The following is a guest post from my new friend Robert of New Escapologist. He and I speak the same language – it’s the language of personal sovereignty.
He’s currently in the process of publishing his book – Escape Everything. A book which, in Robert’s words, “shows once and for all that escape is possible for those who want out”. Be sure to check it out!
Hello. My name’s Robert. At the astonishingly impudent age of 26 I decided that the conventional world of work, mortgages and pension plans wasn’t something I was very interested in.
More interesting to me was finding a way to live without all that bluster, to travel somewhat and to move to Canada, a country to which I’ve always had an admittedly vague emotional connection. I’m now 32, a resident of Canada, travelling twice yearly and living fairly independently of the daily grind.
What do I do with my time? I rise late; read library books; go for walks; drink beer; cook; spend time with my partner; and further my personal projects, which largely consist of writing words in an increasingly competent fashion and trying to convince people to read them.
To many, this is a ridiculous way to spend a human life. How can I possibly earn enough to live on? Why would I turn my back on a tried-and-tested, perfectly safe lifestyle? Aren’t I grateful for the affluence afforded to me by my parents and education? What gets me out of bed in the morning? What does Canada have that Britain doesn’t?
These aren’t unreasonable questions, especially when they come from the indentured slaves most people have allowed themselves to become.
To me, freedom is of paramount importance. I daresay most of the paycheck people would agree, but their definition of freedom differs to mine. To them, freedom is the ability to report to a job each day, to serve a grateful employer, to be rewarded by a wage or salary, and to spend that wage or salary on maximum consumption: on buying property or leisure experiences, or paying off debts accrued through a lusty impatience for the same. To me, freedom is the ability to wake up in the morning with a clear 15 hours ahead of me, which I can spend however I like.
As a reader of Family Rocketship, you’re more likely to think as I do than as the paycheck people do. You’re likely to share my fondness for travel if nothing else. Many of you have already found a way to live comfortably without work; and many more of you are on your way to doing so, or are at least curious about such a lifestyle. It’ll come as no surprise to you that the escape route from slave to freeman is a radical but immaterial adjustment of life priorities.
In 2007, I set up a small-press magazine called New Escapologist. It’s still going strong, not because I had a clever business plan or an injection of capital or a radical publishing model that would take the world by storm. It still goes, quite simply, because I enjoy producing it and because there’s a growing body of people out there–people like you and me–who question the conventional rat race model of life.
Eleven magazine issues later (two a year, no more required), I’ve accumulated a body of research and large number of personal escape stories. I’ve spoken to people who’ve used perfectly conventional but seldom employed investment techniques to make a bundle and retire early. I’ve spoken to people who sold their part-paid-for house in favour of living in a campervan or a small home. I’ve spoken to people who became bottom feeders and garbage pickers because even they see it as preferable to working a zero-hours contract in some godawful office or call centre. I’ve spoken to people who threw in the towel and caution to the wind to become artists or writers instead of working for unethical companies. There are hundreds of ways–some radical, some relatively conservative–out of the rat race.
What makes us–you and me–different is that we’ve assessed our priorities, learned what’s important in life, and had the courage to adjust course instead of staying on the straight and narrow.
For the past year, I’ve been piping all of this thought, research and experience into a book. The book is called Escape Everything! and aims to be a comprehensive (and witty and joyful) guide to the various ways in which one might escape the world of soul-crushing drudgery.
My aim with the book is to encourage more people to take the plunge in escaping or to at least to change a few minds about what’s possible when you throw caution to the wind and cease worshipping the baubles offered by consumer economy.
Alas, I need your help to get it properly published. I’m using a publisher called Unbound (set up by good people from the Idler and QI, two of my favourite things). Their past books include Letters of Note and titles by Monty Python’s Terry Jones and Red Dwarf‘s Robert Llewellyn. My guide to escape and the good life will only join this family if we can raise enough money through crowdfunding. So please, without hesitation go and buy Escape Everything! today and together we’ll get this book out.
In the meantime, I’d be delighted to answer any questions about the book or about escape in general in the comments thread beneath this post or over at the New Escapologist blog. But don’t prevaricate! Pledge towards the book to help make this happen.
Robert Wringham is a writer and performer who lives in Glasgow and Montreal. He’s the editor of New Escapologist, a small-press magazine for working stiffs with escape on the brain.
The magazine, now in its tenth issue, has seen contributions from Alain de Botton, Richard Herring, Ewan Morrison, Tom Hodgkinson, Leo Babauta, Luke Rhinehart and other prominent citizens in support of the good life.