I read a lot today. I read my own writing, from my first blog post up until now. In hindsight, I believe this blog saved me from a much darker fate. The act of putting something in writing for the world to see, be it an idea or a thought, an emotion or a desire has strengthened my will to achieve my dreams, and I am proud to say that since the time I started writing publicly, my life has completely changed for the better.
It was sad to read many of my posts. The first 3 months I spent blogging was a very bad time in my life, wrought with depression and other vices that were leading me down a rabbit hole I could not see a way out of. The truth of the matter is that I am usually not a very open person. I find it very difficult to confide in people, or even talk about my state in the simplest of terms. Yet in writing, I find myself telling the world, openly, all the things I cannot seem to tell even those people that are closest to me.
I read posts about freedom and failure, materialism and minimalism. I read about my plans to remove all of the clutter from my life and about the way I want to live. As of this moment I am happy with my life. I travel, I see, I do and I feel free. Since leaving Melbourne I have learned, and learned very quickly, just what is important in my life. I own less than I ever thought possible, yet find myself wanting nothing more than a new book occasionally, or a block of chocolate. I live well, I enjoy my work, I eat well and have good accommodation, and all for less than I could have ever imagined.
Perhaps the hardest hitting revelation I had in this process is recalling just how depressed I was in my ‘successful’ life. Were it not for me putting in writing many of my thoughts I would no longer remember just how much I hated my life. The depression I felt now seems so distant, and my blog serves as a reminder to me that my well being is in my own hands. My current situation is a direct effect of acknowledging that I was not happy and making the hard decisions necessary to change. It wasn’t easy. Much of the journey has not been easy. I have had several serious setbacks and many unexpected turns, but never lost sight of my goal. However, no matter how stressful, or how broke and hungry I may have found myself in the process, the depression that once gripped me has loosened its hold and no longer exists.
From the moment we woke, outside was completely white. The kind of white that will only vaguely let you see objects within a few meters.
As usual I prepared for work. As a Lifty we don’t get to choose whether or not we go out. If the conditions are horrific, and we are on the roster, we strap on our boards and get out there. On leaving the accommodation there was no suggestion of heavy winds, only the usual calm of the mountain. I set off on foot to Eagle Chairlift (the usual meeting point for all of us Lifties in the morning) where we waited for all the appropriate clearances, loaded the chairs, and went off to work. But this was no ordinary chair ride.
At the base of Eagle Chair everything seemed normal. A little colder than usual perhaps, but nothing extraordinary. Our ascent began and very shortly I could hear the whistle of the wind. By half way up the Chairlift the wind was extremely heavy. All three of us on the chair were gripping the safety bar as it swayed uneasily in the wind. I remember looking at the chairs returning to the bottom swaying so hard that they were nearly hitting the Lifts columns. About three quarters of the way up, Milli (who was sitting beside me), had her helmet blow completely off her head and into the ‘never to be found again’ unknown.
Eventually we all got to the Top of the Chair and grouped by work buddies for the day (the lifts stopped immediately and went on a wind hold that lasted for two straight days). Milli and I were working at a Lift Station that was at the bottom of a blue and black run area, with some very steep terrain. We skated our boards across to the top of the run we needed to take and strapped our other feet in. The wind was horrible, as we stood up and pointed our boards down the mountain, the wind was smashing ice and snow so hard against us that we were being pushed back up hill. We eventually had to make the decision to unstrap our boards and start trekking down very steep and slippery terrain, straight in to the wind, dragging our boards with us. It took about 15 minutes worth of slowly struggling downhill for us to reach a point at which we could actually strap our boards on and get to work at the bottom.
Once we reached the bottom we were immediately notified of the wind hold situation. Basically it was too dangerous to operate the lifts in such extreme conditions. Unless you happen to be a Lifty of course.
During a wind hold, depending on circumstances, Lifties can end up doing a variety of things. During a wind hold at a bottom station with excessive snow means an entirely shovelling work shift. Unfortunately this was that shift, so we picked up our shovels and started digging. I remember the ice being so hard to break that we were using a hammer drill with a giant ice bit trying to break it up.
I remember standing at the base of the slope looking up the mountain. The air at the base was still but I could see the chairs swinging wildly in the wind above. Most notably I remember staring at the slopes as the high winds picked up all the fresh snow and carried it in wind currents, meandering it up the side of the mountain through the natural features and moguls.
This was one of the most extreme experiences I have ever had, it wasn’t very fun, but I’m so happy I was there to experience it.
Last night offered me only 3 hours sleep. The Snow Season is late but is now ON! In less than 24 hours now I am on my way up to Falls Creek (the snow resort) and I don’t come back.
It’s enlightening to look back at my journey so far. There are so many societal expectations that I have been trying (successfully) to fulfill for such a long time and there are others that I have more quietly completely flunked on. But up until now, I have never really been happy. Of course there have been good days and there are memories that I hold fondly, but if I were to step back and look at my life as a whole, it was never going in a direction that I wanted it to. It has been going in a direction that I felt was expected of me.
