Our brains are smarter, and a whole lot trickier, than we might ever suspect. Start thinking about something, say a buying a new black Porsche, and suddenly the world is full of black Porsches. This frequency illusion is part of the phenomenon of confirmation bias, the tendency to surround ourselves with information that reinforces our preexisting beliefs. As fellow blogger and author
The Misconception: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis.
The Truth: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information which confirmed what you believed while ignoring information which challenged your preconceived notions.
After a year of high stress, high wire corporate wrangling I’ve been spending a whole lot of time dealing with the big existential questions like “What should I be when I grow up”. Seriously, do we ever get over asking ourselves that? Or does it just go on forever? Or maybe it’s more like “Now that I don’t have to be such a responsible grown up, what do I really want to do?” So of course every second blog, story and TED Talk that I stumble across seems to be about downsizing and simplifying life, finding out what makes you really happy then just Doing It.
Two weeks of gypsy travel around Baja reignited a long held dream to put my “real” life on hold, get out on the road and not come back for a very long time. Blogs like TinyHousegiantjourney fascinate me. Jenna and Guillaume built their own Tiny House, loaded it on a trailer, packed up what remained of their life and just headed down the highway. I am living vicariously through their travels, every day.
Another similar blog I followed for a long time was BlinkPacking, about living small to travel large, loading all your worldly possessions into a travel trailer and hitting the open road.
What I don’t want to do is keep slaving away in a corporate wasteland, endlessly pursuing the acquisition of more “stuff” that we have been conditioned to think will make us happy. A bigger house, a leased BMW, a pair of shoes for every day of the year (I know someone who thinks this is a worthwhile goal in life – really). LK and I are learning how much we really need, or really don’t need is probably more accurate. And what we are learning, or he is teaching me, is about having time and freedom to do the things you really want to do. And that’s not sitting in an office 12 hours a day, churning out PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheets so some fat cat corporate ladder climber can get fatter and richer. The setting may have changed, but the theory hasn’t. The 18th century factory sweatshop
has been replaced by the Middle Class Sweatshop. As Christoper Fowler puts it so eloquently,
Punishing days, psychotic bosses, unfeasible targets, sleepless nights, zero hour contracts, stress-related illnesses, hours far exceeding statutory regs…welcome to the world of the middle-class sweatshops.
Wageslaves … have no say at all in the decision-making process, are required to answer to bosses they never meet, and are hit with year-on-year rising targets that are simply unfeasible. Their opinions have no value, and they’re afforded no respect. Treated as replaceable units, they’re depressed by their jobs. Their work is stultifying, their pensions are now too low, the chances of a raise unlikely. They’re constantly worried about being able to stay in employment and meet payments. There are hidden currents of ageism and sexism working against them.
As I am fond of quoting to friends, “this isn’t a dress rehearsal, we only get one kick at the can in this life, so we better make it a good one”. When I’m sitting in my rocking chair (on a porch by the beach of course) will I look back and say “damn girl, sure glad I spent my entire life working to buy shoes and purses and flat screen TV’s”. Or will I look back at a richly imagined, well traveled life and say “damn girl, you might not be rich, but it was a heck of a ride”. I know which one I want. I don’t want “work – life balance” – I want a life!
Check out this list of 15 Things You Should Stop Putting Yourself Through by Luminita Saviuc on Truth Theory.
Number 1 – Stop Postponing your happiness for the future. Treasure every moment and remember, time waits for no-one….decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy.
Number 3 – Stop Arguing for your limitations. There are no limits to what we can be, do and have in life, except the ones we choose to impose on ourselves.
Number 6 – Stop Waiting for life to begin. This moment is your life. And if you waste this moment by waiting for your life to begin, then you will waste your whole life.
I’ve had enough and I’ve got enough, I don”t plan on wasting any more time. My lovely daughter is raised, educated and has flown the nest to make her own life. I’ve downsized a couple of times and am slowly but surely giving away or donating all the excess stuff that feels like a weight whose only purpose is to tie me down. Having lived carefully we are blessedly debt free and have minimal responsibilities. Clearly what we need is an exit strategy, because the Road Less Traveled beckons once again. I don’t know if it will be this month or this year, but I’m getting off the treadmill and getting on the merry-go-round of the rest of my life, because girl, time is a’wasting.
I’ve carried around an old book of Robert Frost poems since university, and he put it far more eloquently than I could ever hope to.
“The Road Not Taken”
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Home, it’s wherever I am with you.