Subscriptions of Life
This story was submitted by Mike Rabin to the Work it! Working to Live and Living to Work collection as part of the October SEEQ sessions.
My childhood was very institutionalized, mostly in ways that I imagine most have experienced. I was subscribed to an educational system that began my daily schooling in kindergarten and sustained through my final day of high school almost 13 years later. My grades and privileged upbringing filtered my experience to a track that positioned me for the institution of college and then a professional career. I knew this at a young age. My father is a doctor and my sister is four years older experiencing the next stage of childhood. My community was filled with doctors, lawyers, business people and other white-collar and blue-collar workers who had their own specified certifications, degrees and career trajectories. And then, most of them retired to their 401K savings and/or social security. That was largely what the truth of society seemed to be. After college, I joined a corporation. Over seven years, I rose the corporate ladder, step by step. No one ever jumped two steps and it was wild to see anyone jump a level sooner than 2-3 years timeframe. I earned a 401K benefit, an institution that would penalize me for using it beyond retirement. I felt two forced tugging at me. From my upbringing and colleagues’ examples, the path was pretty straightforward and conservative. And then there were the renegade forces the consultants, the quirky contractor, and role models in the public arena that pointed my possibilities in a different direction. I always wanted to achieve big things. But when I reached the level when making change was supposed to be possible, it wasn’t. I worked long hours and weekends on work that someone above me in the hierarchy could casually excuse or override. I wasn’t there to make an impact, I accepted, I was a replaceable part of a machine. I’m not a machine, I’m an organism. My / our truths are that I/we live, breathe, and survive until I die. Beyond that is our life experience. I am a unique person created and developed in a unique life experience. A company or job is something to subscribe to. I reached a point where I no seek to subscribe. I want to create my future. Experience something new and acquire new knowledge that inspires my developing perspectives of the world. That world has endless beginnings and no defined ending. Retirement seems to be a choice that I would subscribe to. It doesn’t fit how I project myself today. An obligation of living is serving one’s family, friends, community and society. Serving myself is to my health, happiness, and well-being, which is tied to my sense of serving a purpose to live. My path from here is an ideological one. Perhaps I find the necessity to resubscribe, but I will be much more aware of that choice and my responsibility to maintain my sense of self while serving another’s vision. Organizations are changing toward being more purpose-driven, and that’s a good thing for people like me. It’s still a subscription, but one that empowers the individual more to continue to develop themselves and to explore new possibilities