Buddy Lane was a project manager for a residential construction company in the Dallas Metroplex. Every few years he would build a house for himself, sell it after the short-term capital gains period, invest the profit, and build another. “I was living in a 4800 square foot house, fully furnished, with four bedrooms that never got slept in and a media room where I’d never watched a movie. I was single. I have no kids. I was in the car four to five hours a day between job sites. I spent my life looking at the red lights of the traffic in front of me.”
Buddy gave notice at his firm, bought a pop-top camper, filled it with tools, and travelled the US. He did odd jobs. He began singing and playing guitar in earnest. “I showed up in a town, asked whether a local restaurant wanted some live music, and I played.” Soon, he had friends in many states and lingered in favorite haunts, particularly Groveland CA, on the eastern side of Yosemite’s Tioga Pass. “We are nation of people nothing like you see on TV. We are good and kind.”
Eventually Buddy returned to Dallas and project management, but he got rid of his TV and never let the work world own him again. Now, at age 53, he’s engaged to Barb, a kindred free spirit. They own a townhouse in Euless, but spend much of their time travelling, sometimes alone, sometimes together.
I met Buddy along the road to La Veta pass on a very windy day. He was in the middle of a work hiatus to help his future brother-in-law build a house in Boulder and make some improvements on land he and Barb had purchased near Spanish Peaks. “In January I’ll go get another job. I figure I’ve got five to seven years of work left before I retire completely.” I doubt traditional employment will satisfy him that long.
Buddy studied marital arts and became a black belt in four different varieties, training he credits for his patience and positive outlook. “You perfect certain moves, they get more complicated the further you progress, but the basic moves are the ones you come back to again and again. I use my training every day. Martial Arts is ninety-five percent mental. Since getting involved in marital arts I have never failed at anything.”
Buddy has a large extended family: three older sisters, nine nieces and nephews, more grand nieces and nephews, and even a couple of great-grands. He wants to demonstrate to them how rich life can be beyond the strictures of work and debt. “Whenever one of them graduates from high school, I give them a copy of The Richest Man in Babylon. I read it over myself again as well.” Buddy’s also working on a book, just for his family, which he calls Future Generations. “I want them to know about my grandfather, how he lived his life, and how I developed my own philosophies. I want them to know that when they leap, the parachute will appear.”
On a day when nature conspired against my bicycle and I making any progress, I stuck out my thumb and Buddy appeared, like a parachute that drove me to safety. We each took a chance and in the process, met an interesting guy.
How will we live tomorrow?
“Pretty simple: on my own terms. You only have so much time on this earth; not enough to be miserable.”