I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen with the rest of my life, but I have learned many very important lessons recently. Mainly that there is no point doing something if we don’t enjoy doing it. Secondly, stuff what people think we are meant to do, the only person that can decide on what is best for you is you. There is nothing that we are meant to do. All I choose to do now is keep myself happy and surround myself with good people. I don’t have space left in my life for negativity.
Being happy does not mean life comes without it’s stresses. For the most part I have found a profound peace recently, but anxiety still lingers, every now and then it pops up and I find a sleepless night. Will I run out of money? Will my choice of lifestyle be sustainable? Will I be able to continue to save? However in order to find our place in this world, the place where we find our purpose and are happy, we must face these fears head on. I have already faced my biggest fear, I have left my profession.
So tomorrow, my adventure really begins. The snow is coming. For the next few months I will be the best damn lift attendant on the mountain and on my days off I will forget the past, and forget the future, and live in the moment, with anyone that is willing to share their time with me. Life’s too short. People are too important. I’m looking for some more good people to share my life with.
A few brief words of wisdom from a bearded man to see me off. My next post will be from the Mountain. I’m very excited.
20 days ago I abandoned my career as an Engineer in search of something else, something unknown. I would like to say that my world has been turned upside down, but it’s more true to say that it was already upside down, and that it has now turned the right way up. For the first time in my life I feel truly free.
There are two simple statements that have been resonating with me of late. Two simple statements that can be heard loud and clear by anyone, but take great attention and contemplation to fully understand.
The first is “Just Do It“. Here and now. This really is it. Right now. Next year we will all be older. Soon we will be dead. There are many things I want to do in my life. My biggest hurdle has not been an inability to achieve my goals, but rather an ignorance of my options and a fear of change. What will I do without my high Income? Will I be able to get another Job? Where will I live? These questions only served to keep me still. To keep me stuck in fear of change and perpetually failing to really live the life I have. The future is uncertain. But regardless, it is always possible that I might fail at what I don’t want to do anyway, so why not at least try and do something I really want to do? Why not pick that thing I want to do, and Just Do It?
The second is “Live and Let Live“. I spent too many years in hate. There are many people in this world, and many different ways of life. Yes, there is one and only one truth about life, the Universe and all that is and will ever be, but who am I to think that I am right in what I ‘know’. I may see many beliefs as silly or unwarranted, but who am I to tell anyone what they should or should not believe. We should express ourselves and our thoughts, and we should listen to others, it is the best way to grow in self. But we must learn to just love each other regardless of what we each choose to believe, be it out of introspective conviction, faith, science, ignorance, whatever. I have found great peace in the past weeks by learning to just accept anyone for who they are, regardless of whether they are willing to accept me or not.
These last few weeks have seen me completely lose who I thought I was. I now know, with absolute certainty, that money and happiness have absolutely nothing to do with each other. All of the best memories I have made over the past year have been in the last few weeks.
My First Game of Jenga
A Road Trip Break
Playing Jenga for the first time. Having a secret party under a bridge. Watching the clouds from a mountain top. Road trips. My friends bucks night at the pub. But most of all, what has brought me the most peace and happiness is people. I have met many new and amazing people.
Craigs Bucks Night
Secret Party @ Undisclosed Location
I don’t know where I will be in 4 months. But wherever it is, it will be somewhere I want to be. Otherwise I wont stay.
To be alive. Not to simply exist, but to be free and in control. To be behind the wheel of my own future. To face the uncertain world and flip it off with complete confidence in self.
Over 3 months ago, I started this blog a different man. A man knowing that change had become desperately necessary. Things were not good. A miserable engineer. A desk monkey in debt and swimming in other issues. Reluctantly complying with and singing the ‘professional’ song, I was too close to cracking.
Today my bags are packed, my arms are outstretched, i’m smilling wide and i’m ready to run. The trail is fuzzy and uncertain, each decision a fork in my path. Each day a new opportunity for risk, a new chance to create something beautiful.
I have no idea who I am, but I am happy. I am my own man and the only person making decisions that effect my future. Tomorrow my world turns completely upside down. My old desk now belongs to another. Tomorrow I meet my new colleagues and drive up to Falls Creek (the snow).
We all need to worry less. Life is one big risk. It can and does all go to shit occasionally, but we only get to live it once. Whatever you want to do. Just go do it. Cut out the bullshit and get down to living.
My primary objective is now to live. I want to see and explore. Jump with both feet in the deep end and just see where I end up. Anything is possible. But we have to be prepared to take the risk.
Life is changing. Life must change. People want to protect me, to keep me from making mistakes. People try to guide and mentor, though it’s more and more obvious that everyone is just winging it. No one really knows what it is we are meant to do or where we are meant to be, though many people seem to think they do. When I get to where I want to be, then I will know. But not before.
I’m diving off the deep end. I have been comfortable for years. Though comfort and happiness are not the same. Everything about the rest of my life is completely unknown. The full time professional world quickly blurs our true passions and it is an arduous task to regain clear focus. Without passion life become mundane. We find routine and perpetuate our actions for the sake of comfort and/or a limited certainty. We do all we can to avoid risk and uncertainty.
