I read a report the other day that said the babies born for 15 years after 2010 (our grand babies!) will be known as Gen A, the Alpha Generation. Pffffft, as if we need more labels. According to the report, these Alpha babies will start school earlier, get more formal training than ever before and then they're expected to work until they're 70 or 80. I can't imagine anything worse than knowing when you start work in your late teens or early 20s, that you'll still be at it 60 years later.
I don't want to spend almost my entire adult life in paid work. I want free time to do what I love without having to clock in somewhere or meet deadlines. Luckily Hanno and I are doing that, but I want our grandchildren to be able to do it, and I want you to be able to do it too. We are not here to keep big business in the black. According to the Dali Lama, the purpose of life is to find happiness (you have to think about that, it's not as one dimensional or simple as it sounds). How can you do that if your government relies on you and your contemporaries to work and keep the economy bubbling along until shortly before you die. It's not fair.
Surely there are others out there who believe that the reward for working hard all through life, paying taxes, upholding the law, voting, raising decent families and building strong communities is that for a decade or two before death, when ambition and strength fade, we leave work behind and spend time doing exactly what we want to do. I am not saying that everyone will want to give up work, I'm sure there will be people who thrive on going to work and really enjoy it, but we need to have the option. It needs to be our choice whether we do that or not. Some of us want free time to get to know our grandchildren, learn a new language or how to play the piano, make the perfect loaf of sourdough, travel, walk, swim, read or just sit under a tree and think.
There was a time in my past when I was quite happy to work hard and spend much of my money on buying whatever caught my eye. But no more. I woke up, I slowed down and I realised there is much more to life than work, spending and acquisition. When I realised that, I found more than I ever expected that made me happy. I found that not spending and being more aware satisfied me, and by making a lot of what I used, I replaced paid work with home-based skill building and production.
Many of your know Hanno and I are hard workers, and have been all our lives. We're working class, proudly so, and we understand the need to work. We also understand why it's healthy for our countries to have a sound and active working population. Work is good for us but we shouldn't work for pay until we drop dead. At the end of a long and productive life, we should be able to look forward to a gentle and free retirement of about 20 years. If we have worked all our lives, paid taxes to help support our economies, have paid off our debt and saved for our retirement, there is nothing wrong with leaving work when we choose to. I would like to see a government that encourages everyone to live within their means, to live simply and if they can support themselves, choose whether they remain at work or not. I'd vote for a government who encouraged us to live frugally, recycle, mend and sew and to work part time so we could have a better work-life balance. I'd like a few leaders to realise there is no such thing as unlimited economic growth.
I know a couple of Generation Alpha babies who will know there is an alternative to life-long paid work. There are a few gems of wisdom I hope to talk to my grandchildren about. Being self-reliant, confident and skilled enough to move life away from the mainstream is just one of them.