I met him at a skateboard park at sunset. As you might guess, I don’t usually frequent skateboard parks. But I’d gone to the park for a relaxing walk before my mom’s night out at the movie theater. As I was driving into the park, I looked up the hill and noticed two young men skateboarding. I decided it might be interesting to go up and watch for a while. It was then that I met Jose, who was sitting on the ground watching one of his sons skateboard.
I quickly realized that Jose might be a perfect person to interview for this month’s blog series, so I approached and asked him one question. “If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you do with your life?”
This was his response.
Jose “would travel.” It’s his biggest passion, for sure. When he was younger, he got a scholarship to study in Portugal. He traveled all over Europe and visited relatives in Spain.
Jose noted that in Europe, “they work to live, not live to work.” He really appreciated how Europeans “work enough to get money to live.” Since I haven’t been to Europe yet, I asked Jose for more details. I wanted to know what this looks like in real time. Jose expanded. Europeans want to “have fun, a good meal, enjoy each other, and help each other.” They’re just “more human,” he said.
Currently, Jose works from home as a web designer. It’s been a great job for him. He’s of Puerto Rican descent and has been living in the United States for 30 years. All of his family and friends who still live in Puerto Rico have “a great life.” (Special note Minnesotans: Warmer weather is definitely a part of Jose’s ideal, great life formula! As a southern soul displaced in the north, I couldn’t agree more!)
Jose’s traveling to Puerto Rico to visit his family for the holidays this year. He’d like to bring his children when he’s able, and when they demonstrate readiness and maturity. They’re eager to have an opportunity to be immersed in the culture and learn Spanish. Ideally, Jose would love to do his web design work from Tampa, Florida, where a lot of Puerto Ricans live. If he lived there, it would be easier to travel back and forth to Puerto Rico to visit his elderly mother, family and friends.
As we wrapped up our conversation, Jose made some excellent points. “It’s very important that you love what you do,” he noted. “Why wait to enjoy life until you’re 65 [and retired]? We’re here for a little bit. Why not enjoy it?”
So what can we learn from Jose?
The concept of “working to live” NOT “living to work” is the most notable learning from Jose as far as I’m concerned. So many of us climb the ladder, dreaming of the day when we’ll finally reach the top. We climb and climb and climb some more. After a while, after we’ve earned the big bucks and bought the big house, we realize there’s more to life than work. This “dream” we spent years, perhaps a lifetime pursuing, isn’t the end all be all of life. The things that truly satisfy us in life aren’t things.
Perhaps instead of dreaming about better jobs, higher pay, bigger houses and all the disposable income we ever wanted, we should be dreaming about things that aren’t easily quantified – spending time with one another, helping one another, enjoying meals together, being “more human,” and loving what we do?
So what do you think? Do you “work to live” or “live to work?” I’d love to know a retired person’s perspective. Now that you’re no longer “living to work,” how have things changed in your life? Or maybe you decided to climb down the ladder in pursuit of a simpler life. Tell me more. I’d love to chat.
*This post is a part of a month-long 31 Days series titled Dreams from the Street. If you’d like to read more from my series, click here and you’ll be brought to the series landing page where all 31 posts are listed and linked! You can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/AmyBPederson where I’ll tweet links to all 31 posts using hashtag #write31days, and I’d LOVE to connect on Facebook at facebook.com/AmyBPederson! I’m so glad you stopped by. Make yourself comfortable and take a peek around the place. You’re welcome back anytime.