I have always regarded freedom as a fundamental value. I’m not sure if it is the fundamental value. Comfort is also good, but it seems like they antagonize each other. Every time I take responsibility for a decision I make, I give up the convenience I would have had to blame someone else for anything that might go wrong (although this relief would not prevent me from facing the undesired consequences of whatever ended up going wrong).
Financial autonomy is freedom meets comfort. To have enough money to afford trying anything, limiting the fear of things going wrong. Freedom as it is, it comprehends the possibility of not doing anything differently. It even enables you to keep working. However, out of pleasure not out of necessity. It is much better.
I list here five decisions I made throughout life that have granted me a degree of freedom I am proud of:
1. Persevering through psychoanalysis. It is about losing the fear of changing. Neurosis is narrow-minded: it only allows you to walk in a single direction. Like in a mirror room, it makes all sides look the same. If you are not fine staying where you are, you move in the only direction you can comprehend. And you hit your head over and over again, because it is better than not moving at all.
Because anxiety (at least mine) pushes one to do more when one does not know what to do. Doing more always seems more adequate than doing nothing at all, whispers anxiety. It is music to corporate ears. They offer you a career, as if nothing else mattered. And then you run, without knowing where to.
Only you can take the mirrors away. However, you may need someone to tell you where there is a mirror. Projections. How long does it take to realize them?
The goal is to transform all this ability of doing more into the confidence that I could be able to do what I wanted, including making my own decisions. It was enough to realize how much I already had to do. And did. It is an investment: to let go of the references now to be better oriented in the future.
2. Keeping up with freedom payments. This whole psychoanalysis thing takes time. However, if it had to start, it was because something was wrong. If something was wrong, change was necessary. Probably, things could not just be the same forever and ever. In other words, earning a good salary had a cost I would eventually not be able to afford.
Nevertheless, does it make sense to make the most of the current way before you find your alternative? It is very good to try everything that money can buy. As far as consumption is concerned, more is always better than less, without a doubt. However, the pleasures of consumption do not eliminate the distress of being in a position you know you don’t belong to, except for the money. It may compensate for that, at most. A prisoner may use Egyptian cotton linen, gilded faucets and eat caviar. But he will still be in jail.
Immediate maximization of indulgence alienates freedom. Maximization calls for a life style that requires indulgences. It makes it hard to save for freedom. But I have always regarded freedom as a fundamental value.
It is all about perspective. And choices. Saving may be seen either as “giving up immediate pleasures” or as “paying the installments for future freedom”. It is worth it.
3. Cultivating a reading habit. What if I had become addicted to playing polo? Maybe I would have become dependent on a high productivity job. If I had fallen in love with polo, probably the high productivity job would have made more sense. In any case, I like to read, which is quite inexpensive, but demands a lot of time. Good books need to be read at least twice. Only when you know what will happen towards the end can you understand why something happened before. Often, I need to read about the book. It happens in those cases in which I feel like there is more than one story being told, but I was only able to get hold of one. Only with time I could really enjoy reading.
4. Detachment. The apartment was customised to the needs of the old corporate life. Once those needs came to an end, the apartment became a source of income via short-term rentals. With an amount equivalent to what I used to pay for condominium fees, I can now rent a new place. True, it has only a third of the size of the previous one. Nevertheless, it sits at the foot of a mountain, a few steps away from trails in the woods. Trees everywhere. And the twilight is pink. As a bonus, it is just a five-minute walk from a club with a nice swimming pool, which costs only 15 euros a month. A ten-minute cycle ride to the beach. On a small island just two hours away from the main cultural metropolises of the Western world.
5. New paradigms. I still go to restaurants. However, dining out for me is now much more related to taking sandwiches, freshly picked figs and a bottle of wine to a trail that finishes at the sea. Or a quinoa salad to have at the beach. Dining out.