As I immerse myself more and more into the FIRE community, I find myself yearning for a simpler life. I see the pictures and read the blog posts of those who have already achieved financial independence. Some are living life constantly on the road, others take a period to slow travel and more still just sit back for a while and embrace a new, simpler way of life.
Maybe this yearning is partly to do with age and partly just general weariness with the prison sentence of working life. Certainly in years gone by I was happy throwing myself into work, giving my all to climb ever higher up the corporate ladder, scooping up the financial rewards that went with it.
But the passing of time brings ever-increasing resentment. Not just of the hours lost at my desk that I can never get back, but everything that goes along with it. Sitting in traffic. Getting angry with other drivers, knowing there is nothing to be angry about but feeling wound up anyway. Time and money spent on make-up, haircare and clothes in order to conform to the corporate standard. Irritation when yet another late night call is added to my diary. Stress on top of stress on top of stress.
It’s the latter lifestyle that appeals to me. I spend so much time in an office every day, staring out of the window as I endure yet another endless and soul sucking conference call. Daydreaming as a survival tactic just to get through the day. But contrary to what I would have thought even six months ago, I’m not dreaming of a palm fringed sandy beach, the ice in my cocktail chinking delicately against the glass (although I can conjure that picture up nicely if I want to 😊). Nope, my daydreams are centred around home.
I have always been a home bird. The phrase “no place like home” was written for me. Not because I live anywhere particularly special – although I admit I have lived in the same house for 18 years and have wonderful memories here. Thinking back to when I was at my poorest – living in a room in a run-down student house – when I shut my bedroom door and left the world outside, I still loved that feeling of being “home”.
I have written before about being a single parent, holding down a high pressure job and working towards financial independence. I may not have a partner to help but I am not super woman by any means. To hold all that together and be even remotely successful at any of it requires a team. House cleaner, window washers, gardener, handyman, dog sitter – these are all essential and highly appreciated members of the team. In years past, it also included child-minders and until very recently also grandparents, transported in from eight hours away to help with the family when I needed to travel.
All of the above costs money and adds a hefty chunk to my expenses at a time when I am doing everything possible to keep expenses low. But I have never felt guilty about paying for help. I am only human and I am very aware that I can’t be full-time Finance Director at work and still keep a clean home, the lawn mowed, do all my own house maintenance, run rental houses, make money on the side* and have energy left to be present for my children in the precious few hours I get with them.
But there’s a difference between feeling guilty and feeling resentful. I still resent paying other people to do things I could so easily do myself, if only I had the time.
I want to mow my own lawn.
I want to vacuum my own carpet.
As mundane as those things may seem, I am craving the opportunity to be bored by them. Boredom sparks creativity and I am curious about where that will lead.
I want to watch The Great British Bake-Off and be inspired to fill my home with tantalising baking smells.
I want to clear out the spare room, sell off all the things we don’t use and feel lifted of the burden of having so much “stuff”.
The simple things, the everyday boring household tasks, the taking control of my environment, the being both boss and labourer in my own castle – these are the things that are pulling me.
So it is control that I am craving. Control over my day / my surroundings / the people I interact with. Nobody comes in to my castle without me first opening the door after all.
I’m aware there must be an element of the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence. But once I have hopped over, the grass on this side will wither up and die for a while. There will be no looking back with envy for a working life – of that, I am sure.
Over time, the prison cell will crumble and nature will reclaim this plot of land that was once my working life and fill it with something new and green and vibrant. A whole new life to look forward to and aspire to and create. Where the grass is equally green on both sides of the fence.
* (affiliate link relevant only to UK folk)