Letters to the Editor: The Quanswer

To send a letter to the editor, simply write in. You’ll get a reply and we’ll anonymise any blogged version.

message-in-a-bottle

Hello Robert,

I am an AV Technician — means nothing to me either. The “A” part is for “Audio,” on which I did a course many years ago. I’d set out wanting to learn something about producing my own music in my own studio if I ever got to build one. I never did. Even so, I persevered and got a qualification (woohoo) in something I wasn’t interested in. I suppose I wanted to have a qualification to prove myself to others.

I then came to London in search of a job I didn’t want in radio. I enjoyed working with gifted and talented people and held the first ever internet radio show, so I was in the right place for the wrong reasons. I met someone who told me about AV – and I went on another course to learn about the “V”. I soon felt I was in the wrong place with the wrong reasons. I am still persevering. Why?

A lot of what you say and write, I know already in my mind but am less able to express in words. You seem to do it fine, like Alan Watts or Nietzsche or even Mooji. So here I am, re-assessing what to do work-wise, and your message is resonating. I have at least found a Quanswer (question answer) to my search. So thanks for the website and writings.

Like you, I have attempted stand-up [comedy] a few times and it’s a buzz to bomb and to have some instant creative outlet. I am still attempting it, but its not really the best comedy out there — okay, its one of the worst but I am still enjoying it.

I haven’t really attempted at being a [professional] stand-up or even thought about pursuing it, but after meeting [a famous comedian] I started to look into it. I even did a course here in London (yes, another one. I am so readily conned by courses, yet I get easily bored of study). I find it hard to write and perform my written stuff. So a lot of the times I go out raw and I hit the floor quickly. Hard stuff, but enjoyable. When I compare myself to proper comics, it seems to be about finding that persona – just not sure yet.

All the best,
Michael


Hi Michael. What you’ve experienced is fairly typical. You start with good, creative intentions but then make a series of pragmatic, not-half-bad decisions until you find yourself in a cul-de-sac. If you’ve read my book you’ll know about the life audit. I’d suggest this exercise as a good place to start in figuring out what to do next.

I think what you do in stand-up is more valuable than anything you (or anyone else) will do in AV. It’s art, baby. I’d rather be a shit artist than a great dullard. Here’s an inspiring quote from Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the patron saint of art in my town of Glasgow: “There is hope in honest error, none in the icy perfection of the mere stylist.” I suppose he means it’s better to try something bold and in earnest and to get booed off the stage than to slave away doing a perfect, marketable job of something that doesn’t particularly matter.

Here’s a thought regarding the finding of the comic persona, and also with irresponsible reference to your tendency to be seduced by courses. Why not go on a Gaulier clown course in Paris or Brighton? They teach you to “find your clown”. Loads of great comedians have done it: Nina Conti, Simon Amstell, Dave Thompson.

There. It finally happened. I suggested in earnest to someone that he run away and join the circus.

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Letters to the Editor: The Escape is (almost) Complete

To send a letter to the editor, simply write in. You’ll get a reply and we’ll anonymise any blogged version.

message-in-a-bottle

Hi Robert,

Next Wednesday is my wife’s last day of work down at [Evil Corp], and quite possibly her last day of work, period.

She has committed to taking a minimum of one full year off, and in the new year will join me at the trading desk, aka our kitchen counter. I predict with some confidence that this will be the permanent end of work for both of us, because we have set things up to be on an even keel, expense-wise.

Because my wife has been working, it only felt like we’d half made it [after my own escape], but with the pending end of her contract I suddenly realized “holy shit, we actually did it”. It opens up some real possibilities, and now we get to settle in, take stock, and figure out better ways to use our time. Exciting times!

I think it’s important for people to know that they don’t have to figure everything out at the start. Our escape to freedom took shape over the course of several years (we started in earnest back in 2012), and a lot of scheming, planning, and effort has gone into making this a reality. Although we didn’t have a detailed plan in the beginning, and we didn’t have all the answers, we had a very strong sense of where we wanted to be. So my advice to readers is to keep that desired situation front and centre, and just keep plugging away at it, regularly reevaluating their situation and asking “where am I? where do I want to be? what is the next step?”

Personally, I feel quite vindicated, because along the way there were doubters and naysayers, and there were even times when self-doubt crept in. But I must also give credit where credit is due, and I’d like to extend a heartfelt “Thanks!” to New Escapologist. The interactions I’ve had with you, and the many thoughts provoked by your blog, magazine, and book have acted as a sounding board and shaping influence, and have above all lent a certain legitimacy to what we were already sensing. I really mean that. We owe you a debt of gratitude.

Keep doing what you do, Rob. It’s a good message.

