What does work mean to you?
Probably something like Monday morning commuter traffic, dreading getting out of bed, train delays, staying late doing unpaid work, stress, only getting told when you do something wrong rather than right, and a boss that got where they were by just saying yes sir no sir
I, like most other people in this world found myself in the very same position that you likely are. I grew up thinking the world was all about money - unfortunately for me the school system had failed to recognise my very real but non-academic talents. Therefore you won’t be surprised to know that I failed all of my GCSE’s and went to the bottom of the employment pile.
It was when I left school I started learning. I realised that education comes in many forms, that people’s abilities are so varied and unique that to try and push and grind them into little cogs whose only purpose is to serve the larger economic machine is so often a terrible waste of life.
“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will always fail”
-Amos E. Dolbear of Tufts
Reading this quote gave me hope as it helped me realise that the failing wasn’t mine, but it was that of the system and unfair standards I was being judged by, a system with not my interests at heart, but its own. It took me a long time to unlearn the only thing I felt I had learned in school - that I was a failure. Luckily for me and despite this false conclusion I never really doubted my ability to follow a logical process practically to achieve a goal.
My upbringing was one of great privilege by good parents that thought they had my best interest at heart as is so often the case. They set me off on a path they had followed, which is surprising given how unhappy they both have been. It was just a few years ago I realised I was pursuing money while leading an unhappy life. I decided this was a path I didn’t want go down, and that a change needed to happen.
Prior to this chance my routine consisted of my alarm waking me up at 5 am each morning, sitting on a train for 2 hours each way, abusing my body installing elevators on my own in a dark elevator shaft - all to keep up with interest repayments. It was at this point a good friend of mine questioned my motives, which sent me on a path of questioning this life, something for which I am forever grateful.
It was a confusing time for me. I was always told that you should get a good job, make money, buy a house and live happily ever after. It was only after I had purchased my second property at age 23 that I realised I was practically a slave, perhaps not overtly but in many subtle and real ways. Still, people congratulated me on how well I was doing and how I had set myself up for life, and if I’m honest the praise did feel good. I felt like I was ahead of the crowd, if only for a moment. But inside I was broken, and this feeling never quite seemed to go away despite the praise and recognition from my friends and family.
I realised that there were too many things going on in the world that had control over my time and my life, and this underlying chaos bothered me. If the bank wanted to take all I had it wasn’t hard to imagine scenarios in which they could do it. Importantly and in addition to this I came to the conclusion that the more possessions I had, the more stress i had, and in an economy fueled by consumption, this sort of stress isn’t avoidable; it’s inevitable.
So I decided - no more. I sold my house, I quit my job, and I moved to a small flat to start looking for some land in Wales to start to build a future that I could be in control off. I found 18 acres of land and started a journey with the goal to be self sufficient and as in control of my own destiny as humanly possible.
With all this in mind I started to build a small dwelling on the land, a simple roundhouse which would be “practice” with regards to self-building, its construction would give me a chance to observe the land before committing to build a proper and permanent dwelling.
One thing that struck me about the whole process was how beautiful it was. To create something that is a reflection of yourself is a wonderful experience. It was no doubt one of the hardest things I have ever done in life. I spent a many months alone in a cold damp tent. I Started the roundhouse with my partner, but i finished it as a single man. Despite all this it was without doubt the most rewarding i have ever done. the first night sleeping in this building that i had built with my own hands was the most magical thing. It was a windy and rainy night and i slept on the mezzanine floor. At one point i held my hand against the massive roof timber over my head, It really did feel like an old friend was protecting me.
I think we as people have been told that if you’re not a builder you can’t build. If you’re not a plumber you can’t plumb, and if you’re not a carpenter you can't do woodwork. I now know from experience that this is simply not true, and I want everyone else to know it as well.
I am nothing more than a person wanting a simple stress free life with community, friendship, sustainability and health to be prioritised above all else. I want you to know that it is possible to put talents you might never have realised you had to use and take back control of your own life, all the while making a real difference to your own well being, and the well being of the environment in which you live