Monkeywrench your life. What does that mean?
According to Merriam-Webster, a Monkey Wrench is:
1: a wrench with one fixed and one adjustable jaw at right angles to a straight handle
2: something that disrupts
It’s the second definition I have in mind; something that disrupts. And yes, I know it’s weird that I write monkeywrench as one word instead of two. I always have and even though I know it’s wrong, I’m going to continue doing so.
There are the sort of typical disruptive events in life. You’re going along happy and content in your day-to-day life until one day you meet that special person and suddenly you’re thinking about marriage, then house, then baby, and your life has taken a turn.
Birth. Death. Marriage. Children. These are milestone events that we measure life by. They disrupt the comfortable flow of our lives and set us on a new course.
But sometimes these disruptive events, these monkeywrench moments, occur only in our heads. A growing dissatisfaction with the course life has taken. Boredom. A need for a change. An irresistible itch to do something else. Maybe it’s a kind of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), but not in the sense that expression is usually used. Not the fear of missing out on an epic party, but the nagging fear that you’re missing out on what your life should be.
For me the first of the Monkeywrench Moments was when I decided to resign my job and spend a summer hiking the Appalachian Trail. I didn’t do this suddenly and precipitously. The idea had been in my head for years, and once I decided to do it I spent over a year getting things in order so I could make it happen. Walking away from a well-paying job is not easy; and neither is explaining it to family and friends.
That summer changed my life. It took years to assimilate the lessons learned. The number one lesson might be just how little material stuff is needed to be content and happy. I lived for six months with only what I could carry on my back, and have never been as content with my day to day existence.
Until that time I had built a career in IT, even spending a decade working as an IT consultant. And when I got home from my hike I polished up my resume and put on my suit and started taking interviews and talking to recruiters. And suddenly panic set in. I just couldn’t imagine going back to cubicle life.
So I didn’t. Moneywrench Moment number 2. At the age of 50 I started all over in a new career. My wife had worked as a videographer her whole career, and with a lot of help from her I got a crash course and spent the next couple of years experimenting and figuring out exactly what niche in the industry suited me. Over the next few years she and I built a successful boutique video production company working in the Boston area. We got to meet a lot of interesting people and work on a lot of interesting events.
And then, as sometimes happens, our marriage ended. And in one fell swoop I found myself without a wife, without a home, and without a job. Yikes! What to do?
Monkeywrench Moment number three. I decided to walk away from it all and start over yet again. My ex kept the condo and the business. I took the motorhome we had bought the year before, hitched the car behind it, and left for parts unknown. I’m still figuring out this new life, and there are plenty of things to worry about, but I’m having a blast!
And that’s what I hope this blog will be about. Figuring out this new life. There will be plenty of entries about places I visit, hikes I do, stuff like that. But also a bit of me trying to figure out what it all means.
I hope you’ll come along for the ride.