My newest Hero: an Unlikely gent. Tom Hodgkinson


My whole life I have lived under the premise that to get anywhere in life you must work hard.  To find happiness you have to work for it. To find love you must really work for it.  As of May this year, I have torn off my garments and run free.  No I am not running around the city nude, but I have bared my soul and taken to stripping down life to the bare minimum.

As of May, I quit my job of nine years to bike across the continent and came back to just be present.  I found a place to rent for minimal funds.  I found a job that is overtly flexible, fun and non-stressful.  I have basically found that you do not have to work at anything.  What you need to do is understand how much work you want to put forth and how many experiences you want to have.  You then have to figure out ways to balance the two.

I heard about this book a month or so ago.  I looked it up and then went on a search to find it.  I tried second-hand stores, I tried indy book stores, but alas I had to set up an Amazon account just to get my hands on this book.  “How to be Free”, by Tom Hodgkinson, is likely the greatest $8 book I will ever own.  I am only a chapter in and find it to brilliant, yet easy to read.  It helps that I have similar life views, so I get what is being said.

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So if you are tired of the rat race and the constant traffic issues, and you want to have a better life, learn to take control by letting go. It is so simple.  I wish I could convey the message and eloquently as he does, but alas, I am not a writer.  I have a hard enough time staying in the same tense throughout a paragraph, let alone the same voice.

First off, I read that this book was based out of French Existentialism.  I was curious as to what that actually was, so I looked up some authors and ended up with a speech and an essay by Jean-Paul Sartre.  Considering it is translated from French to English and that I am not a philosopher, this small volume is a very tough read.  I also have this socialistic/anarchist book called Work.  It is easier to create change if you realize how we got where we are.  I am still a hater of economics, but I need to understand them to move forward and find a new way.

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I also understand that for most drastic changes are impossible, basically due to their inability to let go.  If you are not able to see life outside of your technology, you will never understand the way I want to live my life. I want to be free.  I want to be happy and I most certainly want to live life rather than own it.  You cannot live if you are wound up about things you own.  I know this, because I was there.  For the first time in my life, my mother, yes my mother, spoke up for me about this.  When I was married, my husband had to have everything right now.  We were so far in debt, but it was always my fault, because I went to school.  I always let him make me feel guilty about it.  My mother informed me that it was all him, it was always him.  For the first time in my life, my mother validated me, which is a huge step for us.

What happens when you start acquiring stuff, is that you lose site of important things like relationships and doing stuff.  I realized this week that in the last month I have spent more time camped in front of the TV than I have in the past 10 years combined.  Sad thing is that I lost most of that month and did not even realize it.  I have not had cable and so much free time before, I guess I lost myself in it.  This was the first political season that I actually saw campaign ads, and I was horrified by them.

feet planted on this planet

So going back to the book, if you let go of those things in the modern world and return to have real relationships with real people and experience life for real, you too can be free.  I am not saying throw out your TV and phone, but more about turning them off and going out for  a bit daily.  Find a piano bar and drink fine wine and good ales, eat real food, sing songs with real people and learn to be happy.  I have found peace with my past, now I must find peace with my present, so I can face my future with peace.  Letting go allows a whole ton of amazing to happen.

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