BY LIVING MORE I NEEDED LESS

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How many times has someone asked you “What do you do for a living”? I have always found this question to be rather strange, as I do not consider an occupation as “living”.

Living, to me, has always been ‘experiencing the planet’ when I am not working. Growing up in Australia, I was raised on the 888 movement. The 888 movement symbolized the belief of eight hours work, rest and play. As a kid the triple 8 theory seemed balanced, however by my teens I found myself questioning the logic.

Mathematically speaking, if I live to be 90 years of age, I would have slept 30 years, worked 30 years, and played for 30 years. During my play years I am expected to obtain a college education, juggle a marriage and a mortgage, get pregnant, raise kids, plan out my vacations, waste endless hours in traffic jams, not to mention making appearances at social functions out of obligation and expectation.

When you consider life’s responsibilities and societal expectations it really does cut into your play years. Based on the triple 8 plan, I would be lucky to experience five years of significant play time. With that said, 5 years out of 95 on the planet, call me selfish, it’s just not good enough for me.

Remember ‘PLAY’ years also include retirement. The concept of retirement has always appeared rather backwards to me, and I think we have it wrong. The idea of waiting till one retires to travel, explore, and pursue passions seems rather sad and a perhaps a tad too late. What if you don’t live to retirement age? What if your body no longer allows you to travel? What if you cannot afford to travel by the time you reach retirement?

I recently read a New York Times report that suggested most people at age 50 to 64 have nothing or next to nothing in retirement accounts and thus will rely solely on Social Security. Some analysts have suggested working even longer, ignoring the reality that unemployment rates for those over 50 are increasing faster than for any other age group. So we work out of necessity, instead of living off simplicity. It seems we are more likely to ‘give in’ to working more than we are to ‘giving up’ some creature comforts. I have witnessed friends eliminate activities of ‘living’ in order to maximize their retirement earning potential. Why is waiting to retire honored, yet ‘living’ in the now is seen as impulsive.

Over the past 5 years I have learned to live more by requiring less. Wealth for me is not measured by currency or personal property. I feel my wealth stems from experiences with people, places and situations, as opposed to the having the latest 60 inch HD TV, or counting down the days till I drive my new Lexus off the dealership lot.

Living more and requiring less was tried and tested last summer when I hiked the John Muir trail. For 211 miles, my entire life was dependant on the contents inside my 40 lb pack. Life really had been reduced to the bare essentials. Shelter, food, clothes, maps and my camera is all I really needed to live every day. The simplicity of walking and carrying your essentials on your back offered me a limbic clarity that turned my thoughts into life absolutes.

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My life absolutes found on the 12’000 foot passes were rather simple. I realized everything that society lacked, I found on the trail. Community, connection, caring was the norm on the trail. Disconnection, lack of community, and the feeling of being too busy to care, is what I had grown accustomed to in mainstream.

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The absolute of absolutes was the realization that I did not want return to life as I knew it. I wanted to live outside more. I wanted to slow life and time down. We become so focused on life in front of us that we miss life around us.

In 2014, I promised myself I would LIVE differently. A seasonal gig in a remote location has afforded me the opportunity to do just that

Here is my story.

 

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20 thoughts on “BY LIVING MORE I NEEDED LESS

  1. The ultimate currency is time and experience. Two things you can not trade. Since moving to New York City, I have truly realize how little I need to actually just live. Simply live. Water, food, shelter. Once you cut out the crap, you see what really matters. Wealth is measured in happiness. I enjoyed this.

    Erik
    http://erikconover.com/

    Liked by 1 person

    • i think most of us have never given ourselves permission to LIVE..we are too busy trying to live up to expectations and societial norms that hold many hostage. I think for artists and creative creatures this is the way to go..otherwise we spend more time working to live, instead of creating

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  2. We decided when we were 55 that it was time to do exactly as you are doing. We cobbled together a total of 7 part time jobs to give us both experience with the tourist industry and set an escape date. 18 months later, June 17th, 2004, we took off in a pre-owned Winnebago we had owned for a week. We are still out here Having explored and worked in 11 states. We chose to do it then because we were still in relatively good health but I had diabetes while He had already had a heart attack. Who knew what was ahead. Thank God we did that. We still live in our MH and workcamp out of it in Tucson where I’ve been undergoing cancer treatment for almost 3 years. We plan to get back on the road ASAP but we have friends our age who may never make it because of their health issues. We sure are not rich but we are having a wonderful Playtime.

    I’ll be watching for your blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is really good Leigh. First and foremost Iam really excited for you. I don’t “judge” you as impulsive, I see you as brave to make the choice to just do it.

    I read it to Lori and immediately after, she said, I think that is going to happen to us after the JMT this summer. I know it will. It’s all I day dream about, living sooner than later.

    Thanks for blogging Leigh. Looking forward to sharing in your journey through them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This blog posting is spot on! I had not heard of the 888 rule as such and at least like that it acknowledged the word play. Except for my childhood play was never discussed as part of life balance, it was more about being productive. For many years I watched others who seemed to find a balance between work, family, play and rest. I was never successful at enjoying play when I had so much work to do, whether that be in my job or home or other obligations.

    I’ve also been extremely jealous and at times resentful of those who can play hard and not worry about tomorrow. But now like you, I’ve decided it’s my turn. My turn to be slightly irresponsible, not worry about next year or next decade, I’ll deal with those when they come. I only have one body and now is the time to be selfish and PLAY!!!!

    May our paths cross!

    Liked by 1 person

    • i think society has sent us mixed messages about balance and play. We are told to work hard and the next minute encouraged to stop and smell the roses. It seems we are held hostage by fear of the ‘ what if’s’, and the media cosigns it rather well

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