Dov Charney once tried to buy me a car.
I don’t remember what various kinds of automobile it was exactly, but I don’t think it was a particularly fancy one–a Hyundai or something like that. And there were some strings, he would buy it, and at some unlimited item in the future I’d have to take over the payments.
Like I said, I don’t recollect the exact specifics, but I remember my reply: “That’s very generous of you. I appreciate it, but no, thank you. I’m OK.”
It wasn’t merely that I was perfectly joyful driving a 1997 Volvo with 160,000 miles on it. It was that I have an aversion to obligations and intrigues, and however well-meaning the present was, an entanglement was surely part of the intent.
In his biography of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro tells the story of Johnson attempting to draft a humankind appointed John Hicks to work for him. At a meeting at a diner in Austin, Johnson attained his degree: “I’m going to lend you ten thousand dollars, ” he said, “And I crave you to take it and buy yourself a Cadillac car. And I demand you to move to a better accommodation. I require you to be somebody. Render the apartment. Get[ your bride] a fur coat. I miss “youve got to”[ connect some regional golf-clubs] and be somebody here in Austin.”
Hicks was amazed. How would I ever offer you back, he expected Johnson. Johnson plainly smiled and said, “Johnny, don’t worry about that. You let me expresses concern about that.”
Certainly offers like this are champagne problems. Most beings are endeavouring to get noticed, to get an opportunity at all. To be able to turn down a endowment or a racket give is a privilege. Most of us would kill to have a future chairperson volunteer us a car, and many people need a auto, period. Still, this privileged sentiment is not without its perils.
It’s a dangerous sport that goes back farther than Lyndon Johnson offering a guy a Cadillac. Seneca, the Roman statesman and writer, spoke often about affluent Romans who have invested themselves into pay and the destitution and addiction this created for them. Bondage, he said, often prowls beneath marble and gold. Yet, his working life was defined by these accurate debts. With his own rich, he made sizable credits to a colony of Britain at rates so high it eventually destroyed their economy. And “whats being” the resources of this fortune? The Emperor Nero was manipulatively magnanimous with Seneca, lavishing upon him numerous estates and money honors in exchange for his advice and service. Seneca likely could have said no, but after he accepted the firstly one, the secures were in. As Nero originated increasingly shaky and deranged, Seneca tried to escape into retirement but he couldn’t. He pushed all the opulence into a batch and offered to give it back with no luck.
Eventually, death–a coerced suicide–was the only option. Money in, blood out.
This is only a slightly more dramatic explain of the catch we are now in. We take out student credits to pay for an education that will get us a job we are looking forward will make those vanquishing remittances worth it. We go to the bank and ask them how much house they’ll caused us buy and then we are looking forward two parties driving every day for the next forty years will demonstrate them right.
All of us regularly say yes unthinkingly, or out of indistinct attractivenes, or out of desire or frivolity. Because we can’t say no–because we might miss out on something if we did. We envision “yes” will let us accomplish more, will give us more of what we want, when in reality it forecloses what were attempt. All of us waste precious life doing things we don’t like, to testify ourselves to beings we don’t respect, and to get circumstances we don’t want.
I read an article a few weeks ago about a principle firm in Houston that pays for a private airplane for its accompanies to fly back and forth to California. It was presented as a perk of the job: House prices in San Francisco are steep, this is something that road public service employees can enjoy living in Texas while still benefiting from the brisk technology busines in California. This isn’t a benefit. It’s a bribe, as Upton Sinclair put it. It’s the normalization of an utterly abnormal status quo–one that to sustain, the associates have to work incredibly long hours in an incredibly horrid responsibility. But formerly the hookings are in? It’s hard to get them out.
The reason we work so hard is for “financial freedom.” Somehow we ever seem to end up excessively unfree, don’t we? David “DHH” Heinemeier Hansson has talked about the deception of “Fuck You Money”( having so much better you can say, “Fuck you” to people asking you to do stuff you don’t wishes to do ). How numerous fuck yous are we examining from these parties, he queries. The faith is: Not countless. That’s the net.
The irony of that volunteer from Dov, I knew, was that he might be giving me a car but part of the reason was to make sure I wouldn’t go anywhere. Stuck with the payments, grateful for the gift, how could I question circumstances? How could I pursue “peoples lives” I craved? The reaction was that I wouldn’t be able to. And I received that happen. Other people who hadn’t been able to say no–for personal rationalizations, for fiscal rationales, because they didn’t consider the strings–to vehicles or green cards or accommodations or positions of power were affixed when the company began to fall apart. As events spun out of restrain, and lines–ethical and otherwise–were spanned, the latter are complicit. They were dazed, very, to what they were doing.
The ancient philosophers understood and warned against this. As Epicurus set it, “Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all wealth.” The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said “wealth exists not in having immense holds, but in having few wants.” There is also a storey about Socrates. He turned down an invitation from Archelaus, the emperor of Macedon, because he wanted to “avoid living hundreds of thousands of deaths.” Because to him countenancing a indulgence he couldn’t pay back, that originated reliance, was worse than fatality. It was jeopardizing his freedom. It was slavery.
We instinctively grasp the difficulty of Socrates’ position because one of the hardest things to do in life is to say “No.” To biddings, to applications, to indebtedness, to gifts, and to the stuff that everyone else is doing. Saying yes is so easy…and it feels so good.
Even harder is saying no to less obvious duties: getting caught up in the status of the job , normalizing yourself at any particular rank, the drama, the rushing. Why are so many bandings from the 70 s and 80 s still on the road leading? It’s not only the money, it’s that they need the adulation of the crowd. They can’t going to go to regular life. Neither can most of us formerly we have perceived the forbidden fruits of ability or notoriety or being requirement.
Freedom is the most important thing. We’re born with it, and more many of us wake up one day astounded at the orders we wear. The conclude? Because we said yes too many times and never learned how to say no.
Only a free party can lessen. Preserving this power is essential.
It’s discrepancies between a life of subservience and a life of your own, as Lady Bird Johnson, LBJ’s wife knew and often striven with herself. As Robert Caro wrote, she came to visit John Hicks after he had politely refused her husband’s give, to make him know she respected, even revered his decision. Because she “had recognized other parties make their ten thousand dollars and had attended what happened to them.” But Hicks had escaped, as Socrates had escaped, as the brilliant photographer Bill Cunningham escaped and basically all the people who have done rightfully great work have escaped.
Because if you can’t say no, you’re not potent or free. You’re a slave.
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