Working or Living for Freedom?
“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”
-Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes
I like to think Calvin never grew up, finished school, got a job and became a typical adult. Instead, Calvin was Peter Pan for my generation. He had amazing adventures every moment of his day, much to the chagrin of his parents. The only reasonable voice in Calvin’s life was Hobbes, who prevented even worse disaster from befalling the pairs daily life.
Of course Calvin never grew up. He is a fictional character in a cartoon strip. Conjured out of Bill Watterson’s imagination, Calvin’s life is an existence of fantasy. His philosophy is naive, full of simple ideas which provide the quickest route to having a good time. Unfortunately, even children today don’t have this kind of idyllic life. Not to mention what happens when we all finally grow up.
If you have ever read the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, it is easy to understand the formula for how to life well and have fun. No expensive equipment is required. Basic clothes that Calvin’s mother insists on. No designer labels, Hobbes likes Calvin just as he is. The locations are limited to the areas that Calvin can walk to. Expensive vacations are not required. Calvin’s not bothered with money, everything he needs is readily available. What keeps him going is his ability to think up wild and wonderful ideas and then act on them.
“It is better to live rich than to die rich.”
If we all started out as children with varying amounts of Calvin in us, what happened along the way? How did we become so dependent on the need to accumulate money? Of course we don’t have our parents providing for our basic needs anymore, but how did we fall into the trappings of being a normal adult? At what point did imagination, creativity and making something out of nothing go by the wayside?
Once we got through school, it seems we accepted the lie that buying material items was a good thing and more than a necessity. Some even go so far as to believe that the accumulation of stuff will make us happy. Particularly when, ‘if – then’ is at play. ‘If’ I get the next promotion, ‘then’ I will be happy. That kind of thinking is most often not true at best and devastatingly disappointing at worst.
Not everyone works hard to make money, only to spend it all on consumer goods. Lots of people are very good savers. Putting aside a portion of annual earnings for retirement is a sound financial practice. But what happens when the rate of that investment keeps us working well into our sixties and even seventies or longer? How many good retirement years will we really have left? Depending on how kind we were to ourselves during our working years, we might not be in such good physical or mental shape once old age is upon us.
All of this is to say that life at retirement is unpredictable. It is hard to know for sure what our health will be or even how long we will live. There are sad stories of people who have worked very hard until retirement age and then passed away only a few years later. They gambled that they would live longer. Even more seniors who are living longer lives than ever before, are not always as healthy as they would have liked to be.
What is the solution? For me, it is to live a life I don’t need a vacation from, first. I am in complete control of how I manage my daily stressors. It is my responsibility to always be in the work of self-care and making lifestyle adjustments when my body tells me I need to. Part of this is listening to my inner Calvin every once in a while.
I also reject the modern idea of working at the same pace until I am a qualified senior citizen, hoping that I have enough life left to enjoy. My year of travelling showed me that I can always make more money, but I can’t make more life. Therefore I am redesigning what work looks like for me. It is essential to have a healthy attitude towards the institution and the people I surround myself with. Then I need to keep my expenses below my income. Sounds simple, but has proven to be difficult in the past.
“Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five I still had pimples.”
I want to be involved with people and projects which fill me up with creative energy. If the situation I find myself in is taking more from me than it is giving me, then I know it is time to adjust. Either my attitude has to change or it is time to hit the road and find something else. But when I feel that my efforts are being appreciated and the pace is not too strenuous, I could practice working for a very long time.
My work projects may not always provide a paycheque. It is important to have the ability to give back to causes of importance, along the way. Not to mention, it is fun to help people, as it feels good. If more people could find a way to be generous, even with very small gestures, the world would be a different place.
“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”
I took an 18-month break from the rat race. In so doing, I realized that I couldn’t go back to it. Not in the same way. I was never going to be able to win. I’m just not built for it. I had sacrificed too much trying to be the best and I still didn’t get what I thought I wanted or deserved. During my time away, I realized that I much preferred the slow and meandering path, to the race. I’ll never be a rat again.
I’m not alone. There is a movement towards minimalism where some people are not only living in less space, but taking their tiny homes, RV’s or cars and going off grid completely. Their living expenses are next to nothing, compared to most of us. Yet, they enjoy their life in the fullest expression possible. Who are we to judge?
If you enjoyed the documentary, check out the book of poems by Randy Vining at Blurb.
It is thanks to the positive power of social media that videos like these are being created and distributed for free. What an amazing time to be alive. Never in history has it been so easy and comfortable to create an alternative lifestyle. The barriers to entry are non-existent. If you can dream, you can do it.
If you are thinking of doing things differently, maybe you would like to join us. Head over to CreaSpaTreat 2019 at eventbrite and get your ticket. Share freely with friends and family who might also be interested in this kind of experience. Sign up to the Daily Creatives mailing list for updates on the road to CreaSpaTreat.
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