The Cost of Not Living

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Hey hey,

Hope you’re all feeling fine and dandy!

Obviously we’re all firmly ensconced in a cost of living crisis, and many people are hurting, and we haven’t even gotten to winter yet, where Putin’s revenge is set to bite, albeit it could also be argued it’s own fault for being asleep at the wheel on the energy situation, but we can save that Pandora’s Box for another day.

For this week’s instalment I’d like to reframe the whole conversation around the cost of NOT living, because all my life I’ve observed somewhat stupefied adults zombying their way through life and I could never understand it.

When I was young, that meant living life to the absolute full. Playing sport like my life depended on the outcome of every single match, even every kickabout at lunchtime.

Once I hit 12, it was about going on adventures with my besties to Brighton and London, partying my face off at the weekends and trying to come up with new and cool ways to push the limits of creativity with our nights out.

Then it became about how I could do a job that felt like a passion, and that enabled me to have fun while I did it, so I followed my love of music into the music industry, which, as it transpired, was slowly dying under the Chinese water torture of illegal downloads, and corporate asphyxiation.

It also meant going to new places. Whether it was hitting Shagaluf with my pals when we were 15/16, travelling for 8 months with them across Asia after A-levels, or all of the misadventures of my 20s.

And then somewhere between 25 and 30, I started to feel like the hedonism model was becoming a bit tired. The creativity around our evenings of merriment, both with friends and family, was drying up. It was beginning to feel routine, dull even, and the frequency and intensity of the hangovers meant the juice just wasn’t really worth the squeeze anymore.

I found myself in a strange void at 28, whereby I foresaw the growing ennui of my late 20s/early 30s contemporaries all chasing the poetry of their youth, or trying to escape the monotony of their present, but there weren’t really any viable alternatives, except maybe settle down with a nice girl.

Now fortunately that happened. The girl I’d been chasing for 8 years finally said yes, and it really was golden. However, it also felt like it came hand in hand with a need for responsibility. For the first time in my life I did a business that I didn’t really enjoy, because it offered financial security. But I hated it. It really helped cement what I’d always intuitively known: I’d rather be poor and fulfilled, than rich and not.

Luckily, I also discovered meditation around this time, and although at first it just made everything better, brighter, more technicolour, after my first retreat it became a pathway of infinite possibility. All of a sudden, that ineffable thing I’d been subconsciously seeking my whole life was somehow here.

I wasn’t the sort of person to shy away from an exciting new pathway of priceless possibility, and so before you know it, I shut down the highly lucrative business, and took the proceeds and went travelling with my girl for 2.5 years. We had no idea what we were doing from month to month, we just kept opening up doorways like some kind of cosmic advent calendar, and life just BLOOMED.

Before you knew it, we were so far down the rabbit hole, that we couldn’t help but resurface with a whole new level of sensibility and understanding.

It didn’t really fit the materialistic worldview that all our loved ones inhabited but we didn’t really care.

Rather than reverse engineer ourselves back into a life that didn’t really hold any real charm or value for us, we decided to set up our little enterprise and see if we could take the world with us. Not only because it promised so much possibility it was wild, with all these incredible, Jedi like milestones along the way, but because it felt IMPORTANT.

The more people we taught, the more people’s lives were transformed. We actually hadn’t really understood how good this thing was until we started sharing it with others, particularly the advanced stuff.

It came at a cost. We constantly lived on the financial edge. We worked too much, and we sacrificed our personal lives and our relationship far too much.

But whilst we could have definitely got that balance better, we were still alive. We were still filled with an epic sense of something bigger than ourselves.

Now that wonderful human being and I ended up consciously uncoupling as Gwinnie calls it, and I’ve continue to carry the torch for as many people as I could. It nearly broke me, and I was on the canvas more times than I can recall, both physically and financially, but we were still blazing a trail.

And then of course the pandemic hit, ruining all of my best laid plans, and I was somewhat forced into exile by circumstance. But do you know what? It opened doors of possibility. I returned to South America, a continent that is rooted in my heart. I finally got to teach people from beyond the confines of the South East of England. I got to slow down, and smell the roses once more. Learn to dance. Conquer a new language. Rediscover weekends that weren’t crammed with courses.

And now, the pathway of living has a fork in the road. I don’t know which one I will travel down, but something I’m certain of is that I’m unlikely to give up on the notion that one of the most important things we can ever do is live life fully.

That will mean different things to different people, but one thing I imagine we can all agree on is that the cost of not living is far greater than the cost of living.

Indeed, one of our favourite times in life is when we play in the garden or in the street when we were young, and spent zero money, we just lived for fun. One of my favourite times in life was living in an absolute hell hole in Balham in 2004/2005 for £295 a month, all bills included. I was walking the streets with holes in the soles of my shoes. I had periods where I lived off bread and tinned soup, but we had a riot!

Even more confirmation of this principle arrived in Colombia when the pandemic nearly sent us under. I was living on £500/£600 a month, including accommodation, and still managing to love life, by keeping it simple and feeding off of the energy of just walking the streets and having open hearted conversations with the locals.

So next time you find yourself moaning about how much more restricted your life is because we as a society are finally being asked to pay our debts, just ask yourself, ‘in this coming phase, how can I still live?’

Because you can always answer this question with courage, creativity and an openness to possibility, and because the cost of not living is a price you will be so unhappy about when it’s time to meet your maker.

If all else fails, remember the trials and tribulations of people in Ukraine, Yemen, and all of those other places in the world where circumstances are truly grim. Remember the blitzkrieg spirit. We can and will prevail, individually and collectively, if in the face of collective challenge, we unite together rather than fragment apart.

With life, love and creativity

Will and the team xxx

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