August 28, 2018 by Jason Phillips
throwing myself into the unknown… how will i survive, who will i meet, where will i end up?
This is one of my favourite things to do. I like to wake up and not know what the day has in store for me… this is fucking living!
But it comes with its draw backs.
most people have their routine. and even people without preset routines in their lives tend to fall into natural routines, and eventually our days all start blending into one. we can no longer differentiate them, and our life becomes one long gloop of sameness. groundhog dayish…. we often counteract this void of boredom with quick injections of extreme action or escape, such as getting completely slaughtered on drink or drugs on the weekend, or a week holiday in some exotic place, or riding a motor bike at breakneck speeds down a slippery welsh mountain.
but this is like modern medicine: attacking the symptom instead of the problem. looking at the problem then, should we be giving up on routine all together? or simply be changing our routine, regularly? this sounds like a nice idea, but it comes with it’s problems. firstly we are SCARED! of change. also, we are stuck! people expect us to be in the places we are everyday and it often pays money to us in order to keep everything the same in our lives. another big one for me, after reading Mason Curry’s DAILY RITUALS, i realised that nearly all of the great creative minds of the past have all favoured working to a routine. Some of the best works of art, and most innovative inventions have been the product of daily routines from weird and interesting, and obsessed minds! why wouldn’t i want to join this league of superior talent!
the only difference there i see is that they LOVED their (self- made) routine…. some would literally write the same time and the same number of words every single day of their lives and create the most memorable art that touched the souls of millions or changed humanity and the future. With these creative self-designed routines, a paradox is created, where on one hand we are rigidly getting the work done every day almost militarily, but while sticking to this regime, we are free to fly and discover new worlds almost as if we weren’t even there, stuck in that routine… we set the routine up in order to escape reality and dream! it works on every level. So i see, routine has its place! And can be vital in a creative life.
The problem comes when a routine is forced upon us, or designed by others, and is lacking the opposite paradox that ensures we escape reality and create. instead we are doing the dog’s work for some faceless entity who ‘rewards’ us only in cash and pointless job titles. This can only work to slowly erode away our character and stunt our growth. Yes it may pay the rent, and feed the kids, but what’s the cost to your soul? Don’t worry, a week in the Costof De Soul, that’ll fix it. And while tucking into the Alchemist with a Carling on a sun lounger, we’ll be secretly dreading the return to the same old prostitution of our only life. But your CV is good, and the company will recognise when your falling apart, breaking at the seams, don’t worry! They will either get rid of you with a pay off, or increase the incentives for you to stay with a new job title or an extra few quid each year.
Now the benefits of these packages we take, these pre-designed routines for money, are very real. as mentioned, we can pay for things! and most importantly we can pay for crucial things in life. such as Rent, and electric, and water, and food, and things. It’s a very easy option to look at the ‘routine packages’ on offer, (ie jobs) and select one and begin. everything is done for you. the only thing you need to learn is how to fulfill the tasks set by your invisible boss. you can often learn this on the job, you can even lie to get the job, by overselling yourself on your CV (an advert every person in the world has of themselves to show to Routine Package Designers). If you like the advert of the Job and they like your advert (both usually packed with misinformation) and you both agree to go into business, then you begin. a slave? not quite. you’re being paid! and you no longer have to think! even if you have lied all over the CV, usually the work is so mind numbingly simple that you can pick it up in no time, and your in the fold and earning and all your time has gone, and your days are all the same in no time. if the job does require a special set of skills in order to fulfill the tasks to get paid, you usually would be required to train, this can be done in-house, and often is, or for more complicated tasks you would need to study at a university, who design their courses specifically with modern job in mind. the more complicated the task fulfillment and the more training needed usually the more money you get for giving up your time.
now, it’s not to say all jobs are horrible, life draining, routines that eat your very soul. some offer all the benefits you might be looking for. these jobs exist! and instead of pounding away in your mum’s dusty basement for 25 years with no company and no income and no way of moving out and eventually just being surrounded by piles of your own self obsessed, insular ramblings that no one wants to read, a job may actually get you out of the house and connecting with other humans and give you some experiences to write about (a la bukowski in post office – the book that got him out of the post office after 13 years) and offer you some income so you can rent a dump and buy some noodles. you can attach your own routine onto the end of your forced routine and find a balance of paying the rent and writing a masterpiece. this could be a sane approach.
the other option is shunning the pre-designed routine packages all together, and living off your own ideas. This is a dangerous route and comes with a plethora of traps and difficulties, the biggest being how the fuck do you pay the rent?
aside from the obvious money worries, which can drain as much mental energy as actually holding down a shitty job, there are the other things…
how do you pay for things?
decision making (you are on your own here!)
routine design (what do you DO with all this time! _
laziness, (no boss… why bother.)
so i’ve chosen the self made routine path… and here i wanna explore just one of the problems: DECISION MAKING! there is no system, there is no boss, there is no pre-designed routine for me…. so how do i decide WHAT to do next?
well, i’m currently traveling, and into my 11th week in Europe this summer, and just hitting a block with DECISION MAKING (and also money and other things but that’s for another blog) so here’s where i am at:
When you are on your own, traveling in this example, or just living your own life, you are presented with unlimited options. you can literally do anything! and this can be so debilitating. It can freeze you. sometimes less choice is EASIER! and thus the attraction of package holidays, and pre-designed routines aka jobs, soap operas tv etc.
