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This is a guest submission from Ricky Ferdon at Happiness-Is-The-Natural-State.blogspot.com.

The Grind Of The Marina

I worked at a marina for 22 years, being operations manager the last nine. I was the guy in charge. Everything rolled downhill to my lap. I was in charge of maintenance, hiring and firing, customer relations, insurance, everything. The hours went according to the sun, and so from April through October were long.

Most days were 10 hours, with weekends usually going to 12. The clearest way to put it: the job was crushing me. It was crushing my spirit, my sense of self, and my joy of life. I was on an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication.

I was overweight and just not happy at all. I felt trapped, due to financial obligations, with no way out. I woke-up each workday with tension very palpable in my back and shoulders.

Eventually I was able to get completely out of debt, and to save some money – not much, but some. One day the owner called me into a meeting and told me that the marina needed to go in another direction. He stated that rentals needed to pick-up, customer service needed to improve, and that a new burst of enthusiasm was needed.

He asked me, “do you think you can do that?” I paused, thought a minute, and answered, “NO, I’m not your man.” This was a bold, ballsy answer, as I realized somewhere in my head that I was stepping off the precipice of having a job and the “security” of that, and into the unknown. It was scary, and yet refreshing at the same time.

The Next Step

I left the marina the last day of September 2009. Fast forward: the first year of retirement was not that great. I DID get off of the prescriptions and cashed in my small retirement account that the company had for me. I went through some mental stuff and it truly took me almost that whole first year to be able to relax.

I “enjoyed” the first year socially, going out to eat and drink most nights. This blew a bit of my funds though. I was 54 when I retired, and had been working since age 13 in a family business. That’s 41 years of work.

A Passion For Running

beach-running

In June of 2010, I decided I wanted to get back into competitive running and began a power walking daily program.

I cut back on my meals to one a day. Around October, I began to transition to running sections of my walking course, until eventually I was running the whole thing. Also in October of last year, I had one of those epiphany or enlightenment moments. I was chatting online with a young friend who I used to mentor when he was a teen.

His words “woke me up” as to my true meaning and purpose in life. All of the spiritual and philosophical studies I had done over my life, as well as my true nature which I possessed as a youth, came together all at once and I knew what’s what.

It’s now February 2011: I am happier and more content than I have ever been in my entire 55 years.

I’ve run in two races, winning my age group in the first one. I am vegan as of January 4th if this year. The passion of my heart is mentoring youth. I am now free of the time constraints and soul searing of a job that I disliked. I can now go to various athletic events of youth I know, I have time to teach kids how to surf (for free), I have the time now to be available 24/7 to any youth for any reason.

Going Forward

I am planning on helping to coach the high school cross country team next fall, and am looking into being a volunteer coach with the local recreation department. I am using the Internet as a contact base for the many youth I know and in meeting new kids.

One mission I have is to help youth to remain open-minded and free in a world through people and institutions that seeks to put them in a box and otherwise control their thinking.

I believe that we are born happy and possessing the accompanying joy. Just watch little kids at play: their smiles, laughter, freedom and one or two will always be running!

To me, the greatest sin is for anyone/anything to try to suppress/oppress that innate purity of existence which is their birthright.

This is my greatest heart’s desire. It defines me and gives my life meaning, period. I cannot accept that I will die one day, unless the time I have here is spent in the service to others. That service is to teach self-worth, to give unconditional love, and do it by unrestricted example. THIS, then, is what I can do now that I am free from the “grind”.

The grind held me down and held me back from truly blossoming into the free thinking, free spirit that I truly am.

After 41 years, I am myself.

Ricky Ferdon is a freethinker, minimalist, youth mentor, vegan, and competitive runner. He was born and lives in Georgetown, South Carolina. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and spent his last 22 years of employment working in a a marina.

He has been married twice, has two grown children,  ages 29 and 33. He retired in September 2009. His blog can be found at Happiness-Is-The-Natural-State.blogspot.com.

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