Banishing Self-Indulgence

Earlier today I wrote one of those typical woe is me blog posts, alluding to how hard everything felt, how lacking I was in inspiration etc. But before I posted it I stopped, my finger hovering over the mouse key, and asked myself: What good will it do to share this with the world? It may well be cathartic to get things off your chest, but haven’t you done that just by writing it? Don’t you feel a little lighter as it is? And you know what? I did feel lighter just for having written it. Much like a letter to an ex that never actually gets sent, I had expunged the negative emotions without the need to inflict them upon the world. So that was one thing that happened today.

Another thing that happened was my reading of this article, which can, I believe, be best surmised by the following excerpt:

“The 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.

“We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.”

I don’t know about you, but reading those two paragraphs struck a chord so deep within me that the hairs on my arms stood up of their own volition. Why? Because that person with no time to be ambitious outside work, who feels constantly dissatisfied in a way they struggle to articulate and who spends money they don’t have on ways to make themselves feel better: That person is me. And most likely also many of you. Of course (trust fund children aside) we have to work for a living (and in this respect with a four day week I can complain less than many about my lot), but it’s so true that outside work it takes (what often feels like) a superhuman effort to cultivate the kind of extracurricular activities that leave you feeling wholly satisfied and fulfilled.

But, that aside, the fact is that those with true talent and passion DO manage to make the most of the time they have, no matter how little it is. They don’t sit around complaining about being oppressed and enslaved by the organisations they work for, but rather work out ways to escape their clutches and create opportunities for work – and living – on their terms. Whether incarcerated by consumerism or not, we all have choices. And our choices are the difference between a life of success and a life of failure. Which is a pretty sobering thought.


Onwards and upwards

In the spirit of positivity to which I have become accustomed so far this year, I am refusing to let anything – and I do mean anything – get me down. As long as my friends and family are healthy and happy nothing else matters. Because, when you break it down, everything else in life is just transient. What’s important is the support network you have around you, the people with whom you can be your true self – warts and all. They’re the ones who’ve been beside you through the good times and carried you through the hard times, and they’re the ones who’ll be there for years to come.

I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and that if you’re a fundamentally good and honest person then good things will come your way. Only this afternoon when I’d left my wallet at home and had the sum total of 50p in my pocket to buy lunch, I put my hand into my coat pocket and found a five pound note. That may not seem strange to you, but I’m not the kind of person who leaves money in their pockets. I’ve really no idea how that five pound note got there and I’m sure there’s a very rational explanation, but, whether fate or serendipity in that moment I felt reassured that everything was going to be okay. When I left the shop with a sandwich in my bag I gave the 50p I’d started with to a man who was begging outside. It felt somehow cathartic.

Onwards and upwards is the best mantra to adopt in any negative situation – always believe good things are just on the horizon. What harm can it do?


I took this photo from the balcony of my 5* hotel in Borneo, at the end of my three month volunteer placement with Raleigh International in 2011. It was the end of an amazing journey, which this sunset seemed to perfectly sum up. Now another journey’s drawing to a close and there are exciting times ahead, of that I’m certain.