What is the modern version of this – our Hunter Gatherer past – our ideal Work/Life social setting?
For we know that how we work today is a major driver of stress and poor relationships. Can we live and work as they did?
This short series will explore how we can do this now. Let me start with some features of my life and we can then see if I am really a hunter gatherer. Then in Post 2 we can look out and see how new organizations are emerging that will give people like me and maybe you much more power than when we are just on our own – outside the mainstream. Then in the 3rd and last post, we can look ahead and see what we can do to give this movement of empowering the very small even more power.
So I am what is now known as a Free Lancer. I have worked for myself since 1994. I used to be a very corporate person before that and had never worked for myself then.
Then it was odd to not go back to getting a job – but I wanted freedom more. I am not alone look at what is happening:
In 1980 most of us – about 80% had jobs. But now only 60% do. 40% do not. Something is happening. The age of the Job is surely dying and a new age of the Freelancer is re-emerging. The trick I think is to stop worry about the job and to find your place in this very old way of living.
This is my Freelance – Hunter Gatherer Life today – how does it compare to a job? How does it compare to the classic HG life?
Time – I have huge control over my time. Only in dire circumstances do I not control my calendar. I get up when I want to and my commute is to the room next door. Now I work a lot and long hours but all on my terms. I get paid to deliver outcomes. I have deadlines but how I get there is up to me. So I can mow the lawn when I want. I can go shopping. I can take days off and go and see my kids. Because I don’t have a commute, because I don’t go to all those meetings, I have so much more time than those with jobs. I have to slow down to keep pace with conventional clients. Sometimes I am pressed, but those times are rare. We all have a crisis now and then. But the pace of my life is leisurely - as it was with Hunter Gatherers. Above all I have time for others. Time for my wife and family and time for a network of friends. Not “networking” but hanging time. Being with them. I have time also for me and for reflection. I have time to absorb and wrestle with ideas. I have time to do manual things such as stack wood, mow for hours etc that keeps me grounded and active. I sleep well as I rarely have to get up. Now I am up at dawn but that is my own internal clock and not the alarm.
I have high status – I am seen as an artisan who has been hired because I am an expert in my field. Who does not want to be considered useful? I get paid to be useful. I do very difficult things, so the validation is even more satisfying. My status does not come from my car – I drive a base Hyundai. It does not come from my clothes – my wife thinks I look like a tramp. I don’t earn a lot of money – I earn what I need – so it does not come because I am rich. It comes from me inside. What I know and what I share – for 75% of what I do I do for free. My greatest joy is to be of help to younger men and women. I have a tribe too. A group of dear friends that I share my ideas with and who do the same with me. We teach each other and we go on hunting trips with each other. For we each have skills that the other cannot have and we have learned from “hunting” how much we need each other. More on Hunting later. This is where status came in the Hunter Gatherer society. It comes from the value that each of us has inside. When we are young we have a strong body and lots of energy. It is value that grows as we age. For we become ever more skilled. Later when the body and our energy weaken, it is wisdom. I have a name – I am known as “Rob”.
I live in a small community where I am known. I live on Prince Edward island. A province of Canada that has the population of a small town – 140,000 people. In a sense we all know each other. Of course we don’t but it feels like we do. Being so small, we are all known. No secrets here – NONE. For better or worse, we have a reputation. Such was life in a Hunter Gatherer society. Our social world was small. Your name often represented your character. Now this can be stifling. But I assure you that having a place is better than not. We are designed to feel best when we are known and we have such a place. Now you can find this in a real neighbourhood in a big city but it gets more and more difficult as a regular person to be a somebody in a big city. The smaller the place the less social stress too. In a big city the moment you go out into the streets you have to switch off your social radar. If you don’t the crowds will overwhelm you. The more you switch it off – on the subway, in an elevator, on the sidewalk, the more you keep it off until you may lose your ability to inhabit a place or be with people – even your own family!
Grooming – I also inhabit a small place on the web. I do not have thousands of “Friends” and nor do you. In reality, we have a small tribe online as we do in real life. It is helpful not to forget that – for this small tribe needs your attention. Set your limits too wide, and you have nothing. For this group is your Grooming Buddies. They don’t exist in the conventional workplace where it is everyman for himself. You can have office “friends” but how often do you keep up with them over time. These you take real risks with – do work in dangerous situations when you don’t know much about how it is all going to turn out. They have faith in you and don’t mind the ride if the final prize is not there. These are the pals that you can tell all to. They share your values and they have a great ear. They know you like a long term, lover and accept you for all your foibles. They don’t have all the baggage that your family shares with you. They are vital to your health. They are your hunting partners.
I go hunting – Work in a Job is like farming – it’s all about routines and hard grinding. Getting a contract out of thin air is hunting. Like real hunting, it helps to have a team. There are risks. Sometimes you fail. But there is no feeling like bringing home the mammoth. Or actually even the small deer. We are hunters at heart. The companionship of the hunt is special too. As is sharing the “kill” at the end. For that is what real hunters do – they share. It’s not about domination. Now there are patches where there is no game and some fear about that. But I have designed my life, like a hunter, not to need much. I have set up my life so that we can be quite comfy with very little money. The Hunter Gatherer is no possessed by his possessions – the modern worker is one pay check away from the street. I can have very long stretches of no game.
We do gathering – We don’t rely on my bringing home the bacon. We also gather. My wife has her own areas where she brings in what we need too. And we share how we maintain our other gathering business – we run a small rental business. I am the grounds man and she the inside person. We have a diverse range of small livings that accumulate to give us enough. Takes soem of the pressure off the hunting!
Livings and Life – When I was young and foolish, I wanted to be rich. I made getting rich – I was an investment banker – the sole aim. But when my dad died aged 55, I began to think about what I really wanted to have. And that was a good life. It took a long time to get there, but I have made the switch. I now make a living so that I can have a life. For this is the only one I am sure that I have. Our hunter gatherer ancestors felt the same. Things meant very little to them. But living is important. What you do every day is your life – not your vacation or your retirement. The pay off of a real life is to have made a difference. To have kids and set them up well or to help set up other kids well. To prepare the best future and to have had fun while.l doing this. Life is so short, there is no time to be wasted.
When I was young and foolish, I lost sight of this. Now I think of my kids and all kids. In this very uncertain time what is our legacy? We have mortgaged their future in so many ways. Time to do the work to give them a chance I think. For what will they think of us if we don’t try? What we will think of when we die if we have not tried?
In the next post, I will talk about how many HG’s today are finding networks and tribes that offer more assurance financially that us early pioneers had. I will show you how this way of life is moving from an aberration to a norm for many. Where the hunting is much better!