I figured it out.
Today, when I woke up this morning, I figured it out.
One of the main reasons why people in our society feel so miserable a great deal of the time is because we are not in control of our lives. Instead, we are controlled by many other forces, money being the cardinal one. Money is needed to survive: it is needed for food, shelter, water electricity; all the amenities of a modern existence; and those who reject this paradigm, the necessity of money, are left homeless and to fend for themselves. In the end, all it is a method of exchange. You work for your food, your house, your electricity—people grew your food, built your home, take care of your water and electricity. As long as we are reliant on society and other people, and their efforts, and cannot build our own homes, grow our own food, harness our own water and electricity, the basic necessities of life, we are slaves to money.
How so? We take jobs that corrode our very essence. We smile, and pander, and grovel, at supervisors and superiors, in the desperate hope that we can get into the good books of someone in a higher position of authority. We have to live in conditions where we are unhappy, with people we find hard to spend time around, because we rely on them financially. Everything we do that makes us miserable, eventually, someone along the line, boils down to the necessity of transferring numbers into your bank account so you can use those numbers to purchase goods and services.
The thing is, to survive, and prosper, and be happy, there are few goods and services that we need. A roof over our heads. A bed. A desk to sit at so you can work, depending on what you do. Paper. Pens. A source of clean fresh water. Food, fruits and vegetables, and grains. Electricity for light to see by and heat to cook with. Enough clothes to keep warm. A library nearby where you can borrow and read books. All the appendages of modern existence—holidays, cars, decorations, treats, clothes, gadgets, why, they’re all entirely superfluous, and unnecessary.
Therefore the key to happiness for dreamers, and to anyone else who feels miserable when they are controlled by money, is to regain control of your own life. And that, my friends, is the crux of the issue. It is difficult. First off, unless you have seeds, and your own patch of land, a steady source of water, you can’t grow your own food. Which then means you need to buy it from the supermarket, where the food is often packaged in environmentally harmful plastics and injected with all sorts of chemicals. Building your own house, in a city, is sheer impossibility; not only do you need your own land, but you need to have the skills, material and time to connect it to the municipal water pipes and electricity grid. Clothes, paper, pens—those perhaps can be asked, or begged, from people, if they are absent. Very quickly it becomes clear that there is a reason people are such slaves to their jobs, even if it makes them feel miserable to be controlled in this way, because, well, if you think about it, what are the alternatives?
That is why everyone desperately wants to start their own business. To have your own business, and to be self-employed, is one step up from having a job, as you are more in control of your income. You determine, based on your efforts and the value of your product and how you market yourself, how much you earn. Many people do achieve this. I think, if someone could make it work, it could be a good, if not perfect, solution. However, I do believe the ultimate form of control is not require money altogether, spending part of your time gathering water and growing food and maintaining your shelter, but devoting the rest of your hours to hard work that is meaningful to you.
I don’t have the answers. Just a tiny revelation, that struck me when I opened my eyes this money. I asked myself, “Why I am I unhappy?” “Well,” my brain said, “you are unhappy because you are financially dependent on your mother.” “And why am I financially dependent on your mother?” “Because you can’t earn money. And because you can’t earn money, you feel as though you have no control in life, buffeted by wherever the dollar signs take you. You are afraid of homelessness, so you will bear being abused just to keep a roof over your head, just like millions of people across the world, who work in jobs that are pointless and not meaningful and not in alignment with who they are but which they keep because, well, they need the money.”
Misery stemming from slavery to a method of exchange is not a new suffering. Money runs the world; it is the oil that keeps the gears running and working, even if some of the cogs are turning for no reason at all except the sake of turning. From this point onwards, I see four options for myself and other dreamers in regards to regaining control in my life.
One, is to work part-time, at a job that we can find relatively bearable, and have our bodies live on less so our hearts can live on more.
Two, is to somehow use our skills and talents to provide a service or product that other people might want, and therefore become self-employed.
The third is to live in your car or a homeless shelter—living in one’s car, is frankly, more preferable, as it is safer. That way, you eliminate one of the greatest drains of money in life, rent, or mortgage payments, thus freeing you up to devote the rest of your financial resources on food.
The fourth is for all INFPs and dreamers to get together, somehow, and somewhere, lots of kind souls working together, in a commune, using our intelligence and creativity to get by. Perhaps living in an apartment we share, where some people cook, other people work a couple of hours here and there, some gather water from park taps or grow some food in the backyard, the bills are all shared and we all live frugally, and spend plenty of time working hard to pursue our interests. Sort of like a modern-day tribe of ten or so people, where everyone works together to survive. And I have a feeling, if the right people are chosen, we will feel comfortable around each other, even me, because we’re all kind and empathic and soft-hearted and hard-working.
