You won’t have to look far to find millions of “helpful” blog posts and newspaper articles this week about making new year resolutions…
The rat race world is obsessed with personal improvement, goal setting and striving, which is all mainly about getting you to keep your nose to the grindstone and to keep buying new stuff.
My low key involvement with Buddhism teaches me that none of the above is real…we are all already perfect in every way, we already have everything we need to live a fulfilled and happy life and, above all, goal setting and striving forces us to live in the future; and as Bruce Springsteen says “(if) we’re living in the future, and none of this has happened yet!” (mindless paraphrasing…Bruce’s job is safe for now;-)
New Year resolutions are made when we aren’t happy with our current situation and that might well be true for you right now, but instead of resolving to do something about it…just start; you already have everything you need to do just that and of course you already know that there is no need to wait until the 1st day of January to start doing what you want to do, but we are where we are so let’s work with that.
I created Restless Peasant to plot my progress and record my thoughts on living well and particularly about how to achieve real freedom. Based on that, there are a few key areas of life that must be addressed in order to get there and I am going to dig deeper into these through this first week of January 2015.
Chief among the barriers to freedom is our old imaginary friend money; specifically the getting of, however, the keeping of is just as important for any freedom seeker. Most of us are pretty frugal by default, otherwise we wouldn’t have any problem being a rabid capitalist consumer and would just toe the line and keep going to the hamster wheel of doom every day.
Our relationship with money should be one that sees it merely as a means to an end and never getting into the position of seeing money as an end in itself. It’s a tool like any other and you should look after it like you look after your chainsaw (if you’re fixated on your firewood pile like I am;-).
Most of us though need to live among those caught up in the capitalist dream and as a result need to get our hands on money from time to time. My landlord doesn’t accept eggs as rent payment just yet!
You can try to bypass the system, try to live off the grid and if you can do that and have the life you want then that’s fantastic. However, any dreams you harbour about living without money, although admirable and fun to indulge in, are unlikely to come to fruition completely as long as you live among and have to get along with others who are wrapped up in the capitalist system. It’s also key to remember that to achieve equal value from any enterprise, money is usually exchanged for labour; so the less money you make per unit of effort then the more effort you will need to expend to stay afloat. This is where we must take a a leaf out of the book of the out and out capitalists; we must learn to create assets for ourselves in order to make freedom a real possibility…You’ll remember that I’m defining freedom as the ability to choose exactly what you do in any given moment of your life.
The richest and idlest of capitalists are those who own large assets…typically land and/or built property. Whilst the ownership of these assets is questionable, they are legally (as distinct from lawfully) owned and have become dripping roasts for their owners.
And this is where freedom seekers must look for inspiration if we are going to deal directly and permanently with the issues of getting and keeping money. You can create your own dripping roast(s) by doing work you love that produces things of long term value i.e. something you do once and get paid for multiple times. These are your assets.
Thin Air Assets
Thin air assets are those that you can create, like the name suggests from thin air with no (or very low) capital investment.
In the skewed world we live in, those who own most of the assets are the richest in terms of money and money is the crux of the system so we need to play along with it. Historically the asset rich also wielded power as they had the money to buy and control the media and by default had great influence over governments. You can see this at work in all of the mature western capitalist states, where there is a revolving door between politics, commerce, media and the legal professions; they feed off and into each other. This is how the landed gentry kept the peasants in abeyance; you couldn’t grow assets without money and you couldn’t get money without assets to back up your borrowing. The capitalists had the assets all wrapped up and all they needed to do was find a way to pretend to pay us for our labour; the labour that they used to grow and maintain their assets. Then they could get their money back by convincing us we needed their stuff; the very stuff that we were enslaved to make for them…Boom!
However, the benefit we have of living right now cannot be overestimated. The digital age, where we can all build assets and live in freedom among the slaves of capitalism is a time like no other in history and we should look to it if we want to make a bid for freedom.
And we don’t have to be limited to making and selling ebooks or other digital products. The media is no longer the reserve of the rich and powerful; we can be our own media and easily promote and sell our work with very little up front costs.
All of this can be wrapped up in the concept of making your living from your life as opposed to making your work your life. Do what you love and find a way to make money from some of it. Tomorrow I’ll expand on this concept a little to illustrate the relative ease with which this can be put into practice.