First of all, I want to thank all of you who have commented, shared your ideas and questions with me. I have a strong personality, I am very passionate when I communicate and find it very hard to be polite. I’d like to apologize if any of you feel I’ve been rude to you. It was honestly never my intention! I love the exchange with you guys out there, to hear your thoughts. I’m just starting with this public blogging thing, hopefully I’ll get better at it.
Another thing I wanted to tell you is that the way my blog is set up, your comments only appear on the page once I’ve read them. So be patient if you don’t see them come right away.
I’ve been thinking a lot these days about life and what we make of it. I’ve also been thinking about the last few comments and the general questions people usually ask me when they hear about the way I live my life and the choices I make. It makes me feel special that others are curious and interested on the one hand, but it also reminds me of how unique we all are. Happiness, freedom, even reality are abstract concepts and different people have different notions of what they mean.
I guess the important thing here is to never forget we are only given one life that we really know of. We have been given all these days, and we have so many choices, every single minute. Reality is what you make of your time and how you decide to process and perceive everything that is around and inside of you.
There are no recipes for happiness because we all have different notes and colors in our hearts. And freedom means to be able to lead a life in which your colors can shine through and your days can follow the notes you feel in your soul and in your mind.
When Alex and I talk to other people, whenever we write about our experiences, it is because we have both been thinking about and searching for freedom and happiness our whole lives. Different circumstances made us aware, independent and rebellious since we were very young. Down that road we have fallen and made it back up but never surrendered. And that persistence, after decades, finally brought us to the place in our lives where we have always wanted to be. At ease with our own selves, the world around us, and, now, even with someone else who is equally imperfect, stubborn and opinionated but also equally tender, curious and understanding.
What I’m trying to say is, all we can do is share with you how we got here and try to inspire and motivate all those souls out there who are looking for a change to take a deep breath and just go for it.
There are many things we can explain in detail but it will always be told from our perspective and a path that was developed during over thirty years in my case and over forty years in Alex’s case.
People usually tell us “you make is sound so easy but how do I do it?”. Well, it seems easy and obvious for us now, but it has been a lifetime of research, trial and error, getting stronger, and figuring out what we wanted and how to get it. It was not easy when we were infants, teenagers, young adults being pushed back into the system every time we opened doors and windows looking for a way out. It was fun at times but it was heartbreaking many times as well.
Everything that gives, also takes. You can’t have the life you lead right now and another one at the same time.
You can’t expect to have a life full of freedom and adventure and at the same time make a lot of money and have plenty of security. They are kind of mutually exclusive. What you can do if you like all four is find somewhere in between, find your own niche, create your own blend. But you have to make a choice. You either live within the system, pay the price and enjoy the benefits it gives you or you can look for an alternative in the periphery, and, again, pay the price and enjoy the benefits it gives you.
You don’t need to live like us or anybody else. It’s your life. Your choices. Your time. That’s what happiness and freedom is all about. Use your time according to your set of values.
If you’re not happy with the way things are going for you, if you find yourself worried, stressed, exhausted more often than not, then you need a change. As I said, there are no recipes for happiness or freedom but there’s a few things you can do.
First of all: figure out what it is that you like doing. If you had no obligations, what would you do with your time? Well, that’s what you should be doing MOST of the time. Nothing’s for free, there will be a price to pay, but it will be worth it.
What have you got at the top of your list? That’s what you should focus on. If you think about it, the things you love the most are very similar to the things you wanted when you were five years old. Think about it. Make a cup of steamy coffee or tea. Or take an icy glass of your favorite drink if it’s hot where you are right now. Sit somewhere cozy and take a few minutes to think about the voice that has always been there inside of you. It’s fun. And you might be surprised, I tell you!
People who are happy or content with their lives are those people who have found a way to spend most of their time doing that which they love, understand and are good at. Whatever that is. If you’re not there just yet, well, if you take the time to remember and figure it out, you’ll be able to tell in which direction you need to go.
For example, most of you know Alex’s story. On the top of his list, since he was a kid, there was peace and quiet, to be on his own, having the freedom to spend his time as he wished, it’s important for him to feel independent, strong and healthy. He never liked to be told what to do. And he has always loved the sea, film, photography, writing.
