A Potato's Progress

I thought maybe you'd like to see how my potato growing experiment is going. Well, it's going well. Here is some photographic evidence:

The First World Problem

"We won't let you starve".  That was one of the first things my mum said to me when I told her I was giving up working full time and money was going to become more scarce for me from now on.  She meant of course that if I did start to struggle to pay the rent or the bills, she had money available to help me out.  My parents are not rich, in comparison to probably most of their peers, but certainly come under that middle class umbrella of the "comfortably off".  When my grandad died four years ago, my dad (his only child) inherited the house he left behind, which my parents then sold to pay for their own.  When they die, I can safely assume that my sister and I will inherit half of this house each, which we will then of course be free to do with as we liked.  If they died suddenly and unexpectedly today, needless to say I would immediately sell my half.  I believe they paid around £230,000 for their home, so let's assume I would be able to pocket around £100,000.  Assuming - and why not? - that I can simplify my life at least in line with the rate of inflation, living exactly as I do now, I could live off this money about another 100 years  Facetious as it may seem to think about my own parents in such calculating terms, and don't think for a moment that I wish for any such thing, numbers don't lie; and on the conservative assumption that the indefinite life extension technology that is apparently on the horizon will not become available in time (or if it did, they would have no great interest in using it) death is inevitable.  Add to this the fact that with ten years experience of working in health and social care, I could walk into a minimum wage-paying job tomorrow if I chose to (believe me, pretty much anybody in the UK without a criminal record could, even without experience) and I can safely assume that more or less whatever happens, I'm not ever going to be destitute.

In Praise of The Quiet Life

The School of Life is a very presentable little YouTube channel, covering all kinds of philosophical/spiritual issues from Marxism to Buddhism, Wittgenstein to Adam Smith, consumerism to sexual deviance.  The sort of thing that should have a lot more views in this day and age: pleasant introductions to what really matters in life: ideas.

Here's one of my favourites, for obvious reasons:

Next Steps

Three months into my experiment, I realise I've hit a rut.  This is frustrating.  By nature I'm a lazy person, and this part of me is starting to take control.  It occurred to me recently that if I suddenly won the lottery (unlikely, as I don't usually play) I would probably do very little but eat, read, fart about on the internet, and sleep.  I say to myself I'd start up all kinds of ambitious, radical and charitable projects for the betterment of the human race (myself included) but I don't think that's the truth.  I'd stay inside, away from things that annoy me.  Which is a lot of things.  Actually nearly all of the things.

The thought occurs to me now that the medication I've been taking for the last eleven years - Fluoxetine, better known as Prozac - may have something to answer for here.  Eleven years is a long time.  Perhaps laziness is only second nature, and not my first.  From a teenager to the age of about 21, my brain was burning with ideas I could barely contain.  I used to write music and poetry and scraps of novels and stories, and let myself be taken over by the ecstasy of the creative urge as often as it called.  It was terrible and it was wonderful and gave me joy.  Then it faded, to cut a long story short.  I went off the rails, if I was ever on them to begin with, my mind full of nothing but horrible self-destructive images that terrified me half to death for just long enough before Prozac came along and gave me a liveable life again.

Survival has meant compromise.  I developed 'Pure O' OCD, a generally 'unseen' condition that's horrible even to describe, let alone experience, after a sudden onset in my final year of university.  Life was good at the time - I loved being a philosophy student and why the symptoms came on as they did, and so suddenly, had no obvious psychological explanation.  I wasn't feeling anxious or depressed.  Life was simple and carefree.  I wonder if the mental stimulation of reading and studying day after day triggered something in my brain to slow me down.  It didn't seem like that at the time, but if so, that certainly worked.  I haven't really been able to concentrate on anything so intensely since.  And that's what I want to do: concentrate.

So now I'm faced with the choice of weaning myself off a medication that has effectively kept me alive into adulthood.  I went to see my GP last week to ask about this.  He said it was a matter of "balancing risk".  This was an intelligent observation.  On the dose of 60mg, I can wean myself down to 40mg, and then to 20mg, dropping the dose each month.  If it doesn't work - and by "doesn't work", I mean if symptoms become intolerable again, I can always up the dose again.  But if it does, I feel I would have a lot to gain.  I think I'll give it a go.  I'm scared.

The Cost of Living: April 2016

I haven't been looking forward to this post.  April was expensive, and some of that is my fault.  My trip to Scotland was valuable in a sense more important than the monetary one, but not making it as cheap as I could have irks me.  This, remember, was also the month I stopped earning a full time wage.  Spoiler alert: I do not come out of April 2016 with a balanced budget.

Here's the numbers:

Rent:  £650.00
Mobile (£51.20) and phone/internet (£37.50): £88.70
Prescription:  £16.80
Food: £18.98
Electricy bill (Dec-Mar): £178.91
Postage: £90.00
Other: £502.77
Total outgoings: £1546.16

Income from work: £0
Other (amazon/ebay sales): £230.23
Total income: £230.23

APRIL BALANCE:  -£1315.93

If my life was a business, this month it would have been in the red.  The board of directors would be unhappy.  Share prices would plummet.

But life is not a busines, which is the whole point of this exercise.  Look at your life as if it was, and then ask yourself, am I happier for it?  Am I really, in all senses of the term, "better off"?

So now the issue comes down to simply weighing pros against cons.  Is the loss of £1315.93 worth what I have gained this month?  Well, what have I gained this month?  What have I learned?  What I have achieved?  Who have I helped, apart from myself?  I'll just answer the first question for now.  I've gained a complete reset of my biological clock.  My trip to Scotland took me out of the world of night time and shift work that's been my life for so long, and into the natural world of day and night, noise and darkness, peace and quiet.  Was it worth the material cost?  I would say definitely, yes.

And that's actually all I have to say for now.  It's time for bed.  It's dark.  You're supposed to go to bed when it's dark.  So goodnight.  I'll answer other questions tomorrow.