|The Canadian Skies // Personal picture, 2013.|
I read a very thought provoking article over at Raptitude this week. David explains the life lessons he learned by leaving his day job and working as a self employed "workforce escapee". One of his points in particular made me think: he says we are trained to have bosses, to let society guide us through rails and we don't know how to "take the wheel" of our own life. Without going as far as quitting our day jobs, what does it mean for our autonomy and life choices as human beings?
When I started questioning my life and engaging in simple living, one of the key questions I tried - and am still trying - to answer is: how will I decide to live within this consumerist society while remaining true to my values and growing as a human being?
No matter how appealing Thoreau's autonomous life in his wooden shed is, it is hardly possible to get completely out of society today. Because we have loved ones we want to live around, which means we have to be inserted in society somehow, earn money, find a place to live and respect a number of social codes (being dressed for example). Also, because we want to enjoy the comfort of modern life, electricity, access to food without hunting, electronic devices, planes to travel etc.
But, in order to be integrated in society and maintain our social life, do we have to follow these "rails" of education, college, 9-5 job, morgage, retirement...? What are the choices we can make to live in this society while leaving the consumerist cycle and traditional definition of success based on accumulating riches?
Trained to Follow the RailsI am not going to answer this question today, as I am still pondering it, but I'd like to discuss David's point from the Raptitude article linked above. We are trained to follow the rails. Think about it, if you were to leave your job tomorrow and try to live as a freelancer with your projects, would you know how to do it, concretely, day to day? I certainly wouldn't.
For example, it is my dream to become a writer and live off my writings, but I don't even have time to write everything I'd like, because I spend 8 hours a day at work. Without going as far as leaving my day job tomorrow and living off my personal projects, I'd like to find a way to write more and publish my writing - in other words, lead my personal project, outside of my day job, as a way to live my own personal life and grow outside of my 9-5 career, while remaining integrated in society and receiving my paycheck every month.
But we aren't trained to know how to do that. We are trained to go to work, do our job, get our money, spend it in department stores, buy real estate and pay a morgage all our life, consume entertainment and keep spending our money till the last penny. But we aren't trained to take the lead of our life and make the choices to grow as a human being.
How Can We Take the Wheel?So, now my question is, how can we learn to take the wheel, lead our life with more autonomy, and know what choices will take our life in a different direction, how to refuse the traditional model of the consumerist society, help our personal projects move forward, lead our life toward more fulfilment and contentment? It is not natural, and not taught by our education and social references, but can't we learn how to?
So, I don't have a guide for you, unfortunately. But, I believe that the first step is to actually ask ourselves the question: how can I take the wheel of my life? Maybe it starts with shutting the automatic drive off and question the rails we are currently sitting on. Asking ourselves where we want our life to lead us to. What alternative to the current social model we want to reach, what is our own definition of success and fulfilment. It may be asking ourselves what our life priorities really are about, what personal projects we'd like to spend time and energy on. After all, the first step to change is to realize that we want to.