Today I read an article in Smith Journal about a young Australian couple who are cycling across Australia, living off the land, camping at night, and interviewing people they meet along the way who have rejected the prescribed capitalist lifestyle for time and happiness. It's something I've been concerned with since I got into philosophy, and especially since I fell in love with Vincent.
Compared with most of my friends, I'm a hippy. I've been into environmental issues since I was a kid, and although I have never lived overseas, I've think I've always been quite aware of my existence in the wider world than I know first-hand. But more than that, I have never wanted a career (which at times made me feel like there was something wrong with me), I don't give a shit about having money in the bank, and until recently though I might never own a house (and had wondered if I might be ideologically opposed to private ownership of property). I value personal freedom and creativity. And further even than those things, I have an unusual appreciation for empty time.
I have a few magical friends whom I consider proper hippies (according to my own definition). They are women who have completely rejected norms - norms that even their liberal friends subscribe to, and forsaken material things they enjoy, to live authentically and responsibly and creatively. They have little or no money, and when they do have some, they might spend it all on one thing that they find beautiful, or smaller things that cost more than they might because they are better for the land and better for people. They are extremely political, and have beautiful ideas about things because they have made time in their lives to think about them; really think, not just in response to things, but just because things are.
I think people often forget what living responsibly is. We get so caught up in cultural obligations that we overlook the natural ones; our responsibility to the land, to humanity, and to ourselves. Capitalist norms mean we think we have a responsibility to find the best-paying job we can, and to work as many hours as those jobs require, because money is how we measure things, and we trade off the hours we work with things to make our non-working lives more comfortable, without wondering if it's actually worth it.
It's no revelation that this isn't how we have to live, yet I feel like we're all apt to forget that because so few people in life have nothing to sell. There are very few of us (obviously I'm talking about you reading this, and me) who don't have any choice in what we do for a living. And we forget that our jobs are to make a living; we can adapt according to what living requires. We just need to think exactly what that figure is, and what we're prepared to compromise in our lives, and what we aren't prepared to compromise.
I'm writing this partly to convince myself that it is okay to make these decisions, which is funny because I know it is, but it's hard to feel that it is alright to choose what you believe over what people you love believe. I have lived the way I do for a while, and it's felt hippy enough, but if I want to do certain things, I won't be able to stay a hippy, and I have realised that is non-negotiable to me, besides which I am ready to take it to the next level. I'm not claiming to be forsaking money; I'm just rejecting the lifestyle that will give me less of it and ask for more of it. I want to be in control of my life; I want to own a patch of land that I love, not just because it's mine but because I chose it, and I want to make something that I did myself, and I want to have a brood of gorilla babies and dogs, and I want to be allowed to do it for myself, because that's who I am.
Authenticity is a battle sometimes, but I believe it's worth fighting for.