Losing It All
So a year ago I began this journey into the great unknown. I had a stroke (a mini-stroke) that took me out of action for several weeks causing me to lose my business. 20 plus years as a music manager/recording engineer gone just like that. I actually ended up broke and homeless. After several weeks or healing and rehab I was able to get to work as a Truck Driver. Fortunately 20 years prior I was convinced by my little brother to get a CDL Class A and over the years I kept it current.
I thought it was all good, was working and making money moved into a new apartment and everything was looking promising again. A few months into the new career my former employer was having trouble making payroll on time and when ever I expressed my concern it was always a song and a dance, "Just run this one more load" or "I'll pay you as soon as you get home" and so on. After a month of non-payment again I was facing homelessness as I had to give up my apartment then bills were stacking up and a missed child support payment resulted in my license being suspended. This after my former employer had assured me that the required payroll deduction payments had been made but claimed to be lost in the system.
I'd finally had enough and decided that I was not running anymore loads and was enroute back to Florida to settle up so that I could make a payment to get my license reactivated so that I could find a new position with a more stable company. However, those plans were dashed as I was enroute to Florida I made a required rest stop in Kenly, NC where I had to do a 10hr break before I could continue on to Florida. While on my break the truck was repossessed leaving myself and my 18 year old daughter who was riding with me stranded with no money and no way to get to Florida. Again my former employer did the tap dance saying just hang on everything was being worked out. Needless to say I didn't wait as I had no trust at all in her words so I hitched a ride to Florida with my brother who happened to be in the area picking up a load (yes, he's a professional driver as well).
That was on Sept 5 when were became stranded. After arriving back in Florida I was again homeless, broke, with no real hope of getting back on my feet. Since then I've been living on the streets moving from truck stop to truck stop sometimes crashing at my brothers house whenever he's in town. I've been fortunate to have had access to hot showers and free drink refills via my rewards card status with Loves Travel Center and Pilot/Flying J Truck Stops. I've been able to eat via funds acquired by doing online surveys and such. No, it's not how I envisioned my life but it is what it is now and all I can do is continue to work towards finding a way back.
During the past few months though I've learned a lot about myself and people in general. Some people were helpful in the beginning but that quickly turned into silence. It's sad how people who claimed to be such good friends turn a blind eye when you're in need. But I can't be upset because I know that no one is responsible for me and my well being. I also learned that you can really never depend on anyone but yourself. What's truly sad though is the fact that many people, many more than I ever thought is living paycheck to paycheck one day from disaster. They go through their daily lives like hamsters on a wheel chasing nothing. Never getting ahead.
The American dream is just that, a dream. Something that the vast majority will never live to see come true. We live in a never ending cycle of work, pay bills, put out fires, go to sleep, and repeat. We spend our entire lives working for what? To hopefully take 2 weeks out of the year to vacay? Spend years trying to save to buy a home then if you happen to purchase one you spend the next 40 - 50 years hoping to pay it off but most never do because along the way you refinance and create more debt that is never really paid off. Stressing every week to put food on the table, keep the utilities on, pay taxes, and just keep up with the constantly rising cost of living only to die from stress related complications leaving behind a mess for our children to sort out on top of their own American nightmare.
The past several months have given me a chance to reevaluate my life. The opportunity to drop out of the rat race. I guess you could call it a cleansing of the soul. I've realized that a simpler lifestyle is the logical and more sensible path for me. I used to want the house, the car, and all the "so called" perks that come with that. But I've found that I don't want that anymore. I don't need that to justify my life. I watch my 74 year old father struggle to hold on to a property that is clearly too much for him to maintain. The maintenance & upkeep, the expense, the shear headaches. I watch my friends struggle from month to month trying to hold on to an image of good living while inside they are dying from the stress. No more for me. I'm looking to purchase a small RV that can be home and transportation in one package. Cutting my expenses by two thirds and freeing up monetary resources to put towards living and not "just getting by".
I have no need nor desire to impress anyone with fancy cars, a big house, and living the image of what others think you should be. I could care less about what the next man/woman has, or how much money they have because it's all just an illusion. My American Dream only requires one thing......... Me living comfortably in my own skin and sensible space free of all the trappings that society says identifies success. Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't pursue all that you want and desire. But I am saying don't judge anyone else's success based on what you think it is. You success and someone else's success are not the same. Live your life within your means and if you feel like your struggling to get by then maybe you should make some lifestyle changes. Stop trying to keep up with the jones. Set your own standards for what makes you happy and secure.
As of this writing I am still homeless but everyday I move closer to my goal of RV living. Stress Free and detached from the grid.
Kenneth O. Jackson
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