Today I’ve been thinking about money, work, freedom and being idle.
The preachers of Capitalism have made “idle” a dirty word and they promise us that if we work hard, we will get well paid and have freedom to do what we want; in other words money=freedom.
Well, if you want to get by in anything like comfort there is no denying that you need to have some cash; but no where near as much as some people would have you believe.
The conundrum for me is the work bit. I worked for a large part of my life up to now. By the way I call anything that you do in order for someone else to provide you with a fixed wage…work.
Stuff that is variable, that you enjoy, that you would do for free, that you dictate the pace of, that isn’t goal driven, that you decide when and how to do, that you are in total control of is art; enjoyment not work.
So, the norm would argue that we work, get paid, be free. It can’t happen if the work in question isn’t your art; the thing you would do for free.
I consider everything I spend time on these days as non-work, even the stuff I do to make money; if this makes me idle, then I love being idle, I am a complete and utter idler and if you are to, then please don’t let anybody make you feel ashamed of it. Even the King of idling, Tom Hodgkinson has come round to this way of thinking. Last year’s Idler is all about creating and sustaining your idleness through micro enterprise.
One other difficulty I have with the accepted norm of work is the myth that it provides security; well all I do is my own work i.e. my art, my stuff I would do for free and I know exactly where I stand in terms of what is and what isn’t in my bank account.
If I got up at 7 every morning and trudged down to the widget factory or the widget design office or the widget supermegastore to work my 40 hours a week; the time I find out that Mr Widget doesn’t have enough money left to pay my wages is… on wages day, I am therefore screwed. And recently there have been some major big Mr Widgets going belly up.
This leads me to the next of the countless problems with work in the traditional sense and that is security; there is no financial security in hoping that Mr Widget is doing ok for another month.
The paradox of this job=security thing is that many many wage dependent people are exactly that; dependent on the next wage; they have left themselves no wriggle room, they are one wage away from the edge for their entire working lives.
Oh yeh, that term “working life”, basically means from 16-65, or it did up until recently when they discovered that we were all mostly living longer these days.
Here in Europe, they are fiddling with this already, putting up the retirement age to 70 and beyond over the next few decades. When they set it at 65, it was because life expectancy was 70! Yeh, if you’ve been saving up your good times for retirement, stop immediately and start having the good times today.