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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Retiring From the World of the Wage Slave

And joining the world of the full time writer, at last. Today, as you read this, I’ll be spending my last day as an employee in a large, open-plan office. There, no doubt, my colleagues will make some sort of fuss of me and my departure. It’s traditional. We rightly celebrate this ending of one stage of our working and social lives. Many find the change a wrench, an unwanted end to a role that brings purpose and financial support. For me, however, this ending is something I’ve craved for years. I shall, of course, miss some of those with whom I’ve worked for these years. But the work I won’t miss at all. The office has been a necessary evil for me; no more than a way of earning enough to keep my family from poverty in a world where priorities and systems mitigate against the individual and the creative artist.

Oh, I’m not complaining, though I would have the world examine its priorities and ask many questions about what it thinks important. I understand, from long experience and much variety in employment, that the world is not run for the majority of us. There’s a small elite, self-preserving and self-serving, that controls the conditions under which the rest of us exist. We are, mostly, a necessary evil for those who really run the world. We’re permitted to exist in order to provide the rich and powerful with custom to prop up their system of pointless production and consumption.

Okay; I hear you objecting. I hear your justifications, excuses, reasons and self-deceptive tormenting of logic that allow you to continue with your daily participation in the Big Con. But, from today, I no longer need to fool myself that what I do for a living is worthwhile, vital, essential or even in any way a positive contribution to the welfare of my fellow men. I’m now free to examine my position and understand the pointlessness and self-perpetuating selfishness that drives most employment. I cast off those shackles with glee. I leave that world of the wage-slave with huge relief and a feeling of hyperelation. See, I’ve even coined a word to describe my feelings of release and pleasure.

I’m aware that we’re constrained to compromise. The system is so deeply ingrained that, like religion, it underpins and acts as foundation for almost every aspect of our daily lives. Most are completely unaware of their real position in life. They go to work and do the job that brings them the money to allow them to go from day to day without having to consider the appalling realities of life. In common with most people, I’ve had to make these compromises almost every day of my adult life. I’ve been an employee for 49 years. I’ve been a writer for a little under 46 years, on and off. I’ve not been willing to compromise my writing the way I’ve been forced to compromise in my employment. As a result, I’ve never earned enough from my talents to break free of the chains of the wage-slave. Now, I can ignore the system as I write what I want to write, not what others might dictate I should write. I was never free to make such challenges as a wage slave, though I frequently bent idiotic rules in order to allow common sense and compassion to overcome greed, bureaucracy and injustice.

You’ll note that I’ve so far failed to define the system I’m condemning. That would take a book. And, at present, I have other books to write. But, one day, I’ll give my time and attention to that task. For now, I wish to luxuriate in the balm of freedom and opportunity that will now be my world. Pensions, to which I’ve contributed during my working life, will allow me to continue to provide for the material needs of my family as I step out on a road of self-discovery and enlightenment. A road towards aims I’ve had to hold in check for too long.

I recognise that much of this post will be incomprehensible, problematic, even mildly insane, and perhaps seen as insulting, to some readers. But I’ve had to bow to the will of others for so long, and the sense of freedom that this new stage brings demands an outlet. So, I apologise if I've offended. Those who know me well will understand my meaning. Those who’ve read my work will have at least some comprehension of my position. Time will reveal whether what I believe, feel and care about, proves to be something worthwhile or simply consists of the mistaken conclusions of an overactive imagination.

I started this piece full of the intention to celebrate a stage in life that many face with dread. My tirade against the world of conventional work came as something of a surprise, in spite of acknowledged feelings, and may well have tossed a little water on those celebrations. But it was something I needed to say, and to say publicly. For now, I cheer, shout ‘hooray’, smile, laugh and soar with pleasure into the realms of the unknown that we call retirement.

I shall not, of course, be stopping work. In fact, the real work now begins. But what work it will be, what joy, fulfilment and sheer delight I will have in it. And, who knows? Perhaps I may even sell a few more books. I certainly intend to write more of them.

Watch this space.


J.L. Murphey said...

Stuart, Congratulations on making another milestone! It will be nice tomorrow and not having to stick your nose to the mill stone. Different but oh, the possibilities.

Stuart Aken said...

Thanks, JL. It's a great feeling to be finally free of that particular burden. It hasn't fully sunk in yet. Tomorrow I'll be ploughing through the snow to collect my daughter from university; should be fun crossing the Pennines! After that, I'll have a couple of weeks where I intend to do only a little, including learning to touch type at last, and then it's on with the real work.