People all around the world are dissatisfied with some, or all of the major elements of their lives: work, education, relationships. But the way things are structured in their societies seems to dictate how they live their lives, and there’s no obvious alternative.
Society’s changing fast. Very fast. We’re becoming more aware, more honest with ourselves, because there’s no other direction in which to go.
This new honesty is causing an increasing amount of friction as we struggle to hold onto familiar aspects of life that offer us the security we want, but conflict with our new clarity of vision.
With the best intentions, we constantly adjust our social systems, but still only cosmetic changes are made to a framework built on a weak foundation. The nature of the foundation itself is never questioned or even pondered on for long, because it's inconceivable that we would, or even could, change it. This foundation, the core of society as we know it, is based on a principle that we willingly subscribe to as we grow up: ‘It's more important for you to be useful than it is to be yourself’.
It seems to me this principle is flawed beyond all hope of redemption.
Many of the people who subscribe to a society with this value system are satisfied that this is the best, if not the only way to live. They’ll resist attempts to make anything more than minor changes, and ensure that something closely resembling the status quo is maintained for some time yet. And of course, it has to be observed that among those who are dissatisfied, there are degrees of dissatisfaction: most won’t be willing to make major changes at the expense of what they’ve built up in their lives.
There are, however, some who are in a very unpleasant place. They’re very aware that things as they stand do not work for them, and yet have no idea how to deal with the situation: they ask, ‘What else is there but this?’
So this is what we have to work with, or against...
... Or is it really that clear-cut?
I say it's not. The alternative is to carve out your own way of living, and to quietly get on with it, happily existing alongside society's subscribers, and recognizing their right to do what they want, as well as your own. I can speak from experience, because I’ve taken the steps outlined in this book, and now have a very satisfying life doing what I want every minute of the day, every day.
In the mid-1990s, I took the plunge, and decided that from that moment on, I was going to live my truth, no matter what happened. I went all the way – dropped most of the things in my life that people regard as necessities. Some - perhaps many - who read this book will not be interested in ‘going all the way’. Others might find some of the material useful in their lives, but stop short of going the whole hog.
But I think there’s something in this book for everybody - Whether the reader transforms what they read into action or not, there's the potential for their understanding and acceptance of the many people around the world who are acutely aware that the current social framework doesn't work for them.
It can be a difficult challenge to take a different road, to define and maintain your own way of living - but this is what you must do if you want to actually be yourself. Its achievement requires honesty and a willingness to embrace uncertainty.
Going in, this seems like a very hard ask, and often the convenience of the social collective seems tempting, but once on the road the sense that you’re the author of your life gives you a new freedom, and it's easier to carry on than it is to go back - in fact, the idea of going back is akin to staying in bed all day, rather than getting up and facing life... For when you really face life, you are really alive…
And isn't that what we're here for, after all?