Once a year, around this time, I usually take a look back to see where I am in my world as compared to where I was when I began this adventure of Living Free. It's now about six years from the time I started this blog and five and a half years from when I dove head first into the new world of living free without a fixed home or business location. I have since come to call it being happily houseless and location independent. So, here's my six-year report. The original post (excerpted) from February 2008 is copied below. My updates are in italic bold. The original post begins now . . .
This blog is about exactly what the title states - “living and working free.” Now, to make sure this concept is perfectly clear, I DO NOT mean living FOR free or working FOR free. I mean living and working freely under our own rules, terms and conditions for our lifestyles and work styles. And, it is important to note that there are no rules, terms or conditions carved in stone that tell us how we should live or how we should work. The only rules are those that we each establish for ourselves in our own hearts and minds . . . unless we adopt the rules, conditions and terms that others may want to impose on us. This still holds except it is more apparent then ever that we are a society of laws, rules, regulations and they are imposed on us by a government that is becoming more oppressive . . . in my opinion.
My postings here are going to be based on MY feelings, opinions, concepts, wants and needs. What I say may or may not apply to you – or perhaps only parts of what I say may apply to you. So, do not, under any circumstances, consider anything I say here to be gospel. What I say only pertains to me and my life. The operative word in all of this is “FREE!” I hope by posting my thoughts and feelings here that I might be able to instill a feeling of freedom in each person who lands on this blog and chooses to read it. Will it change your life? I sure hope so, but not to my benefit and credit – rather to your own benefit and credit. I stand by these statements.
This is beginning as a blog. A podcast will follow very shortly. Six years and counting. No podcast, yet, although I have been gathering material that may one day find it's way into podcast form.
Money is not the only measure of success. You can't buy happiness with money, but it can make life more comfortable. Everyone needs some money to sustain whatever lifestyle they choose for themselves. The real issue, too often, is that we don't determine what REALLY makes us happy and fulfilled. So, we tend to center ourselves around a JOB and the largest amount of MONEY we can get and we spend 30, 40, 50 years of our lives slaving at some job that, statistically, is unfulfilling to more then 70% of the workforce. Our most valuable – actually priceless – commodity is slipping by virtually unnoticed UNTIL we reach or pass middle age and wonder where all the TIME of our lives went. This continues to be true with the exception that over the past six years the "middle-class" has diminished in size as a percentage of our population. The poverty level has increased as a percentage of the population. Income, generally for those not in the top ten percent income bracket (and especially the top one percent) has declined significantly and with it, debt seems to have increased and lifestyle has been negatively impacted. Finally, the top one percent income bracket has become obscenely wealthier at this same time.
So, living and working free means determining in your own mind and heart what is REALLY IMPORTANT to you, creating a lifestyle that reflects what really fulfills you and sets you free to enjoy the TIME of your life. It means finding work that you find fulfilling and you can enjoy and even be passionate about. . . . I am really no longer willing to sacrifice my priceless time to do anything that I don't want to do, don't like doing or just, in general, I find a waste of my time. I will only “trade” my time for “money” when what I'm doing with that time is fulfilling, satisfying and enjoyable – in my personal opinion (and no one else's opinion really counts since it's my life and my time). Again, I stand by this paragraph. Nothing has changed in my mind.
So, that's what this blog is all about. I'll expose you to ideas, concepts, opportunities, lifestyles, work styles, people, places and so on. I very much invite your comments and if you have something you'd like me to post as part of this blog – submit it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . . . I'll also go on a rant once in a while, so be prepared. There are a lot of injustices, incompetence, inconsiderateness, etc. in this world – well, whoever said this world or life was fair, anyway – but it's still my prerogative to rant on my own blog. I believe I have delivered on everything I said I would in this paragraph. I have changed my email address (and inserted it above). I also have eliminated the rules for leaving comments because I've found that the readers of this blog are, like me, very civil. However, I still watch the comments and I've had to begin using a "captcha" security plug-in to eliminate the multitude of computer/automated spam comments I began receiving. I guess that's a sign of success of sorts. The blog has been found.
In closing this first, introductory post, I want to give credit to a book and its author as my inspiration for this blog. The book is Working Free: Practical Alternatives to the 9 to 5 Job by John Applegath. The book was published in 1982. I read it in 1986 or 1987 and it took me 20 years to, finally, locate the author. I spent three terrific days with John in Durham, NH and found him to be delightful. I have yet to visit with John Applegath again, but I'm planning a trek to New York State and New England in about a month (June and July '14). I plan to be up in that region revisiting places and people from my youth and earlier adult life. And, as always, I'll be exploring many areas in that part of the U.S. that I have not been to before. I'm also hoping to meet, as I usually do, lots of interesting new people along the way. One part of the plan is to visit with John Applegath again. He has, since my last visit, been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. If any of you blog readers are in the New York State and New England region and would like to meet up, please drop me a note so I can see how and when such a visit might fit into my itinerary (which I'm currently planning).
Another person you'll hear from and whose book also was an inspiration is Barbara Winter, whose book, Making a Living Without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work that You Love, is still in print, I believe. She was easier to track down and I have been in contact with her by e-mail and phone. Barbara and I have not yet met in person, but I intend to meet her this summer in Las Vegas. I reported in an earlier update of this post that I didn't attend that podcasting conference and still haven't made it to Las Vegas. However, I also mentioned that I did meet up with Barbara in Sedona, Arizona at a workshop in April of 2010. Delightful. And, I am actually planning to finally get to Las Vegas late this year, probably November or December when I'll be trekking throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. I'll be leaving the east coast the very end of September or by the first of October. Once again, any blog readers between WV and Texas (I'll announce my route when I have it planned) and in Texas and the other states mentioned who want to meet up with me, drop me an email so I can see how it will work into my itinerary. I look forward to meeting up with you. I'm also looking forward to meeting up with some bloggers who I follow while I'm in that part of the U.S.
