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Downshifting - Worth a Try

Today was one of those days that demonstrate the attraction of ‘Downshifting’ away from the digital insanity of the 21st century.

My own day, and I realise how lucky I am, started with an early breakfast call with Microsoft, one of my clients, to project plan some research for next month. Just after this, I had another call from a friend I’m flying down to look at some property here next week and he asked me if I could provide him with some aerial photographs.

No problem, so over to Maypole to borrow Bob, a Cessna 172 and his digital camera and a pleasant morning spent over the Kent countryside, finishing off at lunchtime with a series of mid-air shots of another pilot, Chris in his ‘Sopwith Camel’ over Herne Bay. Actually it’s a Skybolt.

By the time we land and brew-up some tea, there’s six pilots enjoying the sunshine outside the club house an almost Battle of Britain like scene, all agreeing that quality of life and a beaten-up aircraft of your own, beats a six figure salary and an office in London any day.

I’m wondering what was going through my own mind with almost twenty years of commuting fifty-five miles a day. It reminds me of the quote from the great John Cleese as the neurotic Hotelier, Basil Fawlty. “What was that mate? “That was your life”.

Most of us aren’t lucky enough or even brave enough to think of letting go of our place in the 21st century rat race, even partially in a society saddled by a trillion pounds worth of consumer debt and mortgages that may take several lifetimes to pay off.

My advice, for what it’s worth, is that quality of life counts more than satisfying an addiction to consumer goods and the promise of a bigger salary. Like one of my fellow pilots, being able to announce, “I’m going to the Portugal this weekend”, in the little two-seater he built himself, is worth far more than owning the most expensive BMW that will spend most of its existence stuck on the M25, losing its value.

We all need to learn to slow down and use technology as a tool which contributes to a greater quality of life and personal experience, and not as a means of more efficient enslavement, to government, business or the demands of everyday life, which for many appears increasingly pointless and without purpose or a sense of fulfilment.


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