I have a lot of life behind me. Not only because I’ll turn eighty next year, but because most of those years have been lived “out of the box”. I’ve had wives, children, mortgages, businesses, family vacations and all that stuff. That was one part of my life that was the most wrong part. I should never have been a regular suburban husband and father. I did it pretty well, although it took great effort because I was not really suited to the role.

I now realize that I should have followed my bohemian instincts. Instead of living inside the box of affluence that I was in with my parents and brothers, I should have left the family home, acquired a job of some kind, and earned my way through Art College. It was my error, my weakness. My father provided me with sports cars, speed boats, tailors, charge accounts and all. Not many eighteen-year-olds could walk away from that. I think, in some ways, I’d have lived a richer life if my parents had been poor and mean, but they weren’t.

Now I realize I should have worked pumping gas, or in a convenience store, or as a waiter or parking lot attendant. I would have met a variety of characters, girls who shared my creative nature and guys from varied backgrounds. I wouldn’t have to spend so much time now, in retirement, teaching myself how to draw.

Don’t struggle to live the life your parents want you to live, if it’s not the life you’d choose for yourself. In the end, staying true to yourself is the only path to personal satisfaction and inner comfort. I followed my own path after I finally broke free of my heritage, and have had many satisfying decades of life, more varied than that of most people with PhDs. Still, I wish I’d claimed my individual liberty earlier in my life.

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