Freedom is the possibility of isolation. You are only free if you can withdraw from men and feel no need to seek them out for money, or society, or love, or glory, or even curiosity, for none of these things flourish in silence and solitude. If you cannot live alone, then you were born a slave. Though you may be possessed of every superior quality of spirit and soul, you are still nothing more than a noble slave or an intelligent serf, you are not free. But that is not your tragedy, for the tragedy of being born like that is not yours but Destiny’s. Woe betide you, though, if the very weight of life itself makes you a slave. Woe betide you if, having been born free and capable of providing for yourself and leading a separate existence, penury forces you into the company of others. That tragedy is yours alone, which you alone must bear.
Some people are suited to work. Almost everybody, in fact, but good luck getting them to admit it. A UBI would destroy the average man, turn him into a criminal, a drug addict, a member of the Underclass. At the very least make him fat. Most people get meaning, social connection and a sense of accomplishment from work. They get promotions and go up levels and receive new desks and baubles and recognition, just like in a computer game. For that matter, I don’t enjoy computer games much either.
As a young man, like every other troubled young man with more brains than sense, I read Notes From The Underground and it, like, really spoke to me, man, I really got it. And all that nonsense. We were supposed to view the narrator with contempt, but I kinda liked him. He’s a lot like me – weird, oversensitive, unpopular, arrogant and he probably smells bad too. He says at the start that he’d inherited a little money from an aunt and that it was just enough for him to retire and live a frugal life without needing to go out into the world and do any more work.
I thought, I’d kiss a cow’s arse for that. I’d give my left ball for that. I’d draw my Gran’s beating heart and present it to munificent Kali for that. Think of it! Never needing to work, ever again! Being free!
The reader might here be misunderstanding me. I’m not especially lazy – having things to do is fine. Rather, what I abhor about work, and I think here I’m as one with Pessoa, is needing to deal with people. All day, every day. All those workplace dramas, politics and stresses, faux pas, lunatics, angry people, disappointed faces, mistakes, inadequacies, insecurities, and on and on.
To be free of it . . .
Not free to necessarily sit on a beach and drink cocktails, or to work on magnificent projects, or to chase magnificently nubile ladies. Just free to not have to deal with all of that trouble. Not rapture, not ecstasy; just a mild and reasonable freedom, like what an eccentric English gentleman might once have had when he collected stamps or shrunken Papuan heads.
I think this is what my life has always been leading to, though I did not always know it. From the first moment I became aware of this concept of freedom, it has had an allure for me like that which gold, power, fame, fast cars or beautiful women have for other men. Saving money instinctively, without budgeting, is a natural outgrowth of this underlying desire to be at peace.
Work is not the same for all of us. For some it is a daily horror. Any job would be so for us – perhaps aside from home-based stenography – because it involves being out there in a world we would prefer to avoid as much as possible.
I like to go out sometimes – once or twice a week is good – but that is enough. The rest of the time I prefer to be secluded. I live like that on my breaks and it is not glorious, it is just . . . peaceful. Quiet. After holidays colleagues say I look different – cheerful, relaxed; my face gets fatter and I sometimes even smile. Yes, me – smile! Might I one day become one of those smiley people, like Jonty Rhodes? Oh, that might be going too far. Way too far. I generally wear a beset and mournful expression. But perhaps I might one day look less beset and mournful. I guess that would be an improvement.
Luisman worries I’ll blow all my money. Adam reckons I’ll get bored. Well . . . soon we shall know. For whatever goes wrong in my new life, you can expect to encounter reams of whining about it here on the People’s Blog. So you’ve got that to look forward to.
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