For years I have been sitting behind desks. My education suggests that by now I should be feeling some sense of achievement. Though whilst I don’t regret my path so far, I certainly feel very little sense of achievement. I am a robot taking commands and following orders in a system that is built solely around profitability and mitigating risk. Growth and advancement in myself during my time at work is stagnant. I am nothing more than another resource. I AM better than this. I have more than this. My personal bar is way higher then this. This industry and these procedures are an insult to my intelligence. The only thing that remaining a professional in my current position guarantees is that I will never even glimpse the lower bounds of my potential.
I’m freaking out. What’s going to happen? Everything at work (for my remaining one and a half weeks) is URGENT. But it always is. I just don’t think I can take this shit any more. This title of engineer holds no value in my eyes. There is no engineering being done here. Computer says no.
That’s enough of a rant.
I need another good mistake. Only through mistakes do I seem to learn anything valuable.
Well today is a big day for me. 3 months ago I had a 10k debt. Today I am well in the positive. From now on it’s about getting ahead rather then making lost ground.
The ways in which I intend to get ahead could very well set me back again. But I don’t (yet) see a way to get significantly ahead without some degree of risk. So I must try something.
Its been really eye opening to come from such horrendous spending habits to a much tighter budget and realize that I am no less happy. In fact I am happier now then I have been in a long time. On top of all this, in just over two weeks now I get to leave a desk in my past and spend the whole of winter on the snow.
We really can do whatever we want with our lives. Though I have subconsciously known this truth for some time, it’s really starting to hit home now. We must be smart and let go of our fears of things to come, and just chase an ideal.
Supposedly, the easiest time to eliminate old habits and form new ones is whilst undergoing a major change in living circumstances. For example moving house. So I figured that given I am going to be moving to Falls Creek for the Snow Season I should start thinking about what habits I currently have that I should cut out and what things might be worth trying to adopt regularly in my life.
In the last 2 months I have already had huge success in changing my lifestyle for the better. Primarily with regards to smoking and excessive spending. Though there is always a way to continue to improve. So what is next? Ironically (though I guess it couldn’t have happened any other way) whilst obsessively scanning facebook yesterday I began stumbling across a whole bunch of content (such as the videos below) regarding how obsessed with technology we have become and how dissociative it can cause us to be.
I definitely spend too much of my time on social media. I have begun to loose the art of conversation and am numb. My phone is always on me and I easily check it 100 times a day. There is only so much I get out of digital conversation. They lack emotion and tone. They are checked and optimized and lack genuine error. I do not truly know the people that I converse with online and they do not know me. What defines us is so much more than anything anyone can write on a screen.
So when I get to Falls Creek, in about a months time, I am going to leave my phone at home during the days. I’m only going to check it in the morning and at night. During the day I am going to commit my complete and full attention to everyone and anyone that wishes to share some of their time engaging with me. I am also going to make an active effort to engage others, simply to share a short moment in friendly conversation. I wish to learn to converse once more and make some new genuine friends. Some friends that get to know who I really am and not how I appear online.
Well. I was going to try and come up with a few new habits to try and adopt, but my work break is nearlyover. Running. I’m going to try and run at least 3 times a week. But lets not commit to too much hey. The phone is already a big one
Followers of this blog will know that I have been rapidly downsizing my life. Getting rid of all the clutter, throwing out all the crap that I have accumulated and trying to figure out what it is that I really need, and what is really important.
Where my things once were
There’s less than 4 weeks now until I take off for Falls Creek for the snow season and I have successfully removed almost all of the material crap from my life. Those things that I have chosen to keep (a few guitars and a telescope) have been rammed into ‘out of the way’ corners at my parents house for storage. The rest of my life, the things I wish to take with me, are getting very close to fitting into a backpack.
After the snow season I don’t yet know what I will be doing, though I was thinking about making a move up to Queensland and spending the whole summer working and surfing. I hope that by cramming everything I need into a backpack that making a move like this may be as simple as just going. Just doing it. Of course if this is the direction that I choose for my next chapter then I will do what I can to pre-organize work and accommodation. But if these things don’t happen, why not just go? Why not just try and wing it? What is the worst thing that can happen?
It hard to be care free. But that is, in part, the aim. What is life if we are not doing the things that we want to do? Or at the very least doing everything in our power to get there? Any one of us could die tomorrow.
Now, after the decision to leave my profession, the sense of ‘running out of time‘ can at times seem overwhelming. Currently, the average life expectancy for males in my approximate age group within Australia is just less than 80 years. This means that, on average, I have the amount of time I have already been alive more than 2 times over again before I die. But I don’t ever get to relive my childhood, I don’t have to learn to walk or talk again. I don’t ever get to go back to high school, I already know how to read and write.
If in the first 26 years of my life, from a foundation of nothing I can come this far, how much can I achieve in the next 26 years. Though it is correct to say that I am starting financially again at $0, I am not starting from scratch. I now have experience, education, knowledge and will. We have a lot more time than we know, it only matters to recognize its potential and how we use it.
I am now 833,562,612 seconds old. Did I use these 786 seconds effectively?