Ever stopped to wonder why you believe in what you believe in and whether it’s really necessary to believe in those things? Whether you really do want the things you think you want? Or whether you really have to do the things you have to do? I wonder how many of us are chugging along on autopilot and not really thinking about how we live our lives.
In The Moneyless Man, author Mark Boyle quotes another moneyless man, American Daniel Suelo, who says, “To say that I live without money isn’t saying anything, really. That’s like saying I live without belief in Santa Claus. Now if we lived in a world where everybody believed in Santa Claus, you might think I’m stepping out on a limb to live without Santa Claus.”
My contract ends soon and I’ll be unemployed again. People keep saying, “What are you going to do?” to which I answer, “I don’t know. Something always comes up!” I’m lucky in that I don’t have a mortgage or rent to pay – I know that’s a fortunate position – but I do have bills and I do need to eat and put fuel in the car. But something always does come up.
I guess that people might think Daniel Suelo is odd to live without money because we live in a world that believes in money. In the same way, people perhaps find it odd that I don’t worry about work. We live in a world that believes in work.
I thought, as a teenager growing up, that I would go to university. It was what people of my upbringing and social class did. So I went. Then I became a teacher because I didn’t know what else to do and my parents had been teachers. Then I got married – it was what people did. I expected it. I thought I’d be considered a failure if I didn’t.
I don’t have children, but that wasn’t for lack of trying in my late thirties. Again, it was what was expected. I’m not sure I really stopped to consider whether it was the right thing for me, or what I really wanted. One of my friends has admitted that she had her children just because it was “what everyone did” – not that she doesn’t really love them.
I suppose doing what is expected of you isn’t too bad if those expectations are high. I know one friend who works in a school in a rather deprived area of Lancashire. The children there have no expectations other than signing on and living off benefits because that’s what their parents before them have always done. But even though I was fortunate enough to be raised with higher expectations than that, I still think it’s high time I lived my life according to what I want to do rather than conforming to society’s norms.
Perhaps in some ways, I already have. I don’t have a conventional full-time, permanent 9 to 5 job. I think it’s time to step out on a limb, as Daniel Suelo puts it, and stop living my life according to what’s expected and start living my life according to what my heart is telling me.