10 August 2008


Today is special. It may lack the ring of 080808, but today is my one year anniversary of Life After Desk. Woohoo! I have survived a WHOLE YEAR unrestrained by desk shackles! Before I march off to knitting class - it is also 'd' day for the beanie - I thought I'd share a few kernels about the quest for meaning, purpose (and income)* beyond the desk. Forgive me, this is about five different shades of nerdy. But I am in high celebration mode.

1. Do what you love (but don’t plan too much!). Never before has the universe responded so well to my lack of life direction and planning. I leapt into the fresh unknown with the unshaped idea to do what I enjoy. There were vague dreams of star-lit skies and open spaces. I bought a guidebook to Western Australia. Then mysterious planetary stuff happened and I stumbled onto Pelican. Literally. I spent almost the rest of the year at sea. Sailing. Travelling. Working for Indigenous and environmental issues. And of course, cooking. Kooky! All I did was fire off an email and two weeks later stepped aboard. The important lesson was to take the leap. You need to make room before new things can grow, etc.

2. Amazing starts are just that: starts. Equilibrium is nature’s genius. It's not all croquet and cloudwatching. I guess the past few months’ battles to gain a toehold in the freelance world were inevitable after such an effortless start.

3. It’s difficult to turn a lone cog. Come with me on this journey: we’re all cogs, we were born to turn. As a lone cog, you can no longer just turn up and submit your jagged little edges to the wheels of the great machinery. No. Like all cogs, you must turn, but you must find a way to turn yourself. And in the depths of winter, when you’re bogged in philosophical quandries about the purpose of cogs, when there are no other cogs for miles around, when you’ve been rejected by the big cogs, when you’ve exhausted your self-turn talk and even your cog-mojo gets disgusted and leaves… being a solo cog is No Bloody Fun.

4. Prosperity has little to do with numbers. (Beyond a certain point.) My income is a sliver of its former self. As is my consumption. Not to mention my ‘productive output’ aka the number of widgets I have birthed in the past year. But I have become so much more rounded, I am the essence of BALL.

5. I’ll have the …………………………………….. ? Too much choice confounds decision-making. For me, anyway, who can barely decide what to order for dinner (when I used to go out for dinner). Choice is like money (see above): you only need so much to be happy; the surplus conspires to remove your happiness. (It’s like we got smitten by money and choice and suddenly forgot about the law of diminishing returns.) Anyway, removing myself from a widget job was cake. Compared, that is, with choosing an alternative… and pursuing it with intent to attain self-sufficiency. Though I've narrowed it down a whack, I’ve been bogged of late in philosophical quandries about the purpose of work. Sometimes I think the answer is lurking at the other end of the sentence: what the world needs now is…

6. The nomadic thing sucks. Unless of course you have your own yurt, which would be cool, though not without its troubles if you wanted to pitch it in, say, Collingwood. After 18 months of living in other people’s spaces, what I miss most is my own. Life After Independent Habitation (I started cohabiting again six months before the desk divorce, for anyone paying attention) has flung a latent dream to the fore: to build my own house. Out of reclaimed materials. With my own hands. Where I will sustain myself by the freelance life and the bounty of the land. There is a bit more to it, but that’s the nutshell version. This is the oft alluded to Grande Plann.

So there you have it. That's what I learnt loosing the desk shackles. Maybe it doesn't look like much. But it's more than I had a year ago. And this is just the start. Now, where are those bubbles?

*My first learning should have been: 'Never Put Income in Parentheses', it is alphabetic feng shui. Or was my lack of income a result of my giving away my jade (aka money) plants when I purged myself of accumulated material crud?

No comments: