Tuesday, 19 February 2013

That elusive deserted island

*Dedicated to Matt and Emil, the two readers of this blog willing to speak up

Have you ever thought that if it wasn't for the evening, humanity would go insane? Eight hours of sleep is just about enough to forget about how shitty life is, and to delude yourself into thinking that if you give it one more shot everything will go well this time. Sound depressed? Thanks Dr Freud, lol.

Ok, let's correct that: it's not that life is shitty - it's just that the vast majority of people have been trapped into living shitty lives. Yet we keep ourselves going collectively with lies and dreams for the weekend. My favourite example? A billboard for liquor with a photo of a private jet cruising above a jungle and the catch phrase: "One day you will."

Rubbish. Alcohol certainly won't help you buy a private jet, although it might help you pretend that you might one day own one. How many people are there on earth? How many people have private jets? I rest my case.

The real problem with being pissed off is that it takes energy, and life has a habit of sapping energy - you can't stay pissed off forever, so you end up feeling that maybe it's not as bad as you thought. Until you get pissed off again, write another blog post, watch an episode of Survivor and go to sleep.

Who was the sick bastard who created money, anyway? The only joy with money is spending it - that's the whole reason we worked for it, right? - and yet 'conventional wisdom' is that we should spend it on insurance and towards a retirement ... so that we can buy an over-priced retirement home and eat something better than catfood for the last fifteen years of our life. What choice do we have?

I'm just a product of the system, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I'm not about to just turn up my stereo and spraypaint hateful phrases about 'The Man' on walls around town either: moaning about not being in power is not a way to acquire power. The same goes for wearing tie-dye shirts and moving into a commune - the catfood route might be a better long-term strategy.

The simple fact is that humans could be so much more productive if they could choose what they wanted to do, instead of filing the paperwork and returning the e-mails and making the phonecalls which keep the corporate world turning. It's a gigantic circle where we're all just passing money from hand to hand, and our valuable time could surely be better spent.

Maybe the real problem is television and the Internet. At least in the old days you could convince yourself that the world was filled with mystery, but these days? At best you can tick off items on a list that countless other people have already ticked off, and you've already probably watched other people do or experience on television.

So what about Richard Branson? What about the quest for space, what about the cutting edge of medical research, what about building those amazingly precise machines which operate faultlessly on automated assembly lines? Yes, there are those things, but the whole point is that by the time we realise we should rather have studied to be an engineer or astrophysicist, it's too late to start.

How do we break the cycle? Apart from winning the lottery or other freak incidents of luck. It's not 'breaking the cycle' if it's only us - although don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind being one of the few. Rather, we need to break the cycle for everybody, and how is that done when you can't get three people to agree on a single question never mind an entire world philosophy.

Life is so multi-faceted, and your satisfaction with it depends purely on where you decide to stop peeling back the layers. I mean, you start off at school, and somehow you manage to finish that. Then you are handed the challenge of 'The Real World', and manage to jump through the hoops of 8-5 work, politics, relationships and budgets. Then you get to my stage, where you wonder, 'What can I do with my life to make the ending a bit more worthwhile than the ending everybody else seems to resign themselves to?'

If you feel you're better than your job, stick up your hand. If you realise that earning more is just going to lead to more expenses, stick up your hand. If you hate buying new things because you have a habit of getting disappointed by whatever you buy the moment you're out of the store, stick up your hand.

I can't tell you what the answer is, but I know that happiness isn't about the size of your TV screen or your job title. Remember how I spoke about exactly this in terms of a Johannesburg street near the start of this blog? I don't want to be 30 and a senior editor, I don't want to be 40 and a managing director, I don't want to be 50 and looking at buying a Porsche and maybe going on that ocean cruise I've always meant to.

I guess I want to work with an awesome team of people to make other people's lives better, to explore and report my findings in a constructive manner, to build something amazing by myself that actually works, and to never have to worry about how many days it is until my payslip comes in again. I guess it's a life as a maverick technician in a nature colony for me then, lol. Unless you happen to know of a good one - just post the details in the comment box below.

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