Things must change, and I like going surfing.

Everything is linked. My growing interest in ecology, sustainability and the belief that as humans we are better to do nothing unless it directly benefits those around us and the planet ties in nicely with the fact that I’d prefer to go surfing than do any work. Today is Monday and the day on which I question everything. The answer is always the same – I hate working for a big corporate, as a result I am rubbish at it and I just want to leave as soon as possible. Then I do the maths and I decide I have to stay here another six months. Blah blah blah.

As a result I turn to radical ecological thought on the internet. I just discovered Dark Mountain – this is from their doom laiden manifesto: “there is an underlying darkness at the root of everything we have built. Outside the cities, beyond the blurring edges of our civilisation, at the mercy of the machine but not under its control, lies something that neither Marx nor Conrad, Caesar nor Hume, Thatcher nor Lenin ever really understood. Something that Western civilisation – which has set the terms for global civilisation – was never capable of understanding, because to understand it would be to undermine, fatally, the myth of that civilisation. Something upon which that thin crust of lava is balanced; which feeds the machine and all the people who run it, and which they have all trained themselves not to see.” There’s a happy ending to the manifesto though: “The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.”

Phew. I’ll get through another Monday then and behind the scenes I’ll work on my alternative career.

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Love this blog post – you only need $40k to be happy

OK so it was published in 2004, it was US dollars, so that number may have gone up a bit by 2010 – maybe it’s AUD 60-70k now. Whatever – it validates my thinking. I recently bitched and moaned and said to my boss that I was thinking of leaving. It wasn’t an idle threat, I meant it and still do. Now there’s talk of a 40% payrise, a promotion, all the rest of it. It’s going to make the choice to leave more difficult, but I think this is part of the challenge I’m facing by escaping corporate life. And I know deep down I’m leaving and that I need to do something else, and that maybe I need to take some time off too. But I also know that I’m going to have to take a big pay cut but really, does that matter? – I’ve got everything I need, I just have to be able to pay my half of the mortgage and have enough for when we have kids. So it’s all good and I’m making progress.

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Back to the land and sea

I think I’ve found a phrase for my philosophy and my next work endeavour: back to the land and sea. I think it has a nice ring to it.

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Do less and life is better

The more I read, the more I find people thinking in like-minded ways. It started with Tom Hodgkinson’s “How to be free” and the latest thing I’ve found is the slow food manifesto, reproduced below from

It all amounts to the same thing – the more feverish our ambition, the more we do, the greater the impact on our environment. It’s better to chill – to hang with friends, to read good books, to meditate, to eat good, slow local food and to go surfing.

Anyway, here’s the Slow Food Manifesto:

The Slow Food international movement officially began when delegates from 15 countries endorsed this manifesto, written by founding member Folco Portinari, on December 10, 1989.

Our century, which began and has developed under the insignia of industrial civilization, first invented the machine and then took it as its life model.

We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods.

To be worthy of the name, Homo Sapiens should rid himself of speed before it reduces him to a species in danger of extinction.

A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life.

May suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency.

Our defense should begin at the table with Slow Food.
Let us rediscover the flavors and savors of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food.

In the name of productivity, Fast Life has changed our way of being and threatens our environment and our landscapes. So Slow Food is now the only truly progressive answer.

That is what real culture is all about: developing taste rather than demeaning it. And what better way to set about this than an international exchange of experiences, knowledge, projects?

Slow Food guarantees a better future.

Slow Food is an idea that needs plenty of qualified supporters who can help turn this (slow) motion into an international movement, with the little snail as its symbol.

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Is D-Day here?

Almost passively, I have arrived at a potential crossroads. I have two choices: either I ask for more leave, even though I’m already 8 days overdrawn, and go on the surf trip, or I quit my job, go on the surf trip and come back to a brave new world of voluntary unemployment and contemplation of what’s next (obviously not going on the trip is not an option!).

I want to walk away from corporate employment, I really do.

The question is though  – do I have the balls?

If anyone was reading this I’d say, “watch this space”.

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Mondays should be about nothing but self indulgence, and surfing

Another Monday comes to an end. Like almost every one spent before it in work, it has been wholly unsatisfying, just this side of intolerable and acts as a bright light on just how much I hate my job. Whatever I do next, I am not going to work on Mondays. The signs are there – when I’m on holiday, Mondays are great, when I’m at work, I detest them. The only answer – do something else for a living, and the do nothing but surf on a Monday.

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So what do I really want?

I’m selfish and I’m doing this soul searching for selfish reasons. It’s how must of us humans operate. I should be more altruistic, do more for others, do something nice for someone everyday. This is coming, as I step out of my limited and sad little corporate hole, but the fact remains that my primary motives for change is to make myself happier. It starts with me.

I’ve been looking at horticulture. It seems to me that if I’m going to have a job that’s intrinsically tied to helping and appreciating the environment around me, then I need to do more to understand it. So I’m thinking about learning from the ground up, literally. Immerse myself in how things grow and how we can help them. Use this knowledge to grow organic food and reduce my need on supermarkets (the more I think about packaging, waste, food miles, marketing, all of it, the more I consider what we’re doing to be inherently absurd). Part of me believes this is a fantastic idea. A fairly big part, but not the only part.

The other part of me taps away, telling me it’s not going to happen, that it’s merely another phase in my life, that I’ll have changed my mind in a month and I’ll be onto the next scheme. It tells me that I’m only looking for something which is the polar opposite of what I do now, and that it won’t satisfy me in the long run more than anything else. Maybe this is right, but I think it’s probably wrong and the only way to test myself is to Just Do It, or JFDI as an old boss of mine once said to me when I launched into the first big change in my professional life.

There’s a couple of other underlying, real concerns about going into horticulture, permaculture, landscape gardening or sculpture, organic food growing or whatever it ends up being.

They are real, and I need to figure them out and fight them on the beaches:

  1. I actually quite like having a bit of money in my pocket. Being able to eat out whenever I like, buy things, do things, travel, surf. If I go and study, and spend the next couple of years at trade level, then I’m going to be considerably poorer.
  2. I’m somewhat lazy. I’ve become a terrible self starter – I’ve hated my job for so long that I can’t remember if I was always this bad but I’m fairly sure it’s got a lot worse. Will I therefore resent the hours, the early mornings, the hard yards?

Who knows. The important thing is that I’m taking steps to be free. Freedom is deciding that I’m going to work in the first place. Freedom is then choosing a career from something I love and which is something useful. Freedom is accepting that to get to live by the beach, surf, be part of normal society to some degree, is needing a job or at least being good enough at something to work when I please.

Maybe this soul searching is helping me to answer my own questions, and come to terms with the changes I’m going to make.

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