I build digital things. Websites. eBooks. Blog posts.
The digital lifespan is short. I go back to blog posts I wrote a year ago and half of the links I included are now dead. A company website I poured my heart into 3 years ago is gone.
My brother is a mason. He builds fireplaces, outdoor ovens, and patios.
Sometimes I’m jealous of his job. Years later his work is still standing.
We build our lives like my brother builds a brick wall.
Brick by brick.
Driver’s license? That’s a brick.
Baptism? Another brick.
High School Diploma? Another brick.
We keep building:
- Reaching drinking age.
- Having a girlfriend or boyfriend.
- Getting engaged.
- Graduating from college.
- Getting a “real” job.
- Buying a house.
Our culture provides the design, and we keep working to complete it.
Better, faster, and higher than our neighbors.
Ditch the Suburbs!
Along comes the idea to ditch suburbia.
We buy an RV. Or a sailboat. Or a tiny house.
And we think the experience we’re setting out on is the capstone for our wall.
You know what a capstone is, right?
In masonry it’s the completing brick. The finishing touch. Once in place, it’s time to stand back and admire your work.
But there’s another definition of capstone:
the high point : crowning achievement the capstone of her career
Ditching Suburbia can look like the capstone of a life well lived.
Another achievement. Another thing to talk about in the Christmas newsletter to family.
But ditching the suburbs isn’t the crowning achievement of a well-lived suburban life.
It’s the beginning.
It’s the beginning of a process.
A process of questioning.
The Questions Keep Coming
In order to ditch the suburbs you have to ask yourself a lot of questions:
- Did owning this house make us happy?
- Do we really need to keep all this stuff?
- How little space do we actually need?
- Do I need to stay in one place to feel like I’m part of a community?
- Will I really miss the hobbies I can’t take on the road?
Make no mistake. It’s hard.
But you’ll get through it. You’ll shed your suburban skin and find a new way of living.
But that process of questioning?
It doesn’t stop.
When you realize the “American Dream” isn’t a one-size-fits-all life, you’ll find yourself questioning other aspects of your world. Maybe you’ve been misled there too.
Are you a religious person? Are you still satisfied with how churches are organized and run?
Have you always thought your kids needed a college degree? Are you still confident in the current state of the educational system?
Were you planning on a traditional retirement? Have you met retired people who didn’t appear heathy? Or happy?
Here’s the thing.
Ditching suburbia isn’t a capstone.
It’s a cornerstone.
My brother would lay a cornerstone first. And build up from there.
Ask him to go back and change out a cornerstone on a completed project and you best be prepared for his bill. He’d have to destroy his work and rebuild it.
Same thing with ditching the suburbs.
Be careful when you remove that cornerstone assumption that a suburban life was the best and only way to live.
You might be surprised at what comes toppling down next.