Oh, sweet, sweet relief

I finally got my first paycheck, and wonder of wonders, it is NOT less than the paycheck I was bringing home before as a contractor. For those who do not understand the significance of this, contractors typically earn 30% more than full-time employees, because of the benefits they don’t get. A full-time employee (FTE) has insurance coverage of several kinds, retirement savings, flexible savings plans for extra health expenses, and a number of other perks that usually skim off the top of the paycheck, making a sizeable dent in one’s take-home pay.

With this full-time job, that is not happening. Even with a percentage of my checks taken for the pre-tax flex savings plan, as well as my retirement savings (which my employer is matching).

I was nervous… with good reason. But wonder of wonders, I am bringing home the same amount of money I was before — AND there is quarterly performance pay for another little boost.

What an enormous relief this is. I can breathe again. I wasn’t sure how I was going to explain to my spouse that I bring home less money. They count on me “making bank”  — and so do I.

I can rest tonight. I’m having some supper, then it’s off to bed.

This is very good.

Yes, but I’m free

Not the life I always wanted

I woke up this morning with an image in my head — a horse tied to a cart, pulling it along. Kind of like this image:

It reminded me of the day I have ahead of me… pulling along the burdens of the company work for, together with all the other folks on my team who are hitched to their respective wagons of family and job and mortgage, and so forth.

It made me feel sad.

And I had a realization:

Even though I have had my share of troubles, even though I do not have a college degree or a “safety net” or a lot of security around me. I am free. I have never placed a huge premium on hitching up to anyone’s wagon, and in fact the expectations of others that I will hitch up to their plans and ideas and schemes (in return for money, respectability, and some measure of safety)… well, I’ve always seen through that. In exchange for money, I lose my freedom.

Kind of like today, when I have to go off to work instead of having time to sit quietly and go about my business.

And I realized — yet again — that I have made just about all my choices in life in order to preserve and protect my freedom — even if that meant I was going to expose myself to danger and not be part of the “gang” of compadres who were on the inside track to success.

So, as I prepare for my day, I’m thinking a lot about how I can really, truly be free. I have to work to make a living, and I have to trade my time and energy for the things that will keep me alive. But I have other things I can do, to keep my spirit alive, and I must remember to do those things.

Because, after all, I am free.