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When I left the house this morning my neighbor Jay the handyman cabana boy was working on the lights on his fishing boat trailer. He and his pal were on the way out of town.

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I rolled down the window and whined in an Arnold Stang-type voice “Hey, I think it’s the hubcaps! Check the hubcaps!”

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He laughed then flipped me off. We’re good like that.

So he’s on his way out of town to go fishing on a lake. He does handyman work around the complex and around the Valley. He could have spent this day and the whole weekend working little jobs to bring in more money. So many opportunities for a skilled and organized guy with tools, experience and connections!

So what’s his excuse for this boat folly?

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Well see: Jay doesn’t hate himself. That’s a big part of it.

His non-work life is active and welcoming enough that he doesn’t need to bury himself in work to avoid confronting just how empty and meaningless his world outside really is. And that’s because for him, it isn’t: He has strong relationships not only with his girlfriend, but also with the various tradesmen who park their lineman trucks up and down the main road most weekends when sports grunting-cheering noises and a certain aromatic smoke wafts from the windows of his cottage. He’s got a couple of dogs and cats.

I get the impression that it’s good to be Jay.

So, see–he works and earns enough, then lets the rest go. Because . . . Well, because fuck it. That’s why. Enough is enough. Any sane person has he concept of “enough”. Sufficiency.

I ran across this article. It reminded me of something I hadn’t considered in a long time: Protestant work ethic..

Hmmm.

Seems to have a very long tail among Americans, that work ethic. The fevered efforts of the pilgrim fathers still demand tribute, even among sleek, urbanized, secular humanists whose religious symbol is a circle with a cross in it:

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And that’s the closest I can come to explaining what’s happened in white collar America.

We’re killing ourselves with work to buy things we don’t need to avoid confronting the awful truth of the emptiness of our own private lives outside, which are generally hollow and desperate.

My favorite ski instructor is a former currency trader who left the field to move to Breckinridge and start over. He realized that his career was killing him and keeping him from things he loved. So he came up with this way of fixing it, which was very currency-trader-like: He made a spreadsheet listing what it would cost at minimum to live the way he really wanted to live with his wife and kids, and then decided to make only that much with a little extra for savings. So he left New York, moved to Breckinridge, became a ski instructor, and consulted on the side. Gone where the $1000 nights on the town. Gone were the cable channels he didn’t have time to watch. Gone were the expensive gifts and occasional obscene indulgences. Gone was the million-dollar mortgage.

He’s one of the happiest people I’ve ever met.

Have a good weekend. Remember to say “fuck it” if you can.