This spending of the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it reminds me of the Englishman who went to India to make a fortune first, in order that he might return to England and live the life of a poet. – Walden by H.D. Thoreau
As far as we know, this is our single, precious lifetime to experience all that life on Earth has to offer. So, it makes sense to spend some effort getting our strategy figured out. Here’s what I mean by strategy. How can we arrange things so that we can enjoy ourselves immensely, learn the most amazing things, and have the best adventures that we can fathom?
Apparently some people enjoy pain, but most prefer to find ways to reduce fear and suffering, while increasing joy and pleasure. There are far too many people “living lives of quiet desperation”, working jobs they loathe and feeling stuck in situations at home that are very unhealthy. If we chose to work like slaves so that we can ‘one day’ retire, we would have developed a lifetime of habits of feeling like a resentful victim of life, instead of a free creator of our own destinies.
Another option is to potentially earn less money, but choose to do work that is more meaningful and enjoyable. That is the kind of life that makes sense to me. Some minimalists choose less busy-ness and less business, but more quality of life. Some choose to spend fewer hours toiling, with more time for living moments that they cherish.
What if we finally get to retire but discover that we are too unhealthy to travel or do the things we dreamed about our entire lives? What if we have lost the urge and the courage to take the risks required to fully immerse ourselves in those experiences that we have lived our whole lives to finally get to do? How tragic!
It’s strange that waiting your whole life to start living, while saving up for ‘someday’ is the norm. If you were thinking, “There’s got to be a better way!”, you’re right. There is. It’s all about intentional simplicity and minimalism. We really don’t need most of the crap we have been conditioned to think we need. When we are less needy, we don’t have to spend so much time feeling enslaved by the system of working too much and wasting our lives waiting to truly live!
Walden is available as a free audiobook that can be found at Librivox or on YouTube. It can be super handy to listen to a book as it allows you to ‘read’ while exercising, cleaning, creating art, or on very long drives. If the reader is really good, it can even feel like watching a film.