Now, each of these, compared to getting a traditional job, save the first option, seem particularly difficult, hard or complicated. Living in your car means you will have to be parked near a gym for water and showering facilities, and finding an electricity source, to charge your phone, or to cook or boil food, will be problematic, not to mention the safety hazards of essentially sleeping out on the streets in the night.
Self-employment is far from easy, too. You have to get very good at something, enough good enough for people to want to hand over their hard-earned cash to obtain it—and that is hard. It’s also, let’s not forget, risky: some months you might earn enough to sock some money away, and some months barely enough to live on. That’s probably the reason why people who seek financial independence have multiple income streams, wherein they work at a traditional job, perhaps part-time, but also have a website where they earn money from advertising, a side business, another job online etc. Online friends of mine have also suggested working on selling items on sites like Etsy, or online jobs like freelance writing, or being a virtual assistant.
As for the INFP commune, well, why not? Some part of me feels as though it might be more of a fantasy than a reality, and perhaps the reality of living together, with lots of other people, even if they are also dreamers, won’t match up to how I see it in my mind. There’s also the fact that INFPs tend to be scattered all over the world, so we can’t get together in the first place. I live in Australia, and so far have only spoken to one Australian INFP online, and two individuals is hardly enough to make up a proper commune and spread the duties of survival.
The thing is, when something is very meaningful and necessary, like growing and tending to crops, or gathering water, the people who undertake those tasks actually feel happier doing them. To do them means they are surviving. Whereas the office worker, trapped in a cubicle working at meaningless reports and spreadsheets, is much more unhappier, as her work is disconnected from what is truly meaningful and necessary, even if it leads to the same result, which is survival. In essence, the problem of modern society is that there are a lot of “bullshit jobs” we have fabricated, where meaningless tasks are engaged in by millions just to keep the system running and the financial elite in a position of power. So much of the world is in a bad state, artificial and forced. No matter what we do, it is best if it allows us to connect to nature, to Mother Earth, and our deep desires, such as to create Art or help others; that will bring the power back into our own hands, and therefore, happiness.
It’s hard. I mean it: it’s really, really hard to find an alternative to surviving in society, and living a meaningful life, apart from simply slotting yourself neatly into the system. But I think it is time we started listening to our guts, and our hearts. If something is making you depressed and miserable, then obviously it is not good for you. As humans, we are the only species who willingly poison ourselves—dependence on companies and other people for food mean we don’t know what goes in them, what pesticides were used, etc.–and willingly put ourselves in situations where we are unhappy and miserable for hours on end, thinking we have no other choice.
No other creature on earth lives this way. A bird will peck at a piece of food, and if it doesn’t like it, instinctively move away from it. A bird, if given the opportunity to leave its cage, will fly out in a jiffy; but if the bird, like humans, have been conditioned to stay in the cage, even when the latch is open, then it will never be free, because it will have created its own cage, and those take much more effort to break open.
I don’t know what I will do, but I do think that identifying the problem is the first step towards solving it. There is a solution, somewhere, somehow; it may not be easy, but it certainly exists. There is always a solution. I am tired of the lack of control in my life, tired of having to depend on my mother, and the world, and society. Taking an unconventional path may be more frightening and unsafe, the way barred by brambles and crowded with lurking beasts, but at the end there may be a beautiful garden, more wonderful and luscious than one can possibly imagine. As an INFP, as a dreamer, and most importantly, as a creative person, a writer, using my creativity to find other ways to live and survive is just as important as employing it to write books and stories.
After the altercation with my mother yesterday, I realised just how precarious my position is as a financially-dependent daughter who has long overstayed her welcome, and how, in the end, we often have no-one to turn to except ourselves, our own will, and our own grit. All I know is that I want to be in control of my own life, without sacrificing my integrity or being forced to engage in meaningless tasks that make my soul recoil, and that if I find the key to unlock this door, on the other side lies, if not happiness, then at the very least, peace. Do you?
And I think the community that has built up around my blog, although small in the larger scheme, is still meaningful, and important. We, as dreamers, as introverts and sensitive creatures, the odd and the offbeat, the misfits and misunderstood, who understand each other, should put our minds together, and comfort and reach out to each other, in order to build unconventional yet personally satisfying lives. We can’t live the life society has set out for us, not if we want to be miserable and anxious and unfulfilled; we simply must at least try find another way, another path. We are in control of our lives, our every thought and word and action determining our future and who we become; and if have lost some of that control, then we simply must regain it. We can. I can. You can.