Friday, 29 July 2011

A year to the day

It was a year ago today that I escaped office grind.

I cant believe that time has passed so quickly. Time never went quickly when I worked the grind. The days, weeks and months used to seem endless.

I have noticed a marked improvement in my physical, mental and emotional health since The Escape. This must be down to the fact that I now no longer work in an office and I moved out of the city. I no longer have the stress of the job. In fact it amazes me how much time work actually consumed of my waking hours.

Now I can look out the window and see trees and mountains. I now ride my bike for transportation. DH has the car all week since he is still working away. If I didn't ride my bike I would not be able to get around. I've lost quite a bit of weight being more active. Now I can just ride out of the front door and within minutes I can be at the beach or on a cycle path into the mountains. THAT seems like such a luxury to me. 

I always found peace and solace in the outdoors, it calms me it reduces my anxiety. I think more people need to enjoy nature. Contentment and peace of mind is NOT attained by working one's self to the bone. What good is money when health is poor? We do not need to live in big houses with huge mortgages and drive big expensive cars. It is these things which keep us chained to our jobs, the shackles of modern slavery. Less is so much more.

There are a lot of unanswered questions I have about the future, about how and where we will live our lives. If you had told me a year ago that I would be living where I am living now I would have laughed. I would NEVER have thought that we would be living here. But I believe that you see things with fresh eyes at different points in your life. The truth is I really don't know where we will be next year. Sometimes this saddens me. I really do feel the need to build a home. The itinerant nature of my childhood has carried over into my adult life. Once I joined the professional working world I found that the cycle of moving all the time carried on as I had to go wherever the work was.

I feel I need to rid myself of this gnawing dissatisfaction of being rootless. Or, do I make peace and accept it? Buddhism tells us that the problem is not the problem, the solution is acceptance of the problem.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Meaningful work

When I worked the office grind I used to dream and fantasize about unlimited free time. I dreamt of freedom. Freedom from a schedule, freedom from a desk in an office, freedom from the stress of the job. I dreamt of freedom to do whatever I wanted day in day out. Freedom to climb mountains every day. Freedom from cities and concrete buildings. Freedom to cycle through forests with the wind in my hair. I wanted freedom to design my own life.

Now that I've got what I want can I handle it? This life is not for everyone. You have to take charge of your own entertainment. People wonder what I do all day, they ask don't I get bored, don't I feel lost without the sense of purpose that work brings?

The answer is, no and yes and sometimes. But the truth is that I could not return to my old life now. You see I feel that the work ethic is so ingrained in us that people now cannot imagine life without work, and I find this sad. Most people are not prepared to take responsibility for their own lives, the thought of freedom actually frightens them.

But, it was never my intention not to do some sort of "work". Even though its been almost a year since The Escape I am still in the early stages of discovering what I want. The great thing is that I can and do climb mountains most days, I can and do ride my back with the wind in my hair. I now grow vegetables!

However I think we humans are complex creatures and like it or not we need other humans around us. The truth is that I do miss some social interaction. I used to think that I wanted to go and live on an island on my own, I was very bitter, angry and dejected. Being somewhat introverted I find socialising difficult.

Ideally I would have liked some sort of part time work, something fun like working in a cafe or waitressing. Those jobs are few and far between, and in the area where I live there is great competition for them. These days there is a formal application process for these part time unskilled jobs. You actually need a CV to serve coffee??? My CV is very technical, I don't stand a chance.

The other thing is that I do miss the intellectual stimulation of my old job. I have thought about retraining, I'd like to do something involved in public service. But you wonder whether there is any point in retraining without the certainty of a job at the end of it. I looked into retraining as a Nurse, however my GP put me off this and suggested that I study medicine instead. There is a post graduate fast track course in medicine which is designed for mature students with a degree. Now this really got me thinking. I have always been interested in medicine but this is a HUGE commitment. For a while thinking about it I got excited about it. But would I be just trading one treadmill for another? This would be ideal for me in a way that it is helping people, its "giving back". But it is a big commitment. But I do need something to do. This does mean that we are committed to being here for long term.

Do we have many other options anyway about where to live? Portugal living is still on my mind but I worry that it could be too one dimensional, I think I may need more variety. I also have to think about DH. DH said he was bored and has gone back to work, its not permanent work, but he has taken a temporary contract for 3 months as a locum. He says he needed something to do and missed the social interaction. Hmmm I do wonder sometimes whether we want the same things.