It's 4:00 a.m. The world is silent (yes, incredibly, at 4:00 a.m. it's even silent in Central America). My kids sleep soundly as I rise for my morning routine at our new house in Panajachel, Guatemala.

It starts with some reading of spiritual literature on my Kindle, and then continues with work.

People are often shocked when they learn I get up at four. Their reaction varies from utter disbelief; to pity - hoping that I won't have to do that for long; to repulsion.

Truthfully? I LOVE getting up at four. I LOVE getting up to work.

Why? Because I get to do work I thoroughly enjoy doing (writing; editing photos and video; creating - this free book is one of my current projects). And I get to do it at a time when I can give it my complete focus, without constant interruption (which is what happens throughout the rest of the day).

The kids rise by 6 ish. We do our morning routine; focus on education; do more work; then as evening approaches we head out to hike the highland hills of this beautiful country where we currently reside.

Not everyone has the privilege of doing work that they love.

As we walk, we pass many people working in the onion fields. They probably got up almost as early as I did today, and their work day isn't yet done. I'm sure they'll work until the sun sets.

Talking to one local man about the concept of doing work that you love, he couldn't quite grasp the idea.

What do you mean, do work that you love? Work is work. You do it to survive, to eat. What's to love about it? What choice do you have? What else would you do?

That's their life. They rise early each day, and work until dark, just so their family has enough to eat, and maybe extra to send their kids to school, or buy clothes.

You and I, we're not like these people.

Don't get me wrong, we're in no way BETTER than these people, but we most certainly have more opportunities.

In the developing world, we have terms like lifestyle designlocation independence and living on purpose.

They're concepts and paradigms that are unique to certain cultures. They're ideas that demonstrate that as a society, we no longer have to work just to survive. We can choose to do work that is fulfilling. Work that uses our God-given talents, and helps to make the world a better place.

"But wait a second," you say. "I am doing work just to survive. I'm not doing work that I enjoy. I'm working just to pay the bills."

Yes, that may be right. Perhaps you are just working to 'survive'. But the extent of your 'survival' is on a different level. And can you at least understand the concept of doing work that you love? If so, you're ahead of the game.

If you're reading this, on a computer, that is connected to the internet, then you have a bazillion more options available to you than a person who only has a vague idea of what the internet is - or has never even heard of it.

If you can understand the THEORY of 'doing work that you love,' then perhaps you have a God given responsibility to actually DO WORK THAT YOU LOVE.
Why else would you be able to understand the idea, if you weren't meant to do something with it?

For the people who live in these hills and work in these fields, the world has been very much the same for generations.

They live a simple life. They plant their onions, they harvest their onions, they plant them again. Every day is pretty much the same. They haven't traveled much outside the area surrounding their village (only as far as they can walk). Things will probably go on very much the same for years to come.

But for others, the world is changing. We've entered the information age. The connection age. The age of possibility and opportunity, like none other we've seen before.

For those of us who are reading new ideas on a computer screen, in a house that is temperature controlled and has electricity and running water, we have a great responsibility.

If you don't have to get up in the morning and gather firewood to cook your meal, or to warm your house, then you live in a world where new notions are available to you; where information is at your fingertips; where circumstances can be yours to mold to your liking.

The simplicity of these peoples lives is beautiful, and so are they.

Our lives, our possibilities, our privileges are not the same. They are far, far greater.

And they're not the same as they used to be 50 years ago. Our world is changing at an incredible pace. The formula is changing.

It is no longer: go to school -> get good grades -> pass the tests -> get a degree -> secure a career -> work until you're 65 -> retire -> do what you love.

The new formula has many unique variations, but it can look like this:

Don't go to school -> pursue your passions and interests -> discover your craft -> be mentored toward greatness -> make a contribution by singing your song -> leave a legacy.

If you can even fathom that concept, then it's your duty to do something about it. It's your privilege to LIVE DELIBERATELY.

Greg in his element.

The wind picks up, the temperature drops, the sun starts to set and we head back home. But these people are still hard at work, watering, planting, cultivating. The entire family works hard together toward a common goal: survival.

This lifestyle produces many favorable outcomes. Families are tight knit. The people know how to work hard and are very tough. Communities look out for each other. People work together. They're more generous. They're contented and happy. In many ways their lives are superior to the fast paced, achievement oriented societies of developing countries.

And their lives are very much needed. The world goes round because there are all types. There's farmers and builders and writers and garbage men. Everyone of them is needed.

But where more opportunity is given, more is possibe.

