Often when I talk to people about the desire to travel and be free they speak to me with a wish to follow that dream but instead have become trapped in this so called “safety net”. This got me thinking, this safety net many people hedge their bets on, shelve their passions for and give up their dreams for, is is really worth it? For me my biggest fear is regret, settling for second best and just cruise controlling through life never really fulfilling my deepest hopes and dreams. That safety net of a “steady” 9-5 job, a mortgage and saving for a hypothetical future freedom to me seems like a trap. I would rather risk a life of adventure than settle for a life of mediocrity…
What is the safety net?
Well it’s many things and yet the same thing all at once. It is the compulsion which makes you chose the same meal every time you eat out in a restaurant because you know you like it…playing it safe so you know you won’t waste your money, and yet what you waste in an opportunity to discover something new, taste something for the first time and maybe find your new favourite food!
Its’s the same reason people go on tacky, cheap beach holidays to nondescript, culture less, non-place resorts every year. They know what to expect, no surprises and compete predictability. People live their whole lives in this so called safety net; pensions, savings accounts, 40 year careers in jobs they hate all for “security”, for the “future” and so some distant pipe dream that never quite seems to get any closer. This is the epitome of doing the same thing every year for 70 years and calling it a life!
The safety net is what stops people going after their dreams.
One of the influences for writing this post was seeing this advert for the HP Sprout printer. It struck me as sad and ironic. This advert is to sell this product as a way to reclaim ones creativity or at least allow it to flourish for your young and free child before life inevitably grinds them down too. There is a general acceptance that this is how life is, the path it takes, the fact passions have been crushed for a collective dream of following nothingness is never questioned…but only solved through spending money.
A band-aid solution which we are all to familiar with, spending all that money we spend our life earning on things we don’t need, making ourselves feel better through consumerism which in fact traps us even deeper into the cycle. Papering over the cracks of our dissatisfaction with the fact our lives have become a dull and boring slog instead of getting to the root of the problem and taking that leap!
People I see all around me seem to have this idea that life has to be this battle, has to be hard work and basically unenjoyable to be worth while. That grafting your life away is the only way to give it value? I have no issue with work, but surely the reason we all do it is to be able to make the most out of our time, not to spend the majority of it working and then the rest of the time unable to enjoy the fruits of our labour. That only benefits our employer, not the worker! And yet, because it’s “normal” we just go along with it, never questioning how much time we are giving away for someone else’s profit.
Risk and regret
The problem with the safety net is that it is a web of lies rather than a safe landing, it tangles you into it’s promises and drowns your free spirit, creativity and energy. It turns money making into the end not the means; it makes us live to work rather than work to live. It creates a paranoid society in which we are scared to have those wild and crazy dreams. It forces us to settle down, be sensible, never take risks and basically become that boring “grown up” we swore we would never become. We become bound by our own “safety net”, instead of a way to keep your life together it becomes the chains which condemn you to mediocrity.
I am not advocating being totally frivolous and irresponsible, but to consider this. What is a greater risk, shelving all your true passions, hopes, dreams and desires on a long distant retirement which might never happen or going for broke right now whilst you can, daring to dream and giving everything you can to make that crazy life a reality…now!
“We were born to do more than pay bills and die”
Money, it comes and goes. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t. Time on the other hand, it only goes one way, we never get that one back. When we toddle off to work each day we sell our time for an agreed sum of money, some get more, some not to much. Often the more we get the more of a honeytrap we get caught in, too much to give away, too much security. But money should be the means not the goal, happiness, freedom and living the life of your dreams should be the end. Too many people get so warped by those numbers they forget merely collecting money is not our sole purpose in life.
Saving money, in many ways I just don’t understand it. Sure we save up, actually that’s what we are doing right now. That might seem hypocritical but that I mean is, we are saving to travel the world. Cutting back on all we can to work towards a lifetimes dream, but one which is achievable by working for a year or so. I see people scrimping and saving just for the purpose of saving. With no aim or purpose other than the fabled “safety net. Not even having the courage to spend that hard earned money and at least enjoy the earnings from those lost hours of tolling away.
My Grandad did this his entire life and his story really tells the tale of this post, ultimately he gave his life away for money, maybe it was this that made me see the world how I do, who knows.
My Grandad, Jack, worked almost his entire life for one company. He worked his way up and earned a decent living for him and his family. But instead of enjoying this money he had earned he lived in a forced state of poverty. Being as tight fisted with money as you could imagine and in turn making his and his families lives a misery. Every penny he spent that he earned in that place he hated he begrudged, he never treated his children or took his wife out. All the while collecting money in his bank accounts, when me and my brother came around we hardly saw him and when we did he hated having to spend money on us. But how did it all end. He retired from his job, divorced and living on his own in a cold and run down bedsit he got mesothelioma,Cancer as a result of working with asbestos all those years. All that money he hoarded for all that time, that ended up in the hands of the children and grandchildren he never wanted to spend it on. Money consumed him, rules him and ultimately he wasted his life for it.
Me, I’ll happily tell you I currently work in a part time minimum wage job, sure I would rather earn more money and maybe with an MA I should. But my biggest concern: Getting lured into the trap of a career I never wanted and waking up 40 years later and realising I’ve wasted all those hours, days, weeks and years just for numbers in a bank account. I save up and then guess what, I spend it on amazing and once in a lifetime experiences, travelling, seeing bands, trying new and exotic foods. Sampling all life has to offer…
Sure, we all have to work here and there, we all need a roof over our heads and some food. But the safety net makes us work away so many more hours than we need, tying ourselves down to the whims of someone else. Telling us when we can take time off, when we have to get up in the morning and even letting us go and the drop of a hat and throwing all that time we have spent into jeopardy.
You could work for 40 years, save up for that hard earned pension and get made redundant, having to dip into those saving and be left with nothing to show for all that time you gave away to someone else. You could get cancer, ran over by a bus or end up too old and frail to enjoy that retirement. Is it worth the risk?
Go for it!
So what I am trying to say is “Go for it!” Life is too short NOT to take risks, it’s too short to bet it all on an insurance policy. Life and our time on this earth is a gift, spending it all sat in some office being miserable and counting down the days of your life until the weekend, your yearly holiday or eventual retirement is a wasted opportunity. Why wish away the best part of 40 years of the prime time of your life? Employers, they don’t really care about you as a person, about your dreams and desires, you are machinery to them, a money making pawn. Don’t allow them to own you, own them instead.
Pack that bag, jump off that mountain or just start saying yes! Being brave, pushing yourself and making a life worth writing about exists in many forms. Take off the chains and find your way…
…and if you ask, What if I fall?
oh but my darling… What if you fly?”
Want to read more of our rants about travel, time, money and working… or just find some inspiration to leave the grind and make your travel dreams come true. Check out these other articles!
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.