Thanks to Ann P for the recommendation in my comments to read ‘How to Be Free’ by Tom Hodgkinson. I bought my copy secondhand on Amazon Marketplace. It’s been inscribed on its opening page. ‘Be free my lovely husband!’ I hope the gentleman in question was imbued by a sense of liberty as a consequence of reading it.
A book advocating an alternative way of living has been perfect reading for someone whose journey into semi retirement happened at a pretty fast pace. If I think back a year ago I was going to trundle on in the NHS and even had plans to advance my career. But I feel at peace with my decision and I’ve had so many words of encouragement even from a lovely lady who supervised my clinical practice when I was a student. Nobody has said that I’m nuts and doing the wrong thing.
So let’s get back to ‘How to Be Free’ shall we? It’s a fascinating read that draws on historical sources to examine the origins of modern attitudes about work and lifestyle. First published in 2007, perhaps it introduced ideas that were before its time. It sits comfortably with a growing movement of people today who are questioning the sanity of remaining in the rat race. Tom Hodgkinson, the author, is the founder of The Idler. In his early twenties he pondered the question of how to live differently rejecting a life of traditional work and debt. Now I would guess that Tom comes from quite a well to do background. By virtue of this he had a foot up the ladder in achieving his aims. Maybe it’s easier to argue for an anarchic existence from a point of privilege.
Even so there’s food for thought for people from diverse backgrounds in the twenty four chapters in this book. They have titles such as ‘Death to Shopping, or Fleeing the Prison of Consumer Desire, ‘Banish Loneliness’ and ‘Submit No More to the Machine, Use your Hands.’ Even though I was not entirely in agreement with all the proposals, there’s so many ideas to ponder. At the end of the book there’s a wonderful list of resources for further reading and action. I’m particularly keen to explore the ideas of the permaculture movement. And what’s more I haven’t been able to absorb all the contents in one read. I’ll be revisiting it – after it’s been on loan to friends who’ve asked to borrow it!
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