A few years ago a good friend bought me a new book for Christmas. Written by Tom Hodginson, “How to be free” is described as a joyful blueprint for modern living, highlighting that consumer society has not led to a widening of freedoms but quite the opposite. In essence we have been sold a lifestyle where GDP continually rises, we spend all we have keeping up with each other and, as we worry about income we still spend, spend, spend. Some people are getting much richer from this, many are getting increasingly anxious though they do have the latest phone.
On first receiving the book I said I found some of it interesting yet rather wishy washy. It seems however, after over two years on the road, living with fewer things and travelling the globe seeing folk with even less that I am now more ready for the messages the book holds. I admit I’m not entirely free of my consumer roots – I still like nice things- but I am ready to adjust a lifestyle to become richer in other ways.
For a number of years I was fortunate to see my salary rise – far from rich but doing ok. However, as earnings increased so too did the quality of food and clothes I bought. I upgraded my home, my holidays and, inevitably, my levels of debt. I was living the dream? At the same time some friends remained static. I questioned their ambition, yet, while their status remained “normal” so too did their stress levels. I wore nice shoes yet went to work while having shingles.
Two years out and my ambitions have changed. I plan to downgrade again with the aim of being mortgage free such that less of my time needs to be filled working for others. Of course, I will need some income. Of course, I may work for others but I hope that in needing less financially, others will need less from me emotionally and physically. I will not be working so much out of hours. I will not be answering email during holidays and days off. I will be giving my best, hopefully doing something I love but still having time and space for me. I’m aware not everyone is in a position to do this. I realise I am fortunate to be able to try but I do believe more folk are able to should they choose.
So look out….I may not talk quite so much about my new shoes, I’ll be on the old style cell phone but I will have a blooming big smile.
Here’s working towards freedom.