The Freedom Experiment: Part 1

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Personal Freedom



(This post was originally written on 8/13/2018 and serves as a preface to the recent events that make up the bulk of The Freedom Experiment.)

Very few of us live in an actual state of freedom. What does it really mean to be free? The traditional answer is probably something along the lines of, “I’m not in some sort of prison, and I’m free to go to work, and to ball games, and bars, and parties.” But are you truly free? Can you decide to leave town and go to Vegas tomorrow? Or Rome, or Dubai? A more basic example is, can you wake up whenever you want and do whatever you want to do on any given day? I imagine for most people, the answer is probably a resounding no. And so I decided to conduct an experiment.

At the beginning of this year, I lived a life of constant work and partying with very little time for food or sleep. I had big ideas and I successfully gave the impression that I was indeed building many great things. Internally, however, I was lost and suffering. The level of stress associated with working 5 or so jobs and working on 3 additional projects, for 15 or more hours a day, and for months at a time is pretty intense, to say the least.

I had been looking forward to my mid-May trip home which meant a week away from the madness. It was my baby sister’s college graduation, my father’s birthday, and also Mother’s Day; three birds stoned at once. The trip was relaxing, perhaps too much so. I woke up every morning to a delicious breakfast with coffee made by my mother, who also happens to be the best chef on Earth. I began my day by doing an hour of yoga, writing music for a time, pretending I was good at basketball on the court in the yard, taking a dip in the pool, and then working on whatever project that interested me at that moment. It was sheer bliss.

Upon my return to Scottsdale, I found myself in a very different state of being. I no longer cared to work the strenuous schedule that I had been enduring with the help of a personal assistant that I had hired. Instead, I wanted to pursue my passions. Thirty thousand feet over the desert, I contemplated my options. It was during this flight back to Sky Harbor that I decided to run an experiment. I was going to live life freely and do whatever I pleased to see if it was possible. I was no longer going to go into an office at a specified time; but rather, I would simply live life on whatever schedule I wanted.

It was amazing for a while. I lived without hindrance and I partied to excess. Life was golden, and then I went broke. I sustained the lifestyle for several months due to the fact that I had been fortunate enough to fall into a situation where my only vital expense was rent which was, and I’m not kidding,  just over $300 a month. One day of work building a set for Comic-Con San Diego was enough to cover my vital expenditures. I also had one reliable client remaining in my marketing business, which I had intentionally scaled down. Additionally, I was doing party bike tours of Scottsdale bars on occasion which provided more than enough cash and opportunity to live the Old Town lifestyle to the fullest.

I no longer worked a “job” in the traditional sense, but I did know how to find sources of income to survive. I’d be lying if I said that my time during the majority of this experiment wasn’t one of the most exciting phases in my life; however, it was not without its downfalls. For one, my Jeep had been repossessed because I hadn’t paid the bill in several months. To be honest, I hadn’t driven it in months and every time I laid sight of the vehicle, I instantly found myself in a less-than-ideal emotional state. When it was finally taken away, I felt like the clouds had parted. On the other hand, I was fully aware of the financial consequences of this event, particularly the imminent massive hit to my credit score; and I was not too thrilled with that realization.

Also, I found that I was losing my ambition. I used to get up every morning with the idea that I was going to make something happen on that day. I was naturally motivated at all times and fueled by thoughts of driving my new Porsche 911 Cabriolet 4S up Invergordon towards Camelback Mountain to my castle. An interesting thing happens when you realize that it is indeed possible to live outside of the normal paradigm of working constantly and for someone else, a state of unwarranted contentment.

As a young ambitious fellow, I see becoming content in a particular position in life as among the worst-case scenarios possible. Consequently, I strive to live life in a constant state of wanting. Whether it is the wanting of physical things, a particular lifestyle, or the perfect relationship, I believe it is always best to chase some goal or dream. For this reason, I began to see my experiment as a failure. Sure I was living freely, but at what cost? My bank account was in the negative and I was unable to participate in the various exciting experiences that I had grown accustomed to when I was unhappily content with my life of constant working.

And so, what is left to do in this scenario but return to the former life that, while far from perfect, did equate to a slightly higher standard of living? Existential stress turns to work-related stress, and free time is converted into invisible credits in a banking system, but the cash flow opens up accessibility to potentially greater experiences.

Fast-forward to this point in time, and I’m updating my resume with the activities of the past six months of my life. It is not an unimpressive list of accomplishments, the main one being the creation and successful launch of the local happy hour app, Happy Hour AZ. As of last week, I’ve applied for many jobs and gotten a handful of offers; yet, I am no longer sure of what it is that I want to do.

In my eyes, this experiment was far from a failure. I learned that I can live a life of ultimate freedom if I so choose, but I can also easily find a job working for someone else’s dreams. The crux of my internal struggle is based on finding balance. Organized work is good for me because it gives me a reason to get up in the morning, but freedom is also necessary as it tends to lead to fun experiences, as well as, creative nights to myself.

I’m not entirely sure what comes next in my life but I do feel prepared for any outcome. I know that I can get a good job if I need to and I know that I can survive without one. I suppose the only thing left for me is to figure out what it is that I actually want to do. I don’t expect this to be an easy task, but at least my experiment has put me in a position to weather the ups and downs of this rollercoaster lifestyle.


One evening, after a week of indecision, interviews, drunken nights, and hungover mornings, I got an unexpected call from a friend. “Hey man, are you free for the next week?” “Well yeah, I suppose so,” I responded. Eight hours later, I was on my way to northern Nevada for what I would soon find out was a week of working on a secluded ranch on a giant pyramid and living quarters for Burning Man.

Stan Collins

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