I Am Jack’s Reflective Rant
In the six months since I’ve left my old life behind and embarked on this new existence of minimalism, nomadic existence and lifestyle revision, I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for the simplification and pure joy of living that such an approach begets. I’d say that the seeds were planted in 1999 when I sat in the theater and saw (for me) the life-changing, movie Fight Club for the first time. I was enamored by it’s philosophy of living in the now, keeping it simple, doing what you love and even then at an impressionable young age, it inspired me to make some radical changes to my life (abandon the corporate path I was on, become a teacher, live a more simple materialistic free life)
With more accrued life experience I’ve been able to make the changes in order to more fully realize what I want out of this short existence. Although I’m not the intrepid explorer some people are, I’ve had some amazing experiences and adventures over the past few months and I can now look back at some of the massive changes I’ve made and see with more clarity, the nonsense that was encumbering me from fully living a life more congruent with what I want.
A list of some of the things I don’t miss inspired by some quotable Tylerisms.
The things you own end up owning you –
Chucking out all my crap or passing it onto someone else was as cathartic as it was life-changing. Most people won’t do it though because they’re too attached to shit they think defines them. Toys and trinkets will never fill the emotional and existential void many are compensating to fill, and the debt accrued will keep you a slave to working a job you hate in order to pay for shit you don’t need. To help people make a start with abandoning the consumerist and hoarder mentality, sites promoting minimalism exist challenging people to whittle their possessions down to 100 items. In my opinion, that’s still 50 items too many. I used to be a total clothes whore(se) owning a cupboard full of shit and still managing on a daily basis unable to find anything to wear. Breaking it down to 2 pairs of shorts, a pair of jeans, some tank tops, a handful of t shirts and 2 pairs of shoes removes the paradox of choice and has made life infinitely more simple. I bought a 10 dollar tank top the other day to replace a year old one I’ve worn into the ground and I still felt a twinge of guilt at such a lavish expenditure. Rent, but never buy is my new approach to minimizing material encumbrance in life. The only purchases I won’t compromise on is good quality food, books and new experiences. Feeding the mind, body and soul is what equates to optimal living.
You’re not the car you drive – This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.
If freedom can be equated with receiving our drivers license and first set of wheels, it’s with some irony that it’s even more liberating when you can finally dispense of any need for a car at all; think no more traffic, maintenance, insurance or lines at the gas station paying inflated highly taxed prices to robber-baron oil companies. The best decision you can make if you have a long commute is the trouble saving option of moving closer to your destination or CBD. Walk, car pool or do whatever it takes to abandon that metal coffin that has you inching along a freeway with those other poor souls for those precious hours every day of your life. Walking is its own form of meditation and a kick ass form of steady state cardio that keeps me lean effort free.
You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank
“Do something that you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” the saying goes. Bullshit. Passion comes from the Latin word meaning “to suffer” and no matter how much you love your job, there’s a high level of Groundhog Day familiarity that comes with showing up at the same place, seeing the same people and having the same conversations day after day. I love what I do and give 100% of my energy and focus while I’m there, but you can only give 100% before the specter of burnout starts tugging at your shirt sleeve. Kids are the most energy demanding clientele (albeit also the most fun and rewarding) and teaching has evolved to a ridiculous level of complexity that’s insistent on daily reinvention of the wheel and accountability to arbitrary, pendulum swinging bureaucratic mandates. There’s no surprise that even in a profession that attracts idealists wanting to make a difference, there’s an 80% attrition rate in the first five years. It’s amazing how little you need to live on once your free yourself of the need to acquire consumer crap. Picking and choosing to work on your own terms avails you of new avenues for thought and creativity making you the master of your precious and finite time.
We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear.
In a nutshell, fuck Facebook and social media! That all too familiar daily routine; logging into Facebook upon waking, updating, checking replies, responding to threads, repeat, repeat, repeat – was not only a colossal waste of time in retrospect, but I found I was also becoming voluntarily embroiled in the drama and negativity part and parcel to social networking. Facebook etc is a huge strain on one’s mental bandwidth for so little return and does more harm to the psyche than good. Being “friends” with a large number of people belonging to the bodybuilding subculture, I was becoming “overexposed” to daily doses of motivation, bodybuilding “experts”, and vanity projects that were inversely affecting my own desire for the sport.
We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t.
Not that I was a big follower of pop culture to begin with, but its insidiously ubiquitous bombardment is hard to escape when you’re surrounded by daily reminders of cultural mimicry. The most pernicious infiltration often occurs at the gym in the form of the repetitive music playlists that even the strongest pair of Dre Beats can’t block out. The messages of pop culture exist only to reinforce the messages of consumerism, undermine your own self worth and keep you constantly seeking validation.
We have no great war, no great depression. Our war is spiritual. Our great depression is our lives.
What happens when a nation’s people enjoys a history of rarely having it’s character tested? Welcome to Australia. We are one of the few countries in the world to barely feel the ravages of war, natural disaster or pestilence on our home soil. We have beauty and abundance in every sense of the word. We are blessed with clean air, water and economic prosperity that barely felt a tinge of the recent global financial crisis. We enjoy some of the best free health care, public education systems and government social welfare programs so that (involuntary) poverty is negligible. Rather than produce an advanced citizenry and a kick ass populace taking advantage of such gifts, we’ve evolved into a nation of the most entitled, whiny, anti-intellectual douchebags on the planet governed by perhaps one of the most over-reactive nanny states. We have a reputation for being “easy going, chilled, fun loving, sports crazy people”. Yet the levels of obesity, laziness and wanton violence makes living in this, the world’s first fully realised Idiocracy a soul destroying experience for anyone not the genetic offspring of cousins or possessing a degenerative brain disease. Seeing the recent pathetic spectacle of two of the country’s richest men making international headlines for brawling in the streets like common proles, you know you gotta buy a one way ticket to anywhere but fucking here.
No class differences in Australia because no class to begin with.
And the women…
There’s something about Australia’s geographic isolation that makes Australian women, more so than any others in the world possess an inflated sense of self worth and entitlement that’s second to none. They lack the femininity and beauty of Asians, the grace and refinement of Eastern Europeans and the sophistication and education of Western Europeans. What do we have instead? Drinking, brawling, ultra feminist-wilder-beasts who hit their expiry date well before their 25th birthday.
This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time is an alarm bell that should be ringing in our heads to constantly remind us that our time is limited and to never endure that which we have the power to change. Shit job? Change it. Crappy relationship? Change it. Boring life? Change it. Working out and the effects it has on our bodies and minds is a powerful metaphor and a reminder that we can affect the same kinds of changes in any other area of choice too.