Al Humphreys’ twenty questions — and I suggest you answer them too — came at just the right moment; when you suddenly find yourself wrestling with time and priorities and wondering if the path you set yourself on is still the right one.
(It’s worth facing an uncomfortable truth or two sometimes. As a more talented writer than me once said, “no legacy is so rich as honesty”…)
1. Do you earn enough money?
No. I currently don’t earn enough to keep a roof over my head and pursue my (inexpensive) interests. [At the start of 2012 I vowed to reconcile this with my passion for adventure and storytelling — launching Janapar will be a milestone in that process.]
2. Do you enjoy your job?
Yes. But it’s not yet generating any income. I think of now as the ‘time investment’ period. [‘Job’ is a loose term in this case. I have spent the last six months on nothing but adventuring and storytelling projects, of which I am the sole progenitor. So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the closest thing I’ve got to a ‘job’.]
3. Do you prefer Saturday or Monday?
Honestly, I can barely distinguish between the two… [I seem permanently out of sync with the modern world of work, in more ways than this.]
4. What would you like to be doing one year from now? Can you make that happen?
Processing the aftermath of my next big expedition project. And yes. [My next big expedition project, by the way, will be announced very soon.]
5. What would you like to be doing five years from now? Will you make that happen?
Raising a family (gulp) with the time and impetus it deserves. And yes. But planning five years into the future requires a big leap of faith. [I.e. I generally try to focus on the present.]
6. What would you do with your life if you were a billionaire? Is it possible to live a modified version of that life anyway?
I’d employ other people to take over the admin and the stuff I currently botch together myself out of necessity. And I’d be less reluctant to part with cash for rent/food/bills. Otherwise I wouldn’t change anything major. [It’s really nice to be able to give this answer honestly.]
7. How much could you cut your outgoings by? How much time at work does that equate to?
I barely spend anything beyond the (really) bare essentials. Reducing it further would mean dumpster‐diving, hitching and cycling everywhere, and squatting, which wouldn’t leave time for much else!
8. Do you have enough spare time to do the things you really enjoy? If not, why not?
I do, but often find myself answering emails, working through to‐do lists – “putting out fires” – instead of doing them. [This is the biggest gripe I have with myself.]
9. What takes up a lot of your time but is neither unavoidable, rewarding nor enjoyable? Why don’t you cut that/them out immediately, or pay somebody to do it for you?
Perfecting things that don’t need to be perfected. Working on it. [See 8.]
10. What mildly pleasant, but pretty pointless things do you fritter too much time doing? How many times a day do you check your email/Twitter/Facebook? How much TV do you watch?
After email, Google Reader is my biggest time sink. The problem with email is that dealing with it (i.e. replying to it) engenders yet more in return. Twitter/Facebook is minimal, thankfully. And I’ve never owned a TV.
11. What would you like to do more of?
Seeing friends. Unfortunately, most of them are too busy. [This is my biggest gripe with modern society. Stop working so hard! Be spontaneous! Enjoy life!]
12. What motivates you to do something well?
Personal satisfaction, and the opportunity to learn new crafts and skills and perspectives through the process of making and doing. [My motivation is directly tied up with being able to do what I love, all the time. I imagine that’s a common equation.]
13. Who do you envy, and why?
People who can take photographs like this. People in the field of adventure who earn a comfortable income through it. And…
I envy people who are not at all ambitious and are content to pootle around having a pleasant, happy, gentle life. [As Al put it.]
Can’t do much better than that!
14. If you were 100 and looking back on your life, would you be happy with a life well‐lived?
I think I’d be happy with my 20s, for sure. Difficult to go further than that since I’m not yet 30!
15. What makes you proud, satisfied, and content?
Seeing my wife happy. Seeing my projects positively affect someone without them knowing I’m watching. Knowing that I’ve overcome a tangible personal barrier. [My personal goals need to be balanced with helping and sharing for them to make much sense.]
16. What makes you frustrated, bored, and unfulfilled?
Reaching the evening with no sense of progress, despite not having left my desk all day.
17. What would you do if you had more talent?
Improvise on the piano. [One day…]
18. What would you do if you had more guts?
Stand up and tell my story to a crowd. [One day…]
19. What would you do with your life if nobody was watching, judging or commenting?
Write a diary instead of a blog. Travel selfishly instead of wondering how my trips might be communicated. [But being part of a community adds all sorts of intangible value to life.]
20. What are you going to do about all this?
Been working on that since my private New Year’s Resolution to earn a living through my adventures by the end of 2012. I won’t know whether or not this has been successful until the end of the year. But I’m happy with the progress made thus far.
Well, that’s my resolved existential conundrums for the month! Dare you copy‐paste Al’s questions into the comments here and answer them yourself?