Journalling 012 -- If I were a folk of leisure

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Today’s journalling prompt is to imagine that I have been provided with a liveable income for the rest of my life, not too much money so as to be rich, but enough so that I didn’t need to work. The point of this being to reflect on how I would spend my time as that would denote the priorities in my life. Again, this is something I’ve been thinking of recently as the possibility of actually having a mortgage and owning a house in the future seems like a tangible possibility, whereas once it seemed like it could never be. I should qualify that.

It’s no hidden conspiracy that my generation has been dubbed Generation Rent because of the dire situation of the UK Housing market. Whilst I shan’t get into the ins and outs, it basically means that house prices are ridiculously high and that my entire generation is being sucked into a neo-feudalism where we live in a permanent state of paying rent to landlords. If you think my use of the term neo-feudalism was a bit dramatic, re-read the language in that previous sentence. Permanent, rent, landlords. Aye.

Anyway, I’m incredibly privileged to have gone to University, even if it landed me in crippling student debt, and to have earned myself a 1st Class Computing Science degree from a respected school which, if the media is to be believed (hmm), is hot as shit right now. So once I finish my PhD, the chance to slide into full-time employment seems real. This would grant me a salary, and therefore the ability to get a mortgage. Having already wrestled the lifestyle inflation demon mostly to the ground (damn you crafting), my basic monthly expenditure is pretty low when I’m not on holiday or buying for people’s birthdays. This means, with careful planning, that I could pay off my student debt and my mortgage relatively quickly. Although that would still likely leave me approaching the age of 40…

Anyway, I had a romantic notion in my head of what I would do once my basic expenditures are taken care of. This romantic notion consists of moving from full-time to part-time work in terms of income, and using my spare labour to focus on other aspects of my life that would suffer under the tyranny of a 40-hour work week. I would spend more time training, and a lot more time crafting. I would probably increase the amount of time that I spend volunteering, and attempt to travel a lot more. I don’t plan on having kids, or living with a romantic partner. What follows is a short scenario of my romanticised view of a day in the life of leisure

A Day in the Life

It’s a training day. I awake at 0450, and rise. A few minutes are spent gathering and folding my bedding into a cupboard, followed by the futon mattress that I sleep on. I dress in my training gear and move outside to train. My backyard is simple, and small, but has a pull-up bar bolted to the wall just out of reach if standing, and a simple shed at the bottom of the space near the gate. My training session consists primarily of calisthenics strength exercises, but is followed by a series of either sprints or Tai Chi movements depending on how I am feeling that day.

After an hour of training, I move inside and strip off to wash in the bathroom basin. My training clothes are either sent to the laundry basket or folded into a drawer depending on their state. I dress in my leisure clothes, and begin cooking myself breakfast which consists of eggs fried in lard, and some pickled vegetables on the side. Breakfast and the obligatory two or three rounds of tea are accompanied by the sound of a podcast pumped from my phone through a small speaker system that mimics the aesthetic of a tabletop radio.

Since I am not working today, I take a look at a large corkboard that adorns the wall of my kitchen. On it are lists of chores, tasks, and projects that I am working on. I shift through them and select two projects and several chores that are disparate enough to give my day a varied feel.

At approx 0830 I cycle down to my allotment garden, and spend two hours de-weeding, and tending to the chickens that I keep. I harvest their eggs and cycle back to my small flat. Once the eggs are safely in the fridge, I wander to another room, and select some material for today’s project. I dedicate four hours to working the material in the manner for which the project demands. This could be a carving project, a metalwork project, or a materials project. What matters is that it is physical and places me into a focused state. I break for lunch, a stew that I’d made in batch, and then get back to work. After the material is worked in the way that I want, I tidy up after myself and move to my workstation where my laptop sits. My second project of the day is digital, and is working with the material of software and electronics. I glance at the small notepad on my workstation to read the note I left myself upon finishing last session, and begin where I left off. I take breaks as often as I need to with this form of labour, and often spend several minutes pacing the kitchen waiting for tea to brew whilst I work through a logic problem. At the end of the session, I upload my project to an Open Source project repository in whatever format is appropriate (software source code, electronic circuit design, etc)

It’s evening now, and I’ve not explicitly planned to do anything, and I know that the next day holds neither work nor a training session. I ring around a few friends, and decide to head down to the Quayside where I’ve a small sailboat moored. Together we skipper the spool down the Tyne river and just out of its mouth, and eat an evening meal that is prepared by BBQing meat and vegetables on the boat. Around 2300, we sail back up the river and I am home by midnight. I unpack my bedding, and lay down to sleep.