15. Leisure

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They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold; and I deem them mad because they think my days have a price.

– Kahlil Gibran

All this serious talk about social and ecological crises, obsolete cultural stories and resource depletion is a bit too much for my little brain sometimes. Questioning life, and exploring its mysteries, I believe is an inevitable consequence of having a healthy and relatively free mind, but it should never get in the way of the real point of life: loving every minute of it.

It is a common perception that a money-free life must be a dour, boring existence with little to do. I would argue the polar opposite – that living without money and creating your own fun and adventure is much more exciting than passively watching others do it for you. Reality TV is the posterboy of a culture that consumes instead of plays.

When you disconnect from the world of high technology and reconnect with Nature, you stop becoming a consumer of life and finally begin participating in it, like you did as a child. Is listening to an album on your iPod, taking in a movie at the cinema, or going to the pub for a bottle of ice-cold American beer really the fullest expression of the human potential that lies inside us? Imagine a society where we made our ales and ciders together, before drinking them around a campfire whilst singing, dancing and playing music together. A world where we spent our days meeting our needs in ways that integrated pleasure and creativity, where one day we’d be making a table, the next day planting some acorns, and in the evenings telling stories, learning chords, playing chess using pieces we hand-carved ourselves, and generally making merry. After all these years of being told moneyless living must be boring, I would love for someone to finally explain to me how participating in life could be less fun that just consuming it.

There is so much each of us could do in life, so much to experience and wonder at, yet we spend much of our time working around the clock just to pay for things that we don’t really need and which eventually end up owning us. As Epicurus once pointed out, there are two ways of getting rich: increasing your financial wealth, or decreasing your desires. Every bill or expense you can eliminate from your life means that you get to spend more of your precious time here doing the things you really want to do and less of the time doing things that you have to do to pay the bills. Reducing your outgoings means regaining control over your life and it affords you the time to work on whatever projects you want. It buys you the time to get creative, learn something new or volunteer for a project you believe in. The closer you reduce these bills and desires to zero, the closer you are to complete freedom. Let go of your addictions and you will soon regain the freedom to spend your days doing whatever the hell you like.

Far be it from me to tell you how to have fun. However, because our cultural conditioning has lead us to the point where we now equate fun with the consumption of externally created entertainment, I’ve gently suggested a few examples of how you can put the DIY back into enjoying yourself.