After his experiment of living alone in the woods for a year, Thoreau discovered that by living a life of voluntary simplicity he could meet all his expenses 'by working about six weeks a year.' This left him with the whole of his winters, and most of his summers free. Having secured his freedom, which is what he sought, he had no reason to envy (and indeed had reason to pity) the 'succesful' capitalists, merchants, shopkeepers, mechanics, farmers, lawyers, doctors etc, etc, who were money rich , but time poor. He commented that those who spent their time earning superfluous money deserved some credit for not having committed suicide long ago- 'Their highest duty in life to accumulate coloured paper. Does any divinity stir within them? What are their destinies worth compared to coloured paper?'
The following passage continues this belief.
'Those slight labours which afford me a livelihood, and by which it is allowed that I am to some extent serviceable to my contemporaries, are as yet commonly a pleasure to me, and I am not often reminded that they are a necessity So far I am successful. But I foresee that if wants should be increased, the labour required to supply them would become a drugery. If I should sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I am sure that for me there would be nothing worth living for. I wish to suggest that a man may be very industrious, and not spend his time well. There is no more fatal blunder than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting a living.'
A recent article written by an end of care nurse echoed this sentiment. She reported that the most common regret amongst the dieing was that they had spent too much of their time working, when the time could have been spent doing something they truely enjoyed.
I know this, have always known this, even in previous times when I worked alot. I will never work large hours for long periods of time again. My time is more valuable to me than a 52" T.V, or a big house with a big mortage. My value of time dictates I travel by bus, train or bike. The only status symbol I seek is in terms of free time.
I spend large amounts of time thinking.
'What do you really want to do Dennis?' 'Which career would you ultimately like to pursue?'
I think of none.
Eventually I will need some money, and the only way to legally obtain it is by working. Would I be able to earn enough in 6 weeks to last all year? Short of crab fishing in the Bearing Sea, I doubt it. But this view does provide me with hope. Work just the season / part of the season you need to, save and live the rest of the year off the proceeds. Work in an intense short burst is something even I can get my head round.
I hate the English winters. By Christmas my fragile brain chemistry is shot. I hate the darkness. I hate the dull, grey days. I yearn for sun, for adventure.
This summer I will be here. I may be working, but only in a job which demands no responsibility, no stress. Probably minimum wage. Definately minimum time. The light days will provide mornings and late evenings on the beaches and hills.
In the winter I will be gone.
Summer then Winter, Summer then Winter.