Ramblings On Freedom & Personal Responsibility.

Obsessing with freedom lately. What freedom means to me. In a world so volatile, unpredictable, uncertain and increasingly fragile. Not to mention run by a combo of Machiavellian corporations and old school used car salesman pseudo Santa Claus types offering the public their ridiculous nostalgic fantasies, out of date ideologies and last century political systems. All whilst technology and science already operate on a different realm all together… The average Western middle class has never perhaps been more free (?) and equally as close to losing its freedom all together by means of self inflicted ecological collapse, eroding of democracy, increased digital surveillance, loss of privacy and a frustrating lack of general direction.

A sufficient “just good enough” level of personal freedom to start the day with in this chaotic environment is one that can’t be effortlessly lost randomly or by means of insufficient planning or consideration (e.g. market volatility caused by a pandemic destroying your single source of income and thus making you dependent on others for charity and hence no longer free or acquiring a respiratory disease due to heavy smoking and thus having to rely on medical equipment to breath oxygen) is a good place to start and a worthy challenge to tackle though not necessarily easy to come by. 

Our level of freedom as I increasingly come to believe is in our own hands as individuals and subject to the amount of personal responsibility that we are willing to exercise to secure it. We lose our freedom relatively to the degree that we attempt to outsource it (allowing increased government intervention in our personal lives, corporates controlling our data, subject matter experts managing our pensions for us etc) or failure to successfully prepare for rare events that can cause the loss of our freedoms entirely (e.g. by not taking sufficient measures to deal with catastrophes: not having a building insurance to protect you from a fire that destroys your home and everything in it or on a national level the tragic failure of Europe’s Jewry to swiftly enough secure a national home in the early 1900’s resulting in the continuing state of their homelessness in diaspora even whilst Hitler rose to power and which eventually made their genocide in Europe by the Nazis in the 1940’s not only possible but a relatively simple predominantly logistical task).

The process of acquiring this sufficient “just good enough” level of freedom on a personal level and onto which I’m looking lately can perhaps benefit from among many other philosophies also from both the concepts of N.N Taleb’s anti fragility (ie systems that benefit from stress the same way as muscles grow when lifting weights) and Jacob Lund Fisker’s ramblings on what makes a “renaissance man” (focus on increasing your skillset instead of having only one area of specialisation so e.g being a multi instrumentalist as opposed to just a drum player). 

Achieving robustness is the first stop on the roadmap to such freedom. How? 
1) Eliminating any debt and any destructive habits (addictions, dietary failures etc).
2) Keeping a sufficient emergency fund handy (minimum 3-6 months of being able to fund your must haves – in cash and ideally in multiple currencies). 
3) Having “f-you money” accessible to you at all times (ie any amount of wealth that enables you to reject traditional societal expectations or judgement or having to take any BS like bullying from an employer or a sociopath boss or any organisation without fear of financially limiting consequences). 
4) Never exposing oneself to the prospect of financial ruin (in case of a “black swan” event for example or by entering idiotic trades like gambling) and not ever placing all eggs in one basket (e.g choosing to keep your pension in index tracking mutual funds as opposed to stock picking unless of course you have a functioning crystal ball!). 
5) building up an advanced level of living skills (from cooking to gardening to brewing to building your own furniture etc) whilst at the same time operating a multi income source strategy of settled work (not relying entirely on being able to only perform one task for a living at times when the acceleration of technology is so fast that your professionalism into which you have invested your whole life can be made obsolete through automation next year). 
6) keeping your options open, for example by acquiring multiple citizenships. 

Make the above non exhaustive list of ideas a constantly evolving platform to operate from not an end goal. 

From this platform of robustness one can build further towards anti fragility. Physically reaching towards anti fragility by for example combining weight lifting, yoga, rope jumping, kettlebells – all of which placing your muscles, bones , heart, lungs and joints etc under different types of mutually beneficial positive stress. Other examples can be the the studying of languages which have no linguistic connection to each other or of opposed philosophies and systems of thinking to train the mind and grey matter. Meditating to increase knowledge of yourself. Fasting once a week to train the immune system and for cleansing. Rolling naked in the snow or swimming in a hole made in a frozen lake to increase your blood circulation. And so on. On a personal finance level this could mean taking into account the boom and bust economical cycles (e.g. investing also in instruments/assets that balance themselves and each other or can self cleanse at least in theory but also leaving yourself room for those instruments that can directly benefit from a market crash). 

Reaching towards the above and further I find is a never ending process requiring flexible but meticulous planning, constant study, imagination, curiosity, courage, a can do attitude, appreciation of the benefits of experiencing discomfort, optimism and an explosive level of activity and determination to master and optimise oneself. There are no belt systems here like in martial arts or diplomas being handed nor any way of measuring – it’s a philosophy of life that you privately play with and develop through study, trial and error and which you may or may not share with anyone or which may or may not be beneficial on the long term. I sense that in our world in this day and age I have no alternative but to deep dive ever deeper into this exploration myself. Not following a plan = Following someone else’s plan whilst having a finite amount of time available on planet earth and as I have zero trust in the prospect of reincarnation or the existence of an after life where I could try again is just not something I can happily live with. And in any case this is keeping things interesting for me 😉

In the image: the possible outcome from outsourcing your personal responsibility to sort your own headaches to a subject matter expert.

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