34° 16' 28.72'' N 119° 13' 44.51'' W

Freedom of Choice

Aaron McHugh

A good friend told me about a big check he is about to deposit. He’s a pro. He is a professional mercenary. He plays the game for money. He’s repeatedly found a way to play the corporate slot machines well enough and consistently enough to line up the cherries. For him, the one-armed bandit flashes “We have a winner”.

Big paydays-yes. And he’s also had health problems, stress problems and occasionally opts out of family vacations to keep the game going. His college funds are funded. His house is paid for. His retirement is secure.

People who are good at the money game seem agreeable with the trade offs. Or at least when they start the game, the odds seem in their favor.

I went fishing with a new friend and he told me about a different game he plays. He has avocado trees and chickens in his backyard. He has a fleet of surfboards to share with guests. He’s driving back home after a six-week long family road trip across the West fly fishing, camping and speaking at breweries.

I asked him what his routine is. He said he starts most days in his writing shack or at the beach surfing. While he was romping the West, he rented his house to a friend and his family. His renter ate from their garden, huddled together in their simple 1,200 sq ft bungalow and slowed their life to a simple, sustainable idle.

His renter returned home to his suburban beige box home and is going through withdraws. For thirty-days, they lived a life they didn’t know was possible. Living simply, unhurried and connected with the people they love. Now they know too much.

They cannot unsee what they’ve seen. They cannot unlearn what they’ve learned.

The irony to me is the professional mercenary’s reward for crushing it is wealth that is measured in freedom. Freedom measured by daring adventures, sleeping in late, fishing with friends, lingering conversations, time at the beach with family, fresh meals, and being fully present in their chosen life.

Some of the wealthiest people I know long for wealth in time and connections with the people they love.

The most grounded, balanced, connected, loving, unhurried, people full of wonder and curiosity are the people who chose Life first. Financial wealth may be a byproduct, but it is rarely their aim.

Which path to freedom is best for you?