Look, I’m the last person on Earth to criticize somebody for getting out of the law firm life and following a dream. But I’m a little worried that “Jack,” who writes the blog Adventures in Voluntary Simplicity, might have lost a little bit of his grip on reality. I spent most of the morning reading Jack’s missives. It’s a bit like reading a Walt Whitman poem that’s been printed with letters cut out from various magazines.
But, despite his apparent madness, Jack is still gainfully employed as an attorney (he doesn’t say where). Law firm employment is of course something that Jack intends to discontinue. He’s got a whole plan he wants to execute so that he can leave his job by the end of 2009:
There is nothing inherently wrong with my job as a lawyer. In fact, for several years, I really felt that it was interesting and intellectually challenging. On the other hand, coming into work was a wonderful way to play adult and pretend that I knew all the answers that really mattered. Putting on expensive suits, traveling all over the world, representing important clients, knowing the location of expensive restaurants, etc…were all just a way for me to tie additional knots in an ever-expanding invisible chain of hopeless materialism. …
And then I started getting…well…bored. The mind-numbing effects of sitting in front of a computer for 12, 13, 14 hours a day 6, sometimes 7 days a week making very rich people even more rich definitely caught up with me. …
So here I am. Making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in a job that infuriates me and gets me no closer to fulfilling my potential.
Okay Jack. I’m with you buddy.
But the plan gets weird after the jump.
Who among us has not had Jack’s fleeting moment of clarity that we might be worth more than what a Biglaw firm is willing to pay? Of course, most of us take the moment and stuff it way back down into a place where it can’t hurt us anymore.
Jack? He’s kinda taking the Robert Frost approach:
The way I see it, I need to take advantage of my current salary until I can do the following:
1. Dispose of my townhouse.
2. Get rid of my existing consumer debt.
3. Arrange to sell/give away most of my possessions.
4. Have enough saved so that I can earn a certain amount a year in interest.
Sell your possessions? Why would you do that? “Things” are cool. Who doesn’t like things?
Jack made this plan back in July. Since then he has been posting regular updates about how his quitting process is going:
From the beginning, I could justify leaving my law firm because by the time I did I would have enough cash to feel comfortable and secure for years to come. While the plan calls for having enough money in the bank to make $10k a year in interest, the reality is that I could probably live off whatever salary I get from the dream jobs I am currently researching without tapping into my savings. Bottom line, even if I were to leave my job in 6 months or even 3 months, I would still have enough in savings to make leaving my job early worthwhile.
What this all means is that the date of my departure from the law firm is no longer based on how much I have in savings. In fact, freedom for me now depends on how soon I can figure out the practicalities of getting rid of every unnecessary physical thing in my life. As soon as I can dispose of the townhouse and get rid of my furniture I will be in a position to quit my job. What a difference a change in perspective can make.
Whatever happened to the old “flaming-poop-on-desk” method of quitting? Isn’t that the traditional language for telling the world “I’m having a nervous breakdown, please help me.”
In any event, Jack’s most recent post is what caught the attention of the legal blogosphere:
How about it, my dear reader? Do you feel like starting a little revolution? I’ve got nothing better to do and I figured it might be fun.
WHAT ARE WE REBELLING AGAINST?
So, what are we rebelling against, you ask? Materialism. Consumerism. Apathy. Injustice. The feeling that all the problems we face are impossible to solve. And, above all, our irrational reluctance to love our fellow man.
But wait, it gets better:
The plot is actually fairly straightforward: give away a sizable amount of money I don’t really need to random people. Here are the basics:
*Stuff blank envelopes with bills of random denominations.
*Include a note with the following narrative:
“To the person who finds this envelope,
I am a person who has enough. Take this money and use it as you wish. In return, I hope you can search within yourself and realize that all that matters in life is love. So, call your family. Help a friend. Lend a stranger a hand. In the end, all we have is each other.”
*Drop off the envelopes at random and not so random locations throughout the East Coast.
See, the thing is, I kind of love (in the Platonic sense) Jack now. I really want him to succeed. I find it fascinating that in this time of layoffs and turmoil, this guy still has a job.
But, since he is clearly bats^&$ crazy, I’m really worried that my new friend will end up in a hollowed out van in Alaska, Into the Wild style.
There are so many associates out there who feel the same way Jack does everyday. The take away point from Jack is that the golden handcuffs are only as strong as you allow them to be. There’s always a way out.
… And most people can find that way out without giving up all their stuff.
Good luck Jack.
Lets Start a Revolution!!!!!!!!!!! [Adventures in Voluntary Simplicity]