He is content and always says how lucky he feels not because somebody gave him a recipe for freedom and it was easy. He had to fight against all the assumptions and social pressure and one day he managed to become the man he wanted to be. He found his peace and quiet in nature, became a sailor, a filmmaker, a writer. All those things he liked when he was a kid. And he found a way to interact with people while being on his own.
Do you think it was easy back in the day for him to get to be on his own and have the freedom to do what he wanted, with nobody telling him what to do when he was a child? Or when he had to go to school or work? Of course not. It sucked. It took him decades to figure out a way to get to where he is today. He had to pay a price. If you want to free yourself from something that is not working out for you, it will require time, patience, a lot of energy, getting used to not having certain things at first and you will finally find yourself living your dreams.
If you’re married, well, it won’t be easy at first, but that’s what a partner is all about, isn’t it? Your best friend, looking out for you while you look out for them? Same if you have children of course. There are many ways in which you can take a new direction in life and in which everybody gets a better deal. If you’re unhappy, your whole family will be unhappy. In our case, we stayed single until we figured it out. And only then were we able to choose someone right for us, a real life partner. But of course as we sail together through this life there will be times in which I’ll have to help him and other times in which he’ll have to help me. I don’t mean to say it will be simple and easy but is being unhappy with your life and feeling trapped simple and easy? Is it not worth some months of reassessing, talking it through, figuring things out? What is at stake?
So, what is it that you liked when you were a child? How close are you to those things today?
I remember when I was very little I enjoyed music on top of everything else. My dad is a record collector and my mum is an art teacher so there was always music, books and art in the house. Whenever there was music around me I needed to sing and dance. Sometimes I liked to just lie on the floor, close my eyes and imagine things. Music made me fly and helped me make sense of the world around me. It protected me from the bad energy I felt sometimes. I was in my own universe, I was one with those sounds but also I was one with the sensitivity of the people who were playing it. I could feel what they felt without using words, I understood what they meant with the intention with which they played their instruments or used their voices. It was a code I could understand and which moved me to figure things out, act, change, believe, enjoy, open up, share.
Well, I’ve been playing music since I was 13. In 1989 my dad got me a great, cheap, second hand ten-year-old Fender Musicmaster and it’s the only bass guitar I’ve ever played. I still play it today.
When I was little I also loved literature and visual arts, I memorized all the stories my parents told me and the lyrics from all the songs I heard, I created my own, and spent lots of time drawing, painting, looking at pictures. And then I discovered films and I was dumbstruck: pictures, words and music coming together to tell a story! It was just unreal. The first two albums I ever bought were the soundtracks to “Back to the Future” and “Electric Dreams” when I was ten years old. Pretty funny if you think about it. My first two records were actually soundtracks.
When the time came to get a job I thought I might want to work as a musician so I went to music college. But after two years I found out it was not for me. I did not like my own or other people’s egos so much. There was a lot of that. There was too much late night, drugs, noise and smoke. Producers, the media, the pressure, not really all that tempting. I love music but I don’t like the rock scene or the music business. Nah. I dropped out but continued writing music, playing and recording with friends. I sometimes miss playing in a band, but here I am! Writing and recording the soundtrack for Alex’s next film? It’s a dream come true, the most amazing project and it’s great to do creative work together!!
When the musician thing failed, a possibility opened up for me: a job totally unrelated but that would give me quite a lot of money. Funny thing, I never cared much for money and I still don’t. If you ask me today what would you like to buy? I would have to say some fruit because we only got one orange left. Or some more Sunbrella because I want to make new cushions for the cockpit. I basically really do have everything I want. And when I need something new, like a month ago when I needed a guitar, I bought a really nice one for 80 bucks. My dad even ended up giving it to me. I don’t care much for possessions. If they do the trick, I’m happy. As I just wrote, I still play the first bass guitar I was given. So, when I was offered a job at a government office I hated it. I had to be locked in that place everyday with lawyers, politicians, economists. I had to pay for clothes I did not want to wear, eat at restaurants cause I could not go home and cook. I had to wake up to an alarm everyday, no matter how I felt. I had to face traffic and then spend hours hearing people talk about power, corruption, criminal activity, politics. All I was given in exchange was a lot of colored paper. I did not want to buy anything, I wanted my days to be beautiful. What I wanted was to have time to do the things I loved doing, lie in the sun, see my friends, spend my day with like-minded people who liked art and nature and freedom. When I got home I was tired to visit anyone or do anything. It made no sense whatsoever. I resigned when I was 22. I never ever had an office job ever again.
