We all want to be productive. To get shit done. As though ticking things off an endless list was the one antidote against existential dread. If you grit your teeth and work round the clock, hustle culture promises success and fulfilment, albeit at some rather undefined moment in a very vague future. Really, we should start calling it the hustle cult. My American friends bemoan the money-centric attitude of their compatriots for whom career is the sole and unquestionable focus. As a result of a unique historical equation in which protestant work ethics met the American Dream, amassing capital is the ultimate virtue; a hedge against poverty, injustice and social exclusion that protects yourself and your loved ones — and, according to the more right-leaning school of thought, this wealth will magically improve the lives of everybody else around you. Bolster the economy, earn more, spend more, pay more… The capitalist hamster wheel goes on and on.
In my naivety, I thought that I had escaped it in two quick strokes: first, by quitting my full-time employment and becoming a working artist and a non-profit director. Secondly, by moving away from the city and settling on the edge of a vast forest, with the woods extending on one side of the house, and horse paddocks on the other.
Without a clear schedule and a stable source of income, instead of building a peaceful life in which relationships and creativity take precedence, I had put myself on a hamster wheel of writing, home improvement, fundraising, life admin — and never, absolutely never feeling like I was getting enough done. For a while, I kept telling myself that should a hefty lump of money fall into my hands, that feeling would stop; that my hamster wheel only keeps spinning because of the lack of financial security. However, the more I think about it the more I realise it could not be further from the truth, for it is not an actual lack of means that spurs me on but the same capitalist culture that makes people take on side jobs, work overtime, and obsess about ticking things off their... continue reading now→