A very real phenomena called DECISION FATIGUE, rears its ugly head, when we choose the path of FREEDOM! and freedom hides its claws well. We don’t get to see the ugly sides until it’s too late, after we have thrown ourselves into the abyss!
Decision fatigue, you’ve probably had it at some point,. it’s like when you are trying to weigh up the options, and you go back and forth… kind of mental obsessive pros and cons, and then you literally don’t know anymore and you feel completely insane, miserable, tired and useless. a failure. and you still haven’t chosen. And you still can’t. It happens in every day life, with all sorts of things.
it happens a lot when you travel. now the simple fact is: IT DOES NOT MATTER what you choose, as each path has it’s own unknown adventures and lessons and goodies ahead. BUT these words of wisdom are of no use to a poor soul impaled on the horns of a dilemma.
i’ve gone completely insane in the last few days (and written 46 lists) trying to chose the right path for my continued travels. and finally, after a serendipitous phone call from a friend in Beijing yesterday, he pulled me out of the abyss and made a choice for me! it felt amazing and of course as the day went on i questioned my choice, and thought, fuck, was that the right thing after all.? standard.
But this is how he helped me……
He simply asked me, what are your reasons for traveling. why did you go away in the first place?
I was transported back to my bed in the dead of winter, in my slave box, with the window open and the smoke from the restaurant chimney pouring in, and the silence, and the complete lack of connection to humanity. utterly alone… i wanted to Create more than anything, but was struggling to find similar minded folk to get excited with and my buzz to create things was whimpering and shriveled on the carpet with the dirty socks. Not just music, but all sorts of things! i needed connection… creativity,… community even! i was utterly alone. the modern disease of being disconnected completely! i was in my duvet, unwashed and silent, hadn’t spoke to anyone in weeks, surrounded by dozens of books and a fat notepad stuffed full of madness. but no amount of journalling was going to pull me out of this crazed solitude. i needed fucking people! a job? maybe… whatever. but in the bottom of that dark cold winter well, i called up the echoey cold walls and cried to the sky. I NEED TO CONNECT! and so i made a kind of new years resolution, i would seek:
CONNECTION, COMMUNITY AND CREATIVITY!
and that is why i have spent more than half of this year away from my slave box, thrown into the unknown, staying with strangers, making new music, writing, connecting and putting myself in situations where i have no choice but to connect. thus forcing myself away from the easy option of reading and thinking and rotting away.
Sam! With one simple question you have made the decision very easy for me… of the options i have ahead of me (which i wont go into here as this post is already a monster – fueled by coffee, which has crept back into my life after 5 years!) i simply had to weigh them up through the lens of which offer the best fulfillment of my vision:
of Connection, Creativity, and Community…..
it was obvious within a split second…. A lift in the van with Gypsie Jack and his lovely kids, from Bratislava tomorrow, 2000km to Brittany, stay with him and see his land and help him build things, make music with him, go fishing with him, and spend time at the local squat, where all the people i had met in the Czech Fest were living a communal creative life, full of connection, and where they ran workshops every day for all things creative and communal… this satisfied all my reasons for traveling. OBVIOUS!
as much as i wanted to go East into new territory, and go to Turkey and Finland, and Croatia, and bla bla bla…. i knew heading west made more sense. it also meant i was closer to home (even thought i was trying to avoid it) to nip back and tidy up a few things which were bothering me, to house sit for a friend i had promised, to get a few creative projects wrapped up and to visit my family, and friends (connect!). and then plan onward WORLD travel from there, to escape the fierce Welsh winter, of which 13 in a row was beginning to take it’s toll.
After 4 or 5 days of going completely insane with indecision, and crashing with decision fatigue, kick starting myself with coffeeeeeee ,…. i was suddenly cured. Thank you Sam for reminding me, We need to know the reasons for doing what we do in order to make a clear snap decision, or we suffer!
so that was a long post, but here is the answer:
ask WHY are you doing this. and then Make a snap decision. Now COMMIT to it 110%, stop pro and conning, and forget all other options.
the teasing voice of the pros of the other options will try to creep into your psyche: ‘Oi, what about me! you’ve chosen that over me! i’m amazing, and you are missing out! you idiot!’ you need to stamp on that bastard til it bleeds, and commit to the Snap!
Still not working? then phone a friend and tell him how you feel. He may just help by letting you talk it out. (do it!)
SO WHATS YOUR REASONS?
*thats mine, right now. what’s yours?
that’s why i am here, and it’s what needs to steer my travels and my decision making.
thank you Sam.