This morning I was listening to Alan Watts. I like Alan Watts. As much as he’s famed for bringing Eastrn Philosophy to wider acclaim in the Western world, an awful lot of what he says is just plain good sense. For instance, his comments on work. If you want to hear the talk you can find it on YouTube, ‘What would you do if money was no object?’. His argument is that if you think money is the most important thing, then you’ll do something you don’t like to earn money to keep doing something you don’t like ‘which is stupid’ (those last three are his words).

Doesn’t that pretty much describe nearly everyone’s life? We do something we don’t like to acquire money but we’ll never reach the point where we don’t need that money so we have to keep doing that thing we don’t like until we retire and even that release of burden is getting further and further away with each extension of the retirement age. We wish our lives away, everyday waiting for the end of our shift, every week waiting for Friday, every month writing for our holiday. What a waste of life. It is, when you really think about it, very stupid. So what’s the alternative? Doing something you do like obviously.

But no! I hear you cry. That’s what’s really stupid, I’ll never make a living as a artist, photographer, sculpter, tree surgeon, professional surfer, whatever it happens to be. The question you then have to ask is ‘Why not? When other people do?’. That may not be the path to easy money, it probably involves a lot of hard work and sacrifice but if you’re pursuing your passions it shouldn’t feel too much like hard work and sacrifice. If it does feel like hard work and sacrifice then maybe it’s not what you really want to do, maybe it’s just a pretty image in your head, in which case you need to think again and maybe what you really, really love doing is far simpler and so obvious that you don’t even see it anymore. Maybe you want to teach swimming to small children or look after old people or be a professional dog walker or bake cupcakes for local bakeries.

Life is such a precious thing. So short, so beautiful, so inevitably painful. Why make your life worse through your own choices. Why make yourself a slave to money and break your back and your spirit if there is any other choice? And surely by making the simple decision to pursue your passions rather than financial advancement you are breaking the consumer cycle. In your own little, self-fulfilling, way you are taking a stand against the machine and that’s really quite something to be proud of.

I’m not saying I have the answers, I’m still feeling my way myself but that leads me to another thing we’re taught that’s actually quite stupid. ‘Don’t point out problems if you don’t have the solutions.’ Bull crap, pointing out a problem is a gateway to discussion. Discussion opens minds to new ideas and new perspectives and that leads to far bigger solutions.

Happy hump day.

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