Putting Some Fire in Your Belly

When I got back from my expedition to Scotland in April I was floating around for a few weeks before my feet properly touched the ground. I was so chill, ever so mellow, nothing could phase me or sour my mood of contentment and connectedness with myself and my world.

It’s a phrase that possibly does get over-used but that trip was definitely life changing for me. Lots of things lined up at the same time, thoughts I’d already been having, and I came home with a really strong, almost physical resolve to focus on enjoying each day of my life. Not sacrificing most of it in order to work towards some future ideal.

In other words I now knew with certainty that I needed to be enjoying the ride a lot more.

Fast forward a few months and whilst that drive to enjoy the now was – and is – still strong within me, I had started to realise that there was something else that was missing. I had a rough idea of what it was but as is so often the way, my mind had not yet deigned to to fit all the pieces together for me.

So, still with this low level feeling that I was looking for something I headed off to West Wales to spend a few days at the Five Simple Steps Summer Camp.

As it turned out it was a very pleasant gathering of mostly web, or other creative industry folk – all ‘makers’ in some way – and we spent a few days whiling away the time. There were hands-on workshops: letterpress printing, whittling wood, making bread as well as a few ad-hoc talks and ample opportunities to go exploring in the beautiful woodlands or along the river (which a few of us even went swimming in one morning). Couple this with wholesome, freshly made food, great beer and a group of engaging people it was a pretty special few days at a lovely venue.

It was obvious that a lot of my peers at the event has also gotten a lot out of it and there was talk of people getting themselves a cheap printing press off ebay, of them never buying bread from a shop again and I’m sure there will be a spike in the sales of small axes over the coming weeks!

I too felt inspired but in a slightly different way. The experience filled the gap for me. I now knew what my brain was very ineffectually trying to tell me: I had been lacking purpose. 

I now know that my purpose, for now at least, is to focus my efforts on finding a past-time that not only engages the maker in me but that I can over time also turn into an industry, that is to say I can make some money doing it and – most importantly – do some good with it along the way. I had always thought this was green woodworking or woodland management, running courses or something similar, but that’s my special tonic, something I want to keep as a hobby and not sully with industry; I don’t want it to become a job.

Something one of my permaculture teachers, Chris Dixon, said to us at one of the lectures on my PDC a few years back has been bouncing around my head since I came home:

We all need a couple of income streams and at least three hobbies that can become income streams

Yes. This.

I’m trying to ensure that I provide at least one take-away from each post that I write, something actionable. But for this one I can only leave you with a question.

Do you have a purpose? Once you (and if applicable your family) are fed and watered, once you’re intellectually stimulated and you’ve had some fun, what is driving you?

If you’re not sure and you might like that question answered then I can highly recommend that you you try to disconnect from your normal day to day and do something completely different occasionally.

Disconnect to reconnect. Feed your creativity. Try to find that spark to – as was the starting premise of the summer camp – put a fire in your belly. Don’t worry if the thought of camping or being in the woods fills you with dread. You don’t have to do that. But I think that doing something completely different now and again will definitely help you answer this question and if nothing else it’ll help you find some peace.

I already have a career & business that stimulates me and it won’t be going anywhere soon. However, I know that at some point it will have a sell-by-date. Either I’ll be too old or things will have moved on and I won’t enjoy it any more. When I get to that point I want other things that I can turn my hand to and to keep me engaged (and fed!).

All I need to do now is to find out what those things might be 🙂