By the current measures of how we keep time in these parts, the earth, that’s that big round thing you are standing on, has completed another revolution around the sun, that big bright yellow hot thing up in the sky. Considering the earth is a couple billion years old or so, a year is but a small bit in the big picture, but for us humans, it’s how we measure the age of things and sort out all the stuff that happens. Otherwise everything would happen at once and it would be a big mess.
So, as we all do at the beginning of the new year, we make resolutions, promises, or otherwise use this time period to make changes in our lives. Lose weight, stop a bad habit, whatever. Sometimes those resolutions stick, many times, they do not. No matter. We keep on going and head into another year full of hope and dreams, only to have it all shattered by those who don’t see life for what it is.
Our current society is very complicated. Gone are the days of foraging for food just to stay alive. We live in a land of plenty but at a huge cost. We have created a society that is so complex and convoluted that few people can figger out all the ins and outs. Our system of laws is beyond comprehension. You can become a criminal by simply doing the most innocuous thing, and by the same token, become a criminal for not doing something. Laws are passed without thought of the long term consequences. Most are passed to either favor one group of people over another, or to simply show who the masters are. And then there is the over riding desire to acquire wealth.
Wealth is the ultimate goal these days. Wealth means power, control, comfort, and joy. Wealth means you are better than those with less. Wealth means you are successful. Wealth is the standard by which we judge others. And the whole system sucks.
Unfortunately, it’s the system we have, have had for a long time, and nothing short of a major disaster is going to change it. So, you have two choices, the way I see it in my narrow view of things. Work within the system, play the game, do your best, hope to acquire as much wealth as possible through hard work, dedication, and blind obedience to those above you. Or work around the system. You can guess which way I am going.
I wasted, yes wasted, 30 years playing the game. I worked, I tried to save money, I bought all that which was what I was educated to buy. The house, the cars, the toys. I fell for the American Dream hook, line, and sinker. I firmly believed that if I worked hard enough and long enough, wealth, and comfort, and all those things they promise on the tv, would be mine. But it wasn’t happening. The longer I worked, the more I saw how far the tables were tilted in the other direction. The more money I made, the more debt I seemed to incur. The more I did at work, the more was expected of me. No matter how well I did anything, it was never enough. The carrot was dangled just out of reach to keep me going, thinking at some point I would reach some sort of plateau where I would have all the wealth I desired and life would be good.
But somewhere along the way, not sure when or where, I started to realize how much bullshit was being thrown my way. I looked at what I was doing, working retail, and realizing just how worthless my job was. I wasn’t improving my lot in life, sure as hell wasn’t learning anything, other than blind obedience to the corporation, which didn’t stick. I wasn’t helping others. I am positive I wasn’t inspiring anybody. I was going no place. Changes had to be made, and they were.
If you were to look at me now, my crappy little boat, my tiny bank account, my few belongings that can fit into a backpack, you would probably call me a failure. Go ahead, I have been called much worse. But, I am living on a sailboat in Key West. I have my own little business, it doesn’t pay much but then, I don’t need much. I do not punch a time clock. I have no schedule. Hell, I’ve lost track of the days of the week on a couple of occasions, or maybe that’s because of the head bangings I took on the bicycle. No matter, I consider myself to be more successful now than at any other time in my life.
I taught myself,
let me emphasize that,
I TAUGHT MYSELF,
how to code apps, how to build websites, write and publish a book, write a blog, and a ton of other things over the years. I shut out anyone who would shout me down and tell me I could not do something. Those who would tell me, “No, you can’t do that. You are not smart enough.”, are meaningless to me. I failed at a lot of things. So what, we all do. But I succeeded at quite a few too. Had I listened to the naysayers, had I obeyed my “superiors”, I would still be standing behind a parts counter wondering what the hell went wrong.
I have nothing for retirement. I have no insurance, no one to look after me should illness or injury befall me. I have no loved ones, other than a few older relatives. I could lose my happy little floating home at anytime. Yet I have never been as happy and content, and optimistic about the future as I am now. I don’t know how to explain it, well, yes I do. Minimalism for starters. A total disregard for the status quo. A refusal to bend over for those who believe they are better. I have more freedom now than I ever had. Living off the grid so to speak, outside the lines, away from the hive. The only regret I have is that I didn’t do it sooner. But the past is the past. The future is something I have more control over.
Fritters, if you want some advice from this sorry old wannabe pirate, something to spur you on to more better things, something to get your new year off to good start, then here goes:
If you are doing something you love, if you are raising a family, helping others, advancing the knowledge and wisdom of the human race in some sort of way, then keep it up. But…
If you are working in mindless drudgery, standing behind a retail counter, serving up burgers and fries, or hidden away in some maze of cubicles doing nothing but filling out reports and forms…stop it. Stop it right now. You are better than this. There are better things for you out there. All you gotta do is find them. Nobody remembers that inventory you did let year. Nobody cares that you sold $1000 worth of junk one day. No matter what your manager says, those reports are meaningless in the big picture. Get out of the hive and start becoming self reliant. Learn new skills, think outside of the damn box. Travel and explore. And please don’t fall back on the that tired excuse that you need the money. You will always need money. The trick is to adapt your lifestyle so you need less money. (And by the way, if you are on the verge of qualifying for something called a pension, stick with the drudgery for a little while longer. No sense in being stupid about this.)
If you need a starting point, you already have it in your grubby little paws…technology. Technology enabled me to break free of the bonds of servitude. It’s complicated, it’s always changing, and it is the most important thing the human race has invented since that round thing that vehicles use to move on. Embrace technology and use it to your advantage. If you spend your evenings watching tv, stop it. Get rid of the tv and go online. Nearly all of the knowledge of the human race is at your fingertips, just a few clicks away. Go take a look and see what you can find. Use that knowledge to better yourself and your life.
Life is not meant to be lived paycheck to paycheck. Your day should never be defined by a time card. 8 to 5 with two 15 minute breaks and a ½ hour lunch will not make you wealthy. Life is out there, it cannot be bought at a store and it should not ever be wasted in some meaningless go nowhere worker bee job that accomplishes nothing except to eat up your time. Stop living that way. You are better than this.
Get rid of the debt, downsize to a comfortable level, and start exploring. You will be amazed at what is out there in the real world.