So, that covers the update on the original "Welcome to My World" post that kicked this blog off on February 6, 2008. As you can tell from the inline commentary above, this blog and I have remained pretty true to what the objective was when I started it.
I've Grown and Changed
What has changed is yours truly, ME, the happily houseless, location independent, nomadic, living free idealist. I've grown in many ways. The changes and the growth are reflected in this blog. Of course, that was really one of my objectives in creating and maintaining the blog. It is a chronicle, if you will, of who I was and who I'm becoming. Notice I didn't say who I have become. Life, as we all seem to allude to, is a continuous journey all ending at the same ultimate destination. Thus, I find I am always becoming and never become. It's a process of change and growth.
When I began this adventure and lifestyle change I felt that I needed a 40-foot, diesel powered, motor coach for my mobile lifestyle. Something held me back from making that move. As I did my research and learned more and more about the mobile lifestyle and myself, I realized that more (bigger) wasn't necessarily better for me. I began thinking smaller. I have continued to expand on the concept that not only can less be more, but it is more. I have become involved in a few RV forums on the Internet and learned massive amounts of information and knowledge from those living the lifestyle I thought I wanted.
Then, due to a series of circumstances, I ended up purchasing another high-top conversion van (replacing one I had sold not long before) and went to the opposite extreme. That is, I went from believing I needed that 40 foot motor coach to live the lifestyle I thought I wanted to realizing that what I really wanted was simplicity, frugality and as small a "footprint" as could reasonably accommodate my basic living needs. I joined some Internet forums about "vandwelling" and found that I was much more in tune with this kind of lifestyle.
I have also released most feelings of personal imprisonment. Some of this has been in the form of self-imposed stress. Some has been in the form of emotional and psychological traps. I've have become very comfortable as a loner and solo traveler. I've accepted that while I never say never, I am no longer looking for a "soul mate" or compatible partner. Maybe that might still happen, but not because I'm seeking anyone. I guess I'm willing to just allow nature to take its course. I've accepted that I'll never accomplish or realize all of the dreams I've carried with me since my youth and added over a lifetime. I will die one day with "unfinished business," as does everyone.
I've also accepted that, while I've had a fantastic professional career as an entrepreneur, primarily in the audio/sound/recording and video production industries, I've become a dinosaur. While some of my contemporaries are still working their hearts out at staying current and relevant in business and the electronic media I've so enjoyed, I no longer have the desire or drive to play in that "sandbox" anymore. I'm not exactly throwing in the towel, per se. I'm simply accepting my own inadequacies and the aging process. Years ago, while I was still in the earlier phases of my professional career, I met a man in my profession of "advanced age," probably about my current age. I gained insight from him, but viewed him as a dinosaur. I wondered how he felt at his age about his profession and position in the industry at that time. Now, I know the answer to that.
During this five and a half years of my living free, alternative lifestyle I've done my best to keep as current as possible with world, national and local happenings, technology, my industry, the financial world, politics, etc. What I've realized is that it's way too complex to keep up with it all. Even my 35-year-old son (he's two years older now than I was when he was born) says, in some ways, even he's beginning to feel like a dinosaur already. So, how can I hope to keep up? Thus, I've begun to "let it go." By that I mean that I don't get into debates/arguments over politics with anyone anymore. There's no percentage in it. Despite all those who believe we still (if ever) actually have some voice in our government and society, I see it all as a game of pawns. There is a ruling class and they run everything, despite what the populace wants. So, why waste precious time on something that I can't do anything about. The same holds for the other issues I mentioned.
It's taken the six years since I launched this blog and the five and a half years since I made my major lifestyle change to realize and accept that the ONLY thing I have, perhaps, a reasonable amount of control over is my own life. When I started out in this alternative lifestyle adventure, I believed that I knew something that no one else had figured out and, I guess, I had a bit of a 'superiority' attitude. Those who didn't see my way, as the truth and light, the "gospel of freedom," if you will, were the losers. Today, I've accepted that I was one of them for most of my life. It's all about choices. I'm very happy with mine. I believe a lot, perhaps, many or most others, choosing a more traditional, mainstream lifestyle, are not very free or happy. I'm quite willing to share anything anyone wants to know about me and my current, living free, lifestyle. But, I make no judgment. They choose to live how they desire and that is fine by me. I guess it's sort of a "live and let live" attitude that I've grown into.
Everyday is an Opportunity for Personal Growth
Everyday is an opportunity for each of us. Some days I experience great "aha's," meet or communicate with others of like mindsets and different mindsets and discover new places and things of interest. I'm seldom ever bored and, as a single, loner, I'm never lonely. There are other days when, frankly, I squander the time on mindless pursuits, yet don't feel guilty since it's my choice how I spend my precious time.
As I've looked back at many of the older posts in this blog, I can see these changes in attitude and mindset. I can see where, at certain times, I've pontificated on some topics. Yet, I also find pearls of wisdom that only can be acquired and shared by trial and error, maintaining an open mind and continuing to allow all of my senses experience life as much as I choose to. I share these pearls of wisdom, with you, my reader. I still don't expect you to take everything I offer here as gospel according to Ed Helvey, but if you do gain some insight that assists or helps you in anyway to evolve, grow and improve your life and perception, whether I know about it or not, I'm gratified. In about a year I'll revisit this first post again and determine what new growth I've experienced.