A Glimpse of Otium: Bread and Pasta

Here you can see the crispy, wonderful smelling Franziskaner-loaf and rye whole-grain tin loaf all baked by Franziskaner bakery in Bozen (Italy)

I’m still in the phase of life where I’m working a full-time job. However, even now, from time to time I experience moments that call to mind my ideal life. Not coincidentally, these moments tend to occur in the interstices of life, during evenings or weekends when I’m not doing work related to my office job.

Yet, although these moments are infrequent and not yet a regular part of my days, they provide a glimpse of what living a life of otium could look like. By examining enough of these moments, I hope to tease out common themes, so I can seek pursuits that satisfy the same impulses or inspire me in similar ways.

Avoiding Going the Wrong Way

Wrong Way Sign

I recently received an email from someone looking to hire the head attorney for an early-stage company. Normally, I wouldn’t give headhunter emails much thought, but this email came from the experienced CEO of a fast-growing startup that’s backed by an impressive list of investors. I ended up politely declining the job opportunity, but it prompted a thought exercise to help clarify the direction I want to move toward.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Otium, Part 2

In Part 1, I previously wrote about self-explanatory, easily describable things that I want more, less and none of in life (such as more free time and less looking at a screen). In Part 2, I explore more abstract ideas, concepts and goals. These seem more subjective or harder to pin down, but get to the heart of what I’m looking for in life.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Otium, Part 1

I’m still figuring out what living my best life means. That said, I feel like I know enough to know that I’m not currently living it. That’s because tomorrow, like today, I will go to work and spend most of my day thinking or doing things only because someone pays me to.

Don’t get me wrong — there’s a lot that I like and appreciate about my job, and I’m not always actively looking to quit. But, I’m pursuing otium, which is more than just a “tolerable” existence. To help, I’m writing down some thoughts about what living my best life and otium might look like in practice, so I can actually live it.

Below the Surface

Frog lies below the surface of water

When I started this blog, I often actively thought about quitting my job, although I continue to put off acting on that urge. However, occasionally — like now — the urge to quit subsides. Like the sun when it’s hidden behind clouds or a creature who lies below the surface of water, the desire to quit is still there, even if it’s not totally visible or I don’t feel its presence as strongly.

Should I Quit Now or Later?

Woman confidently walks down an office hallway, holding a box with her belongings, after she quits

These days, I often think about how much longer I should (and can) stay at my current job. Staying would certainly help my goal of pursuing otium and financial independence. But at what cost? Is financial independence worth sticking it out for a few more years, or should I embrace the unknown, to pursue my best life sooner?

Hello FIRE, My Old Friend

A group of people roasting marshmallows around a campfire

I first heard about the term FIRE, in reference to the Financially Independent, Retiring Early (or Financial Independence, Retire Early) community, about one year ago. Discovering that community was like finding long-lost family that I hadn’t known existed.

Recognizing Water, Part 1

One yellow fish passing by two green fish by Dr. Seuss

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?” -David Foster Wallace

The Last Days of Negotium

A villa with a fountain and statues of the founding of Rome in Tivoli, Italy

The title of this blog is inspired by an idea from the ancient Greeks and Romans two millenia ago. Namely, that the desired state of humanity is otium, a Latin word that refers to “leisure” time or, more precisely, being in control of one’s own time. While the concept of otium comes from a bygone era, it remains very relevant today.