Cheers,
L

Rob writes: Excellent news. Sounds like the strife is almost over. A year is a good amount of time to take off. Maybe your partner won’t like it and will want to go back to work, but maybe she’ll love it. It’s a choice, which is different from having to work. Either way, that’s the end of it. You’ve fled The Trap.

Thanks for the encouragement there too. I’ve been thinking carefully about what to do next with New Escapologist and have been close to shutting up shop, wanting to concentrate on other writing. That’d be a shame though, wouldn’t it? So I think I’ll keep plugging away at the message albeit in the more modest forms of the online essay series and the blog. Feeling fairly buoyed about it.

The post-print phase of New Escapologist is just beginning. Go here to join in.
You can also buy all thirteen issues in print or PDF (in newly discounted £20 bargain bundles) at the shop.

Letters to the editor: I don’t believe I’ve had depression and anxiety all this time

To send a letter to the editor, simply write in. You’ll get a reply and we’ll anonymise any blogged version.

message-in-a-bottle

Hi Robert,

I’ve just read your book Escape Everything! I don’t want to blow smoke up your arse or anything but I think it’s changed my life. I feel like I’ve been handed the golden ticket to the Chocolate Factory, and therefore, I thought I better write a thank you letter to Willy Wonka.

I’ll tell you why I enjoyed it so much. I’m approaching 30 years old, and at my last count (just now) I’ve had 30 different jobs, moved to different parts of the UK searching for something but not exactly knowing what. I’ve been on pills for anxiety and depression and all the time struggling to explain to my peers and family what is wrong. Embarrassed. I’ve had most jobs you can imagine and hated every single one of them. I’ve done undergraduate and graduate degrees and saddled myself with huge amounts of debt in search of a better job (utopia).

I’ve quit most of them or made some lame excuse about them and even lied about being sacked in a few of them, and at times even got myself sacked on purpose.

I joined [a government agency] last year and finally thought I’d do a proper job, until the pointless paperwork, double standards, and general negativity all day got the better of me. All to the amazement, amusement and astonishment of my peers and family.

For years I’ve been walking sheepishly around the self-help section in Waterstones and my local library, trying to find something to help me fill the void, make sense of the world, all with limited success. I’ve watched countless YouTube videos and TED Talks all imparting some trite, American, positive-thinking, right-wing drivel.

It wasn’t until I read your book that I started to think there might be other people in the world who share the same thoughts and aspirations as me and are actually serious about walking the talk. Of course, if you ask most people they hate their jobs but they just get on with it because that’s just what you do, should do, or what society, family and friends expect you to do.

It’s a funny, well-written and comforting book, which has given me clarity for the first time in my adult life.

I don’t believe I’ve had depression and anxiety all this time: I’ve had work depression and I’m sick of it. This new perspective is going to see me make some difficult decisions that will probably let everyone conclude that I’ve definitely lost my marbles. I simply don’t want to work for another 30-40 years for the man, for 40 hours a week with people I can’t stand, just to be bullied in to buying some shite that I don’t need. I’m looking to dedicate my life to the cause of blissful, minimalist idleness and I’d like to help others do the same.

Thanks for writing the book and I wish you all the best for the future,

F

★ Buy the brand-new Issue 12 of New Escapologist at the shop; buy our most popular digital bundle; or get the Escape Everything! book.

Letters to the Editor: the dice man sent me here so there

message-in-a-bottle

Hi Robert,

I am here by chance, after reading an article on Luke Rhinehart’s webpage. He mentioned your book and I cant wait. I am looking forward to reading your way of thought – Escape Everything will be my introduction to your works.

I just wanted to… I don’t know really. The dice man sent me here so there.

Cheers,

E. in Sweden

>More letters to the editor

★ Buy the brand-new Issue 12 of New Escapologist at the shop; buy our most popular digital bundle; or get the Escape Everything! book.

Letters to the Editor: Unlocked

message-in-a-bottle

Hi Rob,

Just handed in my notice!

New Escapological achievement unlocked.

I thought you should be the first to know.

N.

★ Buy the latest print issue of New Escapologist at the shop; buy our most popular digital bundle; or pre-order the book.

Letters to the Editor: Leaving NATO

message-in-a-bottle

Hi Rob,

You might not remember me because last time we exchanged emails was three years ago, but I thought an update was in order.

Three years ago, I told you how I discovered New Escapologist whilst working as a naval officer in NATO. I have now said “Goodbye to all that” and I’m working on the production of a documentary on radical life changes, travelling six months around the world with my best friend to film people who have been through this process of change.

If you’re interested, here’s the blog where we’re posting videos, written pieces and photographs. I recommend Episode Zero: the adventure begins and Episode One: Meeting John Whelan.

I can’t stress enough how instrumental discovering your blog has been in making this decision. Thank you!

Gwenn.

