I recently read “Vagabonding” by Rolf Potts and whole heatedly recommend it, especially if you are looking for some motivation to travel and leave your 9-5, pre-planned life behind for one of adventure and dream making!
Sometimes it seems things align and just make sense, reading this book, travelling through Poland and Ukraine, reorganising our lives to travel long term and a chat with a woman retiring at age 70… This confirmed to us the belief that life is there to be lived now not in 50 years’ time, your time is your own, it belongs to you and it’s up to you to change your life to make your dreams a reality and it’s achievable for us all!
“If you don’t build your dreams someone will hire you to help build theirs.”
Tony A. Gaskins Jr.
Reading this book whilst passing through the night on an 8hour bus ride from Krakow to Lviv,I couldn’t sleep, it had my mind racing and I just wanted to shake Shorty awake every 5 minutes to show him what I had just read.
It felt like someone was reading my mind and had put down all those things we had swimming around in our heads and our hearts.
This was living, breathing and published proof that others shared our point of view and that was a real motivator, it was proof of what we believed all along. That this “other” life can be created and exists out there, in the dreams of the day, in the actions of tomorrow.
That this 9-5, this pre-made and packaged life everyone else seems to slip into isn’t the only one or the only option.
More importantly that despite what the media might say you don’t have to be a millionaire, superstar or particularly lucky to live the life of adventure and travel you always dreamed of
but felt was just someone else’s life. All you need is the presence of mind to think outside of normality and the bravery to go for it, to take a leap, because you only have one life, why not take the chance?
Shortly after returning home I bumped into a woman at work who was retiring at the age of 70 after having worked since she was 16…54 years of suppressing her passions and her dreams to get up every morning and work for someone else’s profit! I wrote this on my Facebook, it still sums up my feelings quite well:
“At work today comes up to me and tells me she is retiring at the end of the week, at 70 years of age. I look at her, can hardly get up the stairs to come to speak to me, and lovely woman though she is, I just think, this is wrong! We are conditioned into thinking we must work all those years away, turned into drones who get up every morning and switch off our desires and wish away each week until before you know it you are old and those dreams are a distant memory. Why do we work so many hours, days, weeks and years when in reality we can survive and thrive on so much less, we put money ahead of our lives, we sell our time for a bigger car or new furniture… it’s complete nonsense to me! Get out, while you are still young, don’t follow what you are “supposed” to do, create your own life and path, live for yourself and don’t sell your life away so someone else can make a profit!”
The thing is, life just goes by sometimes without us even realising it. How we experience time can change from one experience to the next and travelling through Europe got me thinking about time. It’s 10 years since I finished high school, 4 years since I started work at my current employers after graduating.
I spend two hours+ each day on the bus, 21 hours each week sat at a desk… and yet that time goes by in a flash, a week, a month, a year, gone before I have even realised it. That gets me down and I know I am only working another 12months before setting off to travel indefinitely, I really don’t know how people do it forever, this 4 years has been a big motivator in realising I needed to get out!
But yet the week we had in Krakow felt like month, all the details enriching the memories, each hour packed with enough to fill an average week in work.
Time is something we are given, something we own and can spend how we choose.
Most of us are conditioned to believe that we must sell that time to others in order to live. Working most of our week away only to enjoy a frenzied two days at the end of it or a fortnight escape here and there. Working 5 days to enjoy 2, 48 weeks to live for 4 and we put up with this for 50+ years.
We become controlled by a job we don’t even want, told when we can enjoy our own lives, feeling like we are someone’s possession. Then we spend that money we have given our week away for items we don’t even need; New furniture, Designer Clothes and alcohol, things we are told will make our lives better.
But all they are is a Band-Aid… they stave away the dissatisfaction we feel in selling our lives away, they are the cycle we get trapped into.
Most are unhappy, do things they don’t want to do, but almost all just accept it, think it’s the only way… Well we are here to say it’s not the only way!
We are often told we are optimistic young dreamers, dismissed by the “grownups” who seem to have their lives figured out; mortgages, rainy day funds, careers and pension funds. Everything is put on hold for this mystical time in the future when we can live again. In the mean time we need to shelve our dreams for another day, grow up and put up with the grind.
I say they are the fools, they live for a day that might never come; too invested in their cage they can no longer see the bars.
It happens without us even realising, we wake up on morning and we have changed from that optimistic and energy filled teenager to a twisted and cynical middle aged “adult”.
It happens before we even know it, we are on the path they set out for us even if we don’t see it,
it’s so ingrained into our daily lives and education that we just see it as “life”. We are told to follow the template, the norm, the system which earns other people money and eventually when we are old and worn we might get a few years of our own, still clutching our bitterly earned money all the way to the grave.
People dismiss it as impossible, people often look at me confused and even angry. Like it’s one or the other, working for 50 years or sponging off the state as some sort of worthless drifter. It’s not that I don’t want to work,
I just want work to be on my terms, for me and not for someone else’s dream.
The way I see it, why work in an office 48 weeks a year and do what you want for 4 weeks a year, the right way is to work for a few weeks here and there to enable you to really live for the vast majority of the year, and that involves moving out of the usual system people live by.
It’s about trail blazing, about changing your world. The world itself might be set up for an entrapping way of living but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something different. The only way anything ever changes is if those who believe in a different way stand up and make it happen.
Stop complaining, stop hating, be honest with yourself and do something about it. Change your attitude and your outlook, don’t seek out luck or chance, make opportunities yourself, overcome what hurdles are in your way.
Take a risk, jump out of the safety net because we have one shot at life and it’s worth taking the chance instead of settling for less.
Most dream at night about the lives other lead, about the things we would love to do “given the chance”, but we dream during the day, we control our own lives and we make those dreams happen!
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
Edgar Allan Poe
The thing is, we are not rich, and we are not special or lucky. We ended up with a mortgage and a house…but that doesn’t always mean entrapment, we make it work for us. We refuse to buy into social conformity, expectations and pressure, we have realised that
the biggest risk you can take is to spend your life following a path you don’t really want to be on, to give it all up for someone else’s idea of what your life should be.
I watch my mum in work every day, so stressed she makes herself ill, too many times she has said yes to doing things she didn’t want to that now it’s expected of her. They use her, they know the fear and paranoia the system creates, they know her whole life is balancing on this job. You could work 40 years and be made redundant with the click of their fingers so they can save themselves,
your pension and retirement you gave so much up for: Gone, and for what? That is a much bigger risk.
She complains about the dark, cold, early mornings and I say:
“But why do something you don’t want to do?”
and all she says is, because I have to…but the truth is that we don’t have to. My parents have more savings accounts than I have pairs of jeans, they could leave tomorrow and never look back, and my dad could fulfill his dream of watching the ashes in Australia. But instead he trundles off to work every day, never knowing if that retirement will be cruelly snatched away. The story of the school teacher in Leeds, stabbed in her last year before retirement, brings that into focus.
Life is supposed to be lived 100%,
not on evenings and weekends. Go out there and see the world, don’t worry about early nights and pension schemes. Don’t live life at 50% and then sit there when you are old and regret spending your whole life in someone else’s office. Don’t feel guilty or pressured, create your own freedom and make the most of your time on earth, live everyday and tick things off that bucket list every week. Life is too short to stick to the slow lane, so live without limits, fear or regret! Life is ours, don’t sell yourself short!
Nic is one half of the Roaming Renegades, a passionate traveller, climber, adventurer, photographer and artist who has a B.A in Fine Art and M.A in Design & Art Direction.