How To Be Free

I’ve begun reading Tom Hodgkinson’s How To Be Free, a super book about how to live life fully. The description on the back of the book states,

If you’ve ever wondered why you bother to go to work, or why so much consumer culture is crap, then this book is for you. Looking to history, literature and philosophy for inspiration, Tom Hodgkinson provides a joyful blueprint for a simpler and freer way of life. Filled with practical tips as well as inspiring reflections, here you can learn how to throw off the shackles of anxiety, bureaucracy, debt, governments, housework, supermarkets, waste and much else besides.

Some of the chapters include:

  • Break the Bonds of Boredom
  • The Tyranny of Bills and the Freedom of Simplicity
  • Cast Off Your Watch
  • Smash the Fetters of Fear
  • Escape Debt
  • Submit No More to the Machine, Use Your Hands
  • Live Mortgage-Free, Be a Happy Wanderer
  • Stop Working, Start Living

I think you get the idea. You can also check out the author’s website, The Idler.

The book fits in well with how I have chosen to live my life the past three years since I left the Watkinson School and gone off to do my own thing. Living without a car, in a smaller apartment, with minimal expenses has freed me to travel the world (and get to meet some of YOU who read this blog 😉

As I look to the future, I feel much more in control of my life than ever before. I cannot imagine going back to a 9-5 job like I did for years before I arrived at Watkinson. Even going back to a school, even a cool one like Watkinson, seems too constrictive for me right now.

Today marks the one year anniversary of my mom’s death. Strange how near she has felt to me all year long. I miss her tremendously, but I also feel closer to her than I ever imagined during her illness. Those people we love become part of us even when we are separated by all sorts of distances. I learned much from my mom’s life and from her death. These lessons give me a certain fearlessness and stability that I previously had not known.

Also, ever since the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference, I feel I have been released, or I have released myself to live life on a new level. I feel as if I have driven out demons from my past–the quest to be ex-gay, the oppression of a religious system that operates from place of fear, the resistance to be authentic.

I feel as if I have landed back into my body after decades of living as a disembodied, lost soul. Through my performances of Homo No Mo I purged my system of toxins and helped sort out what I had done to my life and let others do to me. I feel free and a hunger to be freer. The best gift I can give to mom and to myself is to live well. I feel excited to see what that looks like.
Thanks Trevor for taking this photo of me on top of the canal tunnel in the Cotswolds.

This post has 9 Comments

  1. Barry on September 5, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    How to Be Free appears to not be available at in the USA. There are similarly titled books by the same author at in the USA, but that exact book (the link you gave) is for (UK).

    The concept is intriguing.

  2. Jarred on September 5, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    I’m glad things are going so well for you.

    I may have to check out the book you mention. It sounds interesting, though I can’t really picture myself living the kind of life you have right now.

  3. John on September 5, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Inspiring words, Peterson. I’m moved to hear of the closeness you feel to your mother and the profound sense of freedom that is yours after the Survivor’s Conference. It’s amazing how your healing process has become a shared experience–how Doin Time purged toxins from yourself while it simultaneously helped heal me and many others.

    I know that the life you are now living is more than adequate reward for what you have done… but as someone that has benefited deeply from your efforts, thanks, Peterson.

    And Bravo 🙂

  4. alex resare on September 5, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    You have learned well my friend. One of the biggest lies is that freedom comes through hard work focused on getting money.

    Right now freedom to me includes working a lot. That is because I like what I am a part of at work.

    The last year and a half I have worked a lot with setting my self free from rules and regulations. Mostly my own rules of how to be to be well behaved. For example not telling my boring story to total strangers. Had we met two years ago instead of one I would never ever even said hello (no need to disturb the actor, not even to tell him that he rocks, he probably already know that and why would he care about my opinion).

    Now I might be a bit odd but my life is never boring and I know my self so much better. For me it was the biggest of blessings to be consider a freak by others. Without that I would never had dared to start walking without a map made by others.

    Freedom rocks!

  5. Auntie Doris on September 5, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    Inspiring indeed. Your thoughts made me cry today. I have been so caught up with work and today I am tired and poorly and generally feeling under-the-weather – not a good combination for me.

    When I arrived back at work after Greenbelt I realised that I spend so much of my time advising my clients on how to be free, and yet in reality my personal freedom feels limited. Some of those are choices I have made, and I guess I am now wanting to start making different choices.

    At the moment my head feels cluttered because my physical environment is also cluttered. I have started to clear out my flat, to get rid of all the shit that I don’t need; stuff that takes up head-space when there isn’t room for it.

    I guess for me the challenge is, how do I pursue a simpler life? I believe God put me in this job for a reason, but sometimes the emotional investment is overwhelming. More than anything I do not want my job to become ‘me’. Henri Nouwen said “The great paradox of our lives is that while we are often very concerned about what we do, or still can do, we are most likely to be remembered for who we were.”

    I need to pare down, read more, think more, reflect on who God is and on who I am and what I do. Somehow I need to find myself in the middle of the chaos. Some days I think I am succeeding, but at other times I feel like I am drowning.

    Thanks Peterson… you are irritatingly though provoking at time.

    A x

    Ps) I didn’t meant to post a blog-like comment! I have my own blog for such ramblings!!

  6. Jimbo on September 5, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts here and best wishes for your ‘life on a new level’.

  7. Tonya on September 6, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    sounds like a great book. maybe i’ll try to find it.

  8. Tonya on September 6, 2007 at 4:05 pm
  9. brittanicals on September 8, 2007 at 3:53 am


    I spent about 18 years without a 9 to five job, raising four sons. Now my husband is disabled, and the costs of raising said sons has led me to seek regular employment. I have broken free of many of the boxes that I built around myself, many,many of the old tapes in my head (“your just a housewife, you could never make it out there, your only capable of cleaning and drudgery, ect. ect.). And guess what? Moving outside has given me a new perspective–I can see now how downright HARD what I did at home was, and take pride in my accomplishments.

    And so I found my freedom in my 9-5 gig.

    God bless you, Peterson, and may we both continue to find our freedom in what ever circumstances life brings.

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