When the first Europeans reached North America, they tried to first buy their way in. They asked the native people “how much?” When the tribal leaders replied that “it wasn’t their’s to sell”, the incomers just took it, plundered, pillaged and built over it in the inexorable spread of what would surely be viewed by aliens looking in on us as the most ridiculous idea ever…Capitalism; where the means of procuring the basics of life such as food, water and shelter are controlled by a minority of beings, lording it over the majority. This was so alien to the Native Americans who had no concept of ownership, instead viewing themselves as equals to all of the other organisms and knowing instinctively that they must only take what they need and no more. If you’ve ever visited Sweden or have Swedish friends you will know that they also have this understanding and they call it lagom or just enough.
Now, all over the developed world most land ownership stems from a very similar root…which at best was brutally enforced, assumed ownership and at worst theft, which usually involved violence against and eviction of those who dwelled on the land originally. As a Scot I know all too well what went on. The Highland Clearances were a brutal, inhuman and frankly despicable passage of events in recent British history that are still abhorrent to the majority today, but strangely and unfortunately still very profitable for the few who are descended from the despots who perpetrated the crimes in the first place. Subsequent owners of the land have acquired it through purchase or in many cases, theft, during wars or feuds.
Ownership of the Earth’s crust is impossible…ownership of anything is in fact impossible…given that we’re all going to die; you can’t take it with you as they say!
However, amongst all of this treachery and skullduggery of the past, there is the germ of an idea that we, peaceful freedom seekers can use to our advantage, whilst not being disadvantageous to others. We can be capitalists with a small “c” and still live in perfect harmony with our fellow beings.
At the heart of Capitalism is the accumulation of assets which can then be used to make money and in doing so generate more Capital. This is the essence of how very rich people seem to keep getting richer…in terms of money; which of course shouldn’t be anybody’s default measurement for wealth.
Yesterday we grudgingly agreed that since Capitalism is so embedded in our world we would do well to accept the fact and capitulate to some degree in order to make some money for ourselves in order to grease the wheels of freedom, but instead of stealing the assets needed for Capital growth, we will make our own.
The word living has two distinct meanings, and many nuanced sub meanings in the English language. Just breathing and having a pulse can be described as living, or we can be really living, alive! Alive to the possibilities this wonderful planet affords us.
We can also be subjected to having to make a living. This is when we trade our best days for little bits of paper invented by our Capitalist overlords to keep us safe from freedom ;-).
Making a living then, is simply working, usually for someone else, a Capitalist no less, who uses your time, your life time, in order to make money for himself. The fact that he doesn’t generally use the time he saves wisely, but simply uses it to pursue more profit is of little consequence or comfort.
Few ever consider the alternatives, but you obviously have or you wouldn’t be reading this. Here’s a simple question:
What if you made your life your living (work); instead of making work (living) your life?
Ponder that for a moment.
What would your life look like if you turned this whole thing on its head and lived exactly as you would like to?
That’s right; every morning you’d get up and do whatever takes your fancy?…but still get by, still have enough of everything and be ok for cash when you needed it. Is this even possible? I know it is.
The secret is in generating income from activities you already love. Do what you love and love what you do and the money bit will take care of itself. The trick is to keep your focus on the living and not to let the getting of money ruin your enjoyment of life. Remember lagom. You need just enough.
How might this lifestyle look in the cold light of day?
The essential elements in my ability to live this kind of life are:
- to be be debt free (but don’t switch off or fret if you aren’t there yet).
- to eschew property; try to disconnect yourself from the Capitalist obsession keeping up with the latest stuff.
- to find ways to make cash from your desired lifestyle instead of finding ways to make money to pay for your desired lifestyle (then realising you don’t have time for the desired lifestyle bit;-(. If you’re an artist, musician etc…this should be easy.
- to set up a vehicle for managing income and tax ( a Ltd Company for example) and use it to transact as much of your life’s expenses and incomes as possible. To do this, you need to make legitimate business from your interests; the company just makes it easier and clearly demarcates what is business and what isn’t. Setting this up is very easy so don’t be put off.
- to set up a simple accounting system so you can demonstrate your business activities to the authorities and keep track of what you owe and are owed. This is at it’s simplest is a spreadsheet.
- to stop feeling guilty about being free to do what you want. This bit’s harder than you think…try watching a cult movie DVD at 10am on Tuesday to see what I mean.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at some examples of the above to get you started.
Until then…take it easy!