I'm not a beggar in Belize or an onion farmer in Guatemala. I'm not afforded that blissful simplicity.

The question is, what am I going to do about it?

The kids warm themselves by a brush fire along the trail.

Aaliyah did 3/4 of the hike barefoot, after deciding her shoes were too small.

Big onions, medium onions, small onions

I can tell you what I'm NOT going to do.

I'm not going to spend my life doing something I hate. I'm not going to waste my years wishing for 'someday'.  I'm not going to exchange my life energy to pay the bills, just to get up and do it again the next day.

I AM going to live simply, blissfully, peacefully. I'm going to find away to make my passion profitable, to do work that I love, to find a way to make the world a better place by contributing in a way that only I can.

It's the least that I can do.

We had to buy some onions to take home for dinner. It doesn't get much more 'locally grown' than this.

What will you do with your privileges?



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26 Responses

  1. Lisa-Marie

    Brilliant post Rachel. I think everyone should read this and think long and hard about their lives. On the last day of Seth Godin’s Medicine Ball he told us that the world was leaving us with 6 words, “We Need You To Lead Us” the world was saying that because the world is afraid and we (the group at the Ball) are not. Thank you for not being afraid. Thank you for leading us!

  2. Lisa

    Love that you guys are staying a while in this community. I often wonder what it would be like to live in that sort of paradigm… not that I’ll ever REALLY know, since I have been born and raised in such a different one. Sometimes I wonder if I would actually like it better, despite the hard work and hardship. There is something so beautiful and fulfilling about living close to the earth and close to your family and neighbors.

    • Lisa

      I often dream about running off and attempting to assimilate into a community like that – not that it would be easy. But even just to spend time there must be lovely.

    • Rachel

      I wonder the same thing. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I could do it for awhile, but not for my whole life. There are certain conveniences that I already know about that I would miss too much. Showers being one of them. Hot water. Running water for that matter. We’ve lived without them a time or two on the road, and they add so much luxury to life. 🙂

      • tereza crump aka MyTreasuredCreations


        “Running water adds so much luxury to life.” – so true!

        While as a missionary on the road, I learned to just do with “water”. Sometimes even a cold shower in freezing weather was heaven. Just to feel that water running down my head, even if it was numbing my scalp.

        Sometimes a bucket of water was heaven in the midst of a dry, dusty place. Sometimes a faucet was enough to bring comfort when I hadn’t showered in days.

        So funny how we can adjust our luxuries. 🙂

  3. Kate

    Seriously great post. I almost wish for more simplicity, not having a bazillion choices. But then I am also grateful for those choices.

    Love the last picture – priceless!

      • Kate

        Hey Rachel – I couldn’t stop thinking about this post last night. The words, but also the pictures and the world you captured. As a fellow blogger I know how much work goes into every post and I just felt that I should revisit this one and let you know that it made me think ALOT. I appreciate the time and the thought that you put into this and I just wanted to thank you for that as well as the inspiration. This type of post is the reason I love blogs.

  4. disney scooter rentals

    I love your explanation of “DO THE WORK YOU LOVE”. You have hit the bulls eye and I will share this to all my friends to read. I felt it deep in my heart and I am teary eyes reading it. The pictures complemented it. 5 stars


  5. Heidi

    You’re right, it’s such a privilege to be able to even choose what we do for a living. And yet we lament this privilege. I myself have often griped about how hard it is to be faced with so many choices and wished for a simpler life. The truth is, wouldn’t anyone rather be in a position to CHOOSE a simple life than just to be born into it? We are so fortunate, we can’t waste such a privilege! Great words of wisdom – thank you!

  6. Darin

    Great thoughts on how much opportunity we have been given, and not letting life just happen to you. Your family has been a great inspiration to me, on my own journey. I have enjoyed reading and learning from both of your websites. I’m currently in Belize and headed to Tikal in the morning!

  7. Christina @ Interest-Led Learning

    Your pictures are absolutely beautiful! It’s a country that I’d really love to see. We’re planning on a short trip to Costa Rica the beginning of next year.

    I’m totally agreeing with your statement that if we are blessed to have so many opportunities, it’s our responsiblity to take advantage of them. I’m so glad I can live and learn with my kids every day and work on writing for my site and starting an e-book. My life today looks so much different than it did six years ago.

    • Rachel

      That’s so great, good job for taking steps toward making your life the way you want it to be.

      Hope you’re doing well!

  8. Jorge

    I like how you show the way you see what people can do with oportunitis


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