Hello Gwenn! This is wonderful news and of course I remember you. It was 2011 when we last spoke, but I don’t get email from NATO very often. Thank you for the update. It’s always interesting to hear about readers’ escape plans and extremely gratifying when they come to fruition as yours has. We can tell the readers about your project and blog through Letters to the Editor. But now: have a marvelous adventure. RW.

★ Tired of the everyday grind? Pre-order the New Escapologist book today.

Letters to the Editor: Catch 22

The first “Letter” proved popular enough, so here’s another. If you’d like to be featured, simply write in.

message-in-a-bottle

Hi Rob,

I have enjoyed reading your blog (discovered via Mr Money Moustache) greatly since forming my own escape plan. I liked the poster of Rita Hayworth from The Shawshank Redemption and have been thinking of ways to leave a copy at work to be found when I’m gone.

It also got me thinking about Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 which is another amazing escape story. The ending is so powerful as Yossarian paddles off in his dinghy not knowing if he will live or die but with his dignity intact. Also, the character of Orr must be the ultimate role model for Escapologists everywhere. He was regarded as insane/idiotic for continually crashing his plane into the sea but was all the while formulating and practicing the perfect escape plan.

I don’t recall you ever featuring Catch 22 but it does have so many parallels and themes to many of your messages.

S

Dear S. You *should* leave a Rita Hayworth poster at your office! The clever kids will get the reference. Those who don’t will see the movie eventually and it will finally occur to them what happened. Alternatively, you could print off a copy of this symbol and leave it pinned to a notice board somewhere. Nobody will understand it but it’ll draw less attention than Rita and you’ll be more likely to get away with it. I’m certain I’ve mentioned Catch 22 in the blog or the magazine somewhere, but perhaps I haven’t. I’m fond of that novel too though, especially Orr. I also like the poor soul who screams all night: he represents “the others”. Rob

★ Tired of the everyday grind? Pre-order the New Escapologist book today.

Letters to the Editor: The Weird One

Our print magazine doesn’t have a “letters to the editor” section. I long ago chose to shun the usual magazine ephemera (news, reviews, letters, ads) in favour of evergreen essays, opinions and stories.

I stand by this decision because it means our content can properly engage instead of distract, and also that our mags are still readable and relevant long after publication.

Still, I sometimes wonder if a “letters to the editor” section wouldn’t provide a sense of community around New Escapologist. It would confirm that there are other Escapologists out there: some successful, others struggling, but all with the shared and uncommon tendency to take escape seriously.

Well, luckily we have the blog. If you’d like to submit a Letter to the Editor, feel free to get in touch. Just let me know if you’re happy for it to appear on the blog.

Here’s our first LttE.

message-in-a-bottle

Good morning/afternoon Rob,

I’m extremely excited to dive into the back issues. I’ve been a follower of your blog for some time and have experienced a complete 180 in my mindset over the past 1-2 years in regards to escaping it all!

I am actually a Certified Public Accountant in the USA located in one of the wealthiest parts of the country. The way I was raised and the things I have noticed as I’ve matured have caused me to rethink my whole mentality and what it means to “Live the American Dream”.

Seeing countless “wealthy” individuals in my hometown driving the luxury automobiles and building the $1-million+ mansions, all the while being shackled to creditors and ultimately their desks, has forced me to rethink my direction in life and strive to focus on something more fulfilling than punching the time card, taking a paycheck and keeping up with the Joneses.

Thankfully, I have been able to share my new attitude with many of my friends and colleagues in the hopes of helping them to revamp their total fiscal mindset (and not the typical tax advice that a larger mortgage/interest helps for taxes).

However, as I’ve become more open about my thoughts, plans, new mindset, I’ve met with a strange reaction. I’m being perceived as the “weird” one! It has actually been completely entertaining to see people’s reactions and their defense of the current system.

Anyway, I’m sorry to ramble. My point is that I am excited to read more and would be very interested in helping you and/or contributing to your mission if there is a need. I am not looking for compensation, only for a way to express my thoughts and research and/or to help refine others’ similar thoughts/research.

Thank you again,
L

Dear L. Thank you for writing in. I like the quotation marks you put on “wealthy”, especially given your job as an accountant to the American rich. Since coming to Canada, I’ve met a lot of these “wealthy” suburban types and it’s hard to see how they’re anything of the sort. If they’re in debt to creditors, it doesn’t matter how big or well-appointed their house is. Surely purchasing power isn’t the same thing as wealth, even in the world of finance. It can’t be healthy. For my sins, I went to an event at the Ritz recently and rubbed shoulders with multi-millionaires. They’re all insane, incapable of intelligible conversation or even dressing themselves properly. I can only imagine they’ve been driven mad with anxiety over the vast sums of credit (Mirror Universe money) they’re handling.

★ Tired of the everyday grind? Pre-order the New Escapologist book today.

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