Yesterday I was standing barefoot in the creek and observed small creatures flourishing in the tiny pool there. About two and a half months have passed since I have last seen my family. Yesterday, we have gathered for honey harvesting. The place is in Mrčna sela and my father was showing us salamander maggots and insects living in the creek.
Standing barefoot in that creek made me thinking (walking the world barefoot has this impact on people, you know! 😅). How many problems we create ourselves in our lives, completely unnecessary? Sometimes we make up stories and problems in our head ourselves. Even more frequently, the environment persuades us that we have a problem and desperately need (to buy) a solution for it.
I hated being wet or dirty for majority of my life. It is still unpleasant thought to imagine stepping in a muddy creek with sneakers 🤯. The first solution that comes to our modernized minds is to swap sneakers with boots. So what one does is that she puts a separating layer of rubber and plastics between our sacred feet and “everything else” that is out there in the “nasty” world. Not many of us think about the other solution, which I believe is ultimately better: leaving the fake comfort of sneakers and stepping barefoot in the unknowns of the mud and pebbles and rotting plants and microorganisms and animals that occupy that small creek.
I have been pondering a lot about how many animals and other living organisms we destroy with all kinds of shoes we put on our feet. How much less trash there would be on the ground if everyone was walking barefoot. How much more we would look around us and where we step instead of staring to our mobile phones if everyone was walking barefoot. How much healthier our feet and legs and spine would be if we’d spent more time barefoot. How much less social and economic segmentation there would be if everyone was walking barefoot. And lastly, how fewer shoes could be manufactured, transported and sold if everyone would be spending more time barefoot.
In my opinion a world described above would be much nicer place to live. Not only for us humans, but for all the other beings as well. And the change, not only that it is financially free for everyone of us to make, it even saves us money! 💸
My point here is not to persuade you that walking barefoot is the way to go from now on (even though that I do recommend you to try). The idea is to demonstrate what interesting conclusions I came up with questioning something as everyday as wearing shoes everywhere we go. I do not want to create a “barefoot religion”, I just treat it as an experiment. But it stunned me how many times in the last month I have started conversations with total strangers because of it. And what kind of thoughts my mind was occupied with that would never spring to life in my head if one day I wouldn’t decide to try my experiment.
To refresh your memory, here is what I wrote down 2 years ago:
I will organize my work around a single goal: on my 30th birthday, I will leave a company for one year. I want to spend a year doing the things most people wish they’d do in their lifetime but never find time to do them. Things like travelling around the world. Things like writing a book. Things like building my own tiny house with your bare hands. Things like opening the shop with Manca without the packaging and plastic waste.
My challenge is the following: when I come back (at 31), I want to find the company at least as successful as when I left it.
To start with, I cannot check ✅ all the items in the list above and say it’s done. But on the other hand, I also don’t want to. In the last 2 years, my retirement (or sabbatical, to be more technically correct) has been a moving target, always changing shape and color. Moreover, it wasn’t my ultimate goal of my work and I am happy that it wasn’t so.
So, why not break it down?
Regarding leaving the ProteusThemes for one year: ✅ done, but in a different way. I feel that Jaka and I have done something better – we realized when it’s time to give up the industry and move on. We keep servicing and supporting ProteusThemes customers (just check our WooCommerce theme changelog) with the same pride and dedication we always did, except that we do not develop new products. Always new and shiny is not a good thing and many customers gladly choose the mature and well supported products. Those that don’t choose to do so must look elsewhere and that’s fine with us.
Regarding travelling the world: done ✅. Special note here: I changed my interpretation what “travelling the world” means. Back then it meant “travelling to some really remote places and staying there for long enough and making enough pictures that other people are envy of my lifestyle”. Today it means taking a walk in the neighbourhood or to Rožnik, going to the nearby countryside. Nowadays, I don’t have such desire travelling somewhere far because of the environmental impact such travelling carries. Instead, I tend to find interesting and beautiful things everywhere I go, even in the proximity of the place we live in.
Regarding writing a book: ❌. I started writing one, but never made it past the first chapter and a half. No regrets. But I can see someday writing and publishing one.
Regarding building my own tiny house with your bare hands: ❌. Not my priority at the moment, but still a plan sometimes later in my life. Definitely I will consider buying existing one before making a new. I tend to dislike anything “new” lately. Maybe renovating an old house nobody wants to live in anymore is a better idea and more aligned with my values.
Regarding opening the shop with Manca without the packaging and plastic waste: done ✅. Rifuzl is my heart and soul, it is becoming better each single day. It was a great decision to follow our dreams about it. I am infinitely grateful that I followed that path despite all the discourage from my social circle in the first year.
The person I am today is definitely a different Primož that wrote the quote above 2 years ago. What is more important that Primož today is less greedy, more peaceful, and happier. This winter was the first one after 4 years that I didn’t fall in depression.
So, what is the conclusion? Am I retired now?
By most people’s standards what “retirement” means I am not.
But my inner self knows that I have achieved much more than I have aimed for two years ago and that writing that article and manifesting the retirement slowly pushed me towards the things I deeply wanted to do in/with my life.
There are too many people, books, events and inspirations that happened in my life in the past two years that made the transformation. Even if I were disciplined enough and I would write down all of them (which is not possible, because many happened unconsciously or without me noticing), that would not be a manual for someone else to follow. Everyone of us is different and what worked for me will not work for you.
Nevertheless, I am returning back many times to some resources, hints and thoughts that have helped me. I want to share them with you because I feel that they can be good starting points to more satisfied life I enjoy today.
Here’s the list:
- “Everything we do, we do out of two reasons: out of fear or out of love. Do less things out of fear and more things out of love.” By David Henzel.
- You cannot eat money and money cannot buy you relationships.
- I was practicing stoicism for less than a year now with great outcomes – thank you Miha Rekar and Domen Kožar for pointing out the book “A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy” after reading my first blog post about retiring at 30.
- Not letting the disruptions and changes in the environment disappoint me or make me sad (consequence of reading the book above and practicing the stoicism).
- Coronavirus – I see it as a great disruption that may steer us as humanity in the better direction.
- Asking the right (wrong) questions lead to better (no) answers. “Not how much, but how **little** do I need to live the life I want?” How much money do I need to have before I can stop working? | Rahul Sen | TEDxBITSGoa
- Article by Nara Petrovič Naše blatno jezero (in Slovenian, probably influenced me to start walking barefoot and inspired the beginning of this article).
- Selling and giving away stuff, not buying anything new, but buying used.
- Reading essays by Charles Eisenstein: about having fuller, richer life, but not necessarily longer (very recent discovery).
- Morning routine, yoga in the morning, high quality food (less meat and processed food, more veg-based food), doing more essential things myself (like cooking and fixing stuff instead of buying new).
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