I don't like people, especially my own family members, treating my life and the decisions I make for myself with such disdain. I am a simple man. I live by simple means, have simple desires and do simple things. I am a simple man in a complex world.

I know what I am not. I am not a leader. I am not a follower. I am not a great man. I am not going to write the Great American Novel. I am not going to change the world in any significant way. Nor do I want to.

I called my brother tonight to see if he might need an extra hand at his framing shop. A friend of mine wants to be a framer and I figured that Jim may need or could use some help at the business he owns. I was not looking for a handout or anything like that. I don't contact my family much. Somehow I must get it through their thick skulls that I am an independent person and that to not hear from me is good news. If I am calling for personal reasons other than a plainly-stated "just catching up", then I am doing so in desperate need of assistance and I have exhausted every other means that I know. My family I turn to as a last resort. It's not that I don't love them; I do. I just would rather not bother them with... my simplicity.

I know that Mom, Dad, brothers and sister had high hopes for me, that they recognized a sort of awareness within me that they lack, that I could use whatever it is that makes me "me" to an exploitative advantage. I know that they feel a certain amount of disappointment when I report, "Still the same on this end. No change here. Still enjoying my simple life." They wanted more for me. Luckily they weren't so arrogant to think that they could heap it upon me, but I can definitely sense the let-down they feel whenever I am around them, like I have somehow cheated them of carrying on a family legacy that isn't really mine.

They're my family, but I have no blood ties to them. I love them dearly, but it is a love borne out of respect and appreciation for their care when I was a child. I am an adult now, more alone in this world than ever before. I am beholden to no one and I like it that way.

Someone just last week asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" It was a rhetorical question; I'm twenty-eight years of age now. Doubtless I will change slightly in my future years, but I am, for the most part, "grown up."

I didn't miss a beat when they asked me that absurd question, though. "I'm doing it now," I answered. "I am my own master and I answer to no one. I do what I want, when I want, how I want and no one can stop me short of the law. I don't break any rules, so I fall beneath the radar of any busy-body authority figures. I mind my own business and do whatever I am moved to do with no impediment whatsoever. What more could I want?"

The person who asked me the question stared at me, mouth agape, as she realized the utter, simple truth of my answer. "Remind me never to ask you that again. Makes me jealous."

I'm not rich. I don't have any aspirations to be rich. I personally believe that the more money a person has, the more headaches they inherit. Keeping track if this bill, that payment, such-and-such account, taxes, accountants, banks, mortgages, investments, stocks, bonds... the whole mess is best left to people who want that kind of complication. I prefer cash, on the table and the knowledge that I've earned it honestly. Beyond that... thpppppt!

Anyway, when I called my brother, he immediately started giving me the third degree about why I haven't poked around my family's neck of the woods lately, as though I am obliged to. I suppose, in a sense, I am, but not unnecessarily. Like I said, I live a simple life and nothing much changes about me. If something changes, for better or for worse, then I'll let them know. Until or unless that happens, why bother calling at regular intervals to apprise them of... nothing new? Waste of time, if you ask me. If I don't call, take it for granted that I'm okay. I mentioned that the trip would put an undue strain on my car right now, that it's not behaving properly. He urged me to buy a new one.

"With what?" I asked. "I have no credit and no money with which to pay for a new car. And I certainly don't have the income to make the required regular payments. I'm living within my means. Buying a new car would outstrip that."

His reply was curt and clipped. "Brother, if you want some good advice on how to change that, give me a call. I can tell you all kinds of things you can do to get a new car and a better job."

"I know them all, Jim," I answered. "I'm just not ready to do that. It's not my bag... yet." I do try to keep my options open in life, y'know?

"Yeah, well, call me if you ever do. Sorry I can't help you with your friend. I hired a girl last month and she's working out really well and I don't have the resources to take on someone new."

"That's okay, bro. No biggie. Just thought I'd ask."

"Well... I have to get back to work. Don't be a stranger." And he hung up.

It really pissed me off. He had, essentially, made it clear that he doesn't approve of my lifestyle, that I am somehow incapable of living my life at adequate standards and should be doing more. Who is he to judge, brother or not?

I am content with myself for the first time in years. I am free to do as I please. Why would I want to complicate my life further than is necessary? I have no wife, no kids to look after or take care of. All I have to provide for is myself. I am relatively well-liked by those around me, I have the nobility and respect of my peers, which is something I have strived for all my life. Why fix what ain't broke?

Keep it simple. I came into this world with nothing. By that same token, I intend to walk out of it with nothing. I mean, what good is a large sum of money gonna do me when I'm dead who-knows-how-many years from now? Nothing. In with nothing; out with nothing. If I have nothing amassed, then I have nothing to lose. And none of it is really mine anyway. When I'm gone, it'll all fall to someone else's hands. It's just temporary crap, when you get right down to it. I spend my time making my mind, body and spirit better and stronger. I learn deeply about the things that interest me. I grow and develop. Money is a tool, but I will not allow myself to become a slave to it.

After more than 28 years of living you'd think that someone in my family would get that, that they would understand that about me. I am not interested in leaving a legacy behind me that can dissipate. My actions in this world will be my adorning in the next, not my fortunes.

Bah! It sucks to be judged by other people. It hurts when it's your own brother who is doing the judging, even if he is your half-brother. I guess I'm just feeling alone now, more than ever.