If you know me, then you know that I’m mostly laid back, very organised and anal about time. But I’m not one of those rush-rush anal about time people, I’m more the laid back perfectionist type, the one who likes to make sure that I’ve overbooked a little extra so that I can enjoy the process, not just rush through everything.
Growing up in the Caribbean definitely had its perks. I can easily put everything aside and just enjoy a cool breeze, or stop to notice flowers or even just enjoy my daily coffee of which I consume copious amounts. Rumination is my meditation. Through deep thought, I can easily transport myself back to a veranda in the Northern Range, where all you could hear is the quiet buzz of nature and the feel the cool air dancing on your skin. The forest ahead is misty even though the sun is warm, and the birds sing like there’s no tomorrow. If ever I feel a cool breeze, which is very common in the UK (I mean it’s freezing here most days compared to the hot Caribbean sun), I just close my eyes and think of those days spent in Asa Wright, drinking fresh sweet coffee on their veranda. That was my favourite place in the world. Not the beaches, not the party streets, that veranda.
But then I open my eyes and I’m here, in the UK, in the middle of the hustle in one of the busiest countries in the world. And I look around at the people and scenes around me, wondering what part they play in this meticulous concoction of tasks and deadlines. Are they happy? Do they truly like what they do? Do they enjoy their lives? I have asked a few people, randomly, if they were happy and what would make them happier. Money seemed to be the consensus, with a couple mentioning better health as they are chronically ill. But in order to attain more money, one must sacrifice more of their time and happiness to this pursuit, which when you think of it, is maddening. They would sacrifice their happiness to get more money which they thought would make them happier… but you’ve sacrificed the happiness along the journey! It baffles me.
I am very lucky. I talk about on this blog all the time, and I am very grateful. Don’t think that I take these current blessings for granted. Past experience has made me acutely aware of how impermanent everything in life is. I am currently in a position where I can live, make as little or as much money as I want, and breathe. I can be as aggressive as I need to be, or as relaxed as I want. I am in total control of my work life, and to a very large extent my personal life. Being debt free is a game changer. But it was also a difficult journey.
Getting into debt is more scary than the idea of marriage for me, and they are both quite terrifying, especially when you look at how easy you can get into both, and how painful it is to get out. It’s like taking a fun water slide into shark infested waters, getting dumped into the deepest point about 300m from the shore with a little cut on your toe. It’s a very quick and fun ride into the water, but getting out alive, without being dismembered, now that’s the real task. No one works towards anything anymore. They go get the designer shoes or the expensive phone because they can just whack it on a credit card and forget about it in that moment. Instant gratification.
And this is what feeds that hustle lifestyle. Nice clothes, holidays abroad and an expensive car are nice to have, but they are also things that are designed to keep everyone chained to a desk forever. While some people will argue that people can choose what they want to do with their lives, sometimes, they get themselves into debt to either make other people happy or to keep up appearances. The latter should be considered an illness, because no one should be made to believe that they have to put themselves in a precarious position to keep up appearances, yet many of us do. Our relationship with money is tied directly to our relationship with happiness, and that is what fuels this hustle lifestyle, making us more stressed and more unhealthy than ever before.
So while I know that my way may not be the right way, I’m happy in myself to know that I am not going to be just another cog in a massive wheel, that I am not going to be a voluntary slave to ensure that I have the latest phone because I need to keep up with “friends” and I’m not going to make myself unhappy knowing that I am working for nothing. Money is a tool; that’s all it is, and once you learn to wield that tool, you’ll be much happier for it. I’ll continue to pour my soul into work that makes me happy, rather than be a slave to an outdated system. Might be an unpopular opinion, but I have some sort of control over how I spend my time. Because in the end, we do not have a lot of time and it’s something that’s once it’s lost, it’s gone. Forever.