My life is playing out exactly the opposite as I had figured it three years ago. I’d have a comfortable living, working just enough to get by. I’d spend most of the rest of my time with my laptop. I’d spend whatever was left as another bored 20-something.

Yet by Friday, I’ll have clocked almost 60 hours — a third of that time-and-a-half, some of it even double time — over five days at an unsalaried job, and I spend nearly a fifth of that time driving. For fun, I spend on average 15 hours each week playing my trombone or hanging out with other band people — especially the really old ones.

I spared a minute or two to stop by a bridal shop to buy myself a tuxedo between work and rehearsal. In the same trip, it took another minute or two to replace my belt — never buy reversible belts with a built-in hinge, because expensive does not equal reliable — and I only had the time for both errands because the stores were right on the way to band practice.

I’m busy.

Perhaps the best illustration: Because I’m the responsible sort, or like to think so, I don’t answer my cell phone while on the road, at rehearsals, working, sleeping and showering. Save for the 12 minutes I spend waking up every morning and perhaps the better part of my weekends, it’s impossible to get ahold of me.

I’m really busy.

Because I’m not salaried, I have no work responsibilities shoved on me for over my weekends. On two days of the week, I can spend as much time as I want reading long-winded histories and long-winded fiction, checked out from my local library.

I never achieved this sort of freedom in college. Owing to professors’ busywork, my frenetic schedules and a sadly delinquent campus library, I was doing almost as much as I am now, but it never seemed to matter as much. Papers were just another hurdle, over which I’d leap; going to class was just another sand trap, around which I’d aim.

Now, working matters. Now, I don’t have to worry about artificial deadlines, arbitrary assignments, fundamentally useless paper pushing. I’m doing it for real, now, and all doors are open — that’s liberation, and it changed my whole paradigm. I hated work, but now that I’m busier than I’ve ever been, I love it.

Funny how that works out.

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