It's been just over a year now since I began my journey, my "new life" (the inverted commas mean something). A good time to take stock, and reflect on what I have learned so far. To sum up:
1. I am a fundamentally lazy person. I don't think this is ever going to change. While I've made a conscious and deliberate effort to switch my perspective away from the acquisition of money and of things, and even to say yes to things to which I would always previously have said no, at heart I'm still a recluse. I'm not motivated, in the normal, noisy happy-go-lucky sense, to "live life to the full" by backpacking across Tajikistan or bungee-jumping off the backs of elephants or starting up a bespoke toenail polishing mobile app or whatever it is we "Millennials" are apparently more interested in now than filling our bank accounts. I've no interest in capital-E Experience as such.
2. I have a painfully short attention span. This is problematic, especially when it comes to sitting down to write my book, which nominally I've set aside two days a week for, but for the last few weeks has been closer to two hours. (Counting the time I spend researching the subject the matter, to be fair, this is considerably longer, but the double-edged sword that is the instant availability of an incomprehensibly vast amount of information being what it is, how much of my research is *relevant* to what I actually want to write about is another issue entirely). It's also just problematic in general: the decision to eschew money and material possessions as much as I possibly can requires a certain vigilance, an awareness of your own behaviour that is frustratingly easy to allow to lapse. Which brings me to my third realisation...
3. It is easy to fall back into old habits. A year ago my head was full of dreams and ideas about how I could be totally money-free, living of my wits and the land alone, perhaps sooner than I dared imagine. So I quit my job and just thought fuck it, we'll see what happens. Well, what happens, as it turns out, is if you don't have a clear and comprehensive plan (which I don't, see 1 and 2 above) you fall back into the same old trap of work, earn, exhaust your time on trivialities, sleep, dream and repeat. I'm working now on average 15 hours a week, which is negligible compared to how things used to be, and even though the work is as dull as I can allow it to be, it still occupies far too much of my headspace. And so I find myself thinking in the same old circles: if I just earn this, I can do this... And all the while the silly spends creep out of control again: the takeaway coffees, the taxis, the conveniences. Time for another jolt.
I have declared April to be my "no buy month". Yesterday I topped up my electricity meter, bought a month's supply of cat food, a few other bits and pieces I've been meaning to sort out (like fitting a new toilet seat) and resolved not to set foot in a shop or cafe or anywhere else I might spend money again for the rest of April unless I need to. "Need" in the true sense of that term. No cinema trips, no bottles of wine, nothing but the food I need to eat to live and the cost of my bus tickets. Any bills that happen to come I suppose I'll have to pay, and that is very much that. Another small step in the right direction. Get my sending down to an absolute minimum. See how it goes.