure, and no one else’s.
And contrary to what people are saying, I am planning for my future. I’m planning to not be filled with regrets because I let fear of sickness or slavish devotion to money and security keep me in place. Also, I’m planning to own a BMW with heated seats.
This is my dream. It isn’t yours. Pursue your own passions, whatever they may be, and don’t get so hung up on other people’s life choices. Especially the ones that have nothing to do with you.
And, again, to those who have offered encouragement and assistance over the years, I thank you. I’ve still got plenty of years ahead of me, so I’ll probably still need more. Or is getting help from friends and family now suddenly un-American?
*If, however, you want to criticize my skills as a writer, well that’s a horse of a different color. I’m not gonna argue it. What would be the point?