I had to keep searching. So I kept remembering.
In 1985, when I was ten years old, my dad brought my brother and me on holidays to the States and I felt very uncomfortable every time he had to translate what people were saying. I wanted to be able to communicate with them myself. When we got home I started memorizing songs and even whole movies in English. After a couple of years I learned how to speak it. My parents sent me to a bilingual school to help me out with that. I was blown away to find out my brain could actually switch and think and even dream in either one of the two languages. I later studied German, Japanese and a little Gaelic and Croatian.
So, thinking back, I thought this might be it. I could become an English teacher, why not? It’d be fun. And it was. I went to college, got my degree and found out I loved it. My job actually entailed playing my guitar, singing, dancing, drawing on the board, telling stories, using languages, sitting on the floor or on the grass. Instead of dealing with people in suits, I got to work and a bunch of little ones came running to hug and kiss me. But it’s also exhausting work. Later I went back to college to study Translation. I thought that as I grew older I would probably prefer to spend more time at home than in the classroom. I absolutely love books and I’m good at editing.
It got a lot better later, because being a language teacher/translator allowed me to travel the world for years, moving countries every few months, quite like a nomad, and put food on my table wherever I went. Even now my only income is some translations I do online twice a month.
But still I often felt that there was something wrong with the system. In order to pay for rent, food and holidays, I had to work far too much for my liking. I was still tired most of the time, looking at the clock, looking at the calendar. I was always waiting for the weekend, for the holidays, for the future to come, the future when I would have FREE TIME. Since I was a kid there are so many things I like doing that what I need the most is free time. I met Alex and I finally found it. We live the present moment together. When there’s some money, we go shopping. When there’s none, we make do with whatever we have in the pantry, Alex goes fishing. It might not sound like a great life, but it’s the life we want. Nobody telling us what to do, what to wear, what to pay for. We are in charge.
A life in which the present is not your favorite moment is a life wasted. The past is in your head and nobody knows if they will be alive tomorrow. All we have is today. If most todays kinda suck, then life sucks.
The only great risk in life, the way I see it, is to waste the time you’re given.
I don’t want to pay for security with my freedom. The only secure thing I will have is an unhappy existence. What is security anyway? You know what I mean?
Are people really more scared of not having comfort in an old age they might not even reach than of knowing for a fact they will spend 40 years of their lives away from their passions and their loved ones most of the time?
As I said at the beginning, there’s no fun in either of the extremes. There are plenty of ways in which you can move away from the capitalist machinery and instead of working eleven months a year, you can work for two or three months and have a nice life away from consumption and bills. Alex and I always plan on making an effort at one point to be able to put some money away in case of an emergency. Or to buy a little piece of land to rent and have a regular income as we sail around the world. We are not stupid. We like some security and comfort as well. We just always had the feeling that it would be still possible while investing much less time and freedom. And this is the way we found. Living in nature instead of a consumerist society, cooking our own meals, building our own home and doing odd jobs we don’t mind doing all that much for the things we need to buy with cash.
Cutting on stupid expenses is a great start. Moving to a more natural place with no stores, expensive restaurants or entertainment cuts your obligations by another great percentage. People who live in beautiful places meet up for a few beers on the beach, for a picnic next to the lake or go for a hike in the hills. They don’t spend money when they spend time together. You will be healthier and happier, your time will instantly be slower and more productive. Moving to a boat is the most amazing thing because then you won’t have to worry about accommodation either, you’ll forget about things like rent/mortgage, tax, bills.
This lifestyle has really set us both free. That is why Alex has kept this webpage going for over a decade. And that’s why I joined in as soon as he offered! It really is a wonderful way out if you’re unhappy. But you can lead a similar lifestyle anywhere and take the freedom and natural life you deserve back.
It’s really up to you. It’s your life. Your time. It should be your own choices as well.