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In this episode, Thomas Budge asks the awkward questions you would like to ask, he pokes holes in rigid belief systems, and challenges the way the world taught us to think. The aim is to stimulate debate and encourage lateral thinking, so it's okay for this podcast to make you feel uncomfortable.

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Briefly speaking…

None of us asked to be here. Nobody offered us a choice over our gender, race, body type, looks, upbringing, preferences, idiosyncrasies and inherent skills, yet here we are whether we like it or not. So, the million-dollar question is, What the hell do we do with this strange and awkward thing called life?

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Not one of us have asked to be here.

Natural reproductive urges foisted life upon us all.

We had no say over any part of this process — so here we are, whether we like it or not.

Yeah, I know that you may argue that some miniscule, 21 gramme non-physical part of me — if you wish, let us call it soul — had some foreordained, grandiose plan, and took upon itself this embodiment for some profound purpose, an ancient commitment to itself that is to me today obscure, unfathomable and uncertain.

I reach the 71-year-old milestone today. What a blessing. It comes with loads of curiosity, a little anxiety and a lot of ambition.

As a kid, I saw a 71-year-old as being old, incredibly old, "ancient".

That younger Thom fretted that his parents and grandparents would one day die. It was a gut-wrenching, sickening fear which he could not set aside. The only control he had over this awful outcome was to avoid engaging with it — to bury it somewhere in the dark dungeons of his subconsciousness, where he had stashed so many other things upon which he could not look.

Purpose, according to evolution, is to act as a conduit between the hereditary material of our ancestors and having to pass this genetic blueprint on to our offspring. Young Thom failed his biological function by not having had any children. He fretted over this. He and his cousin Beresford were the last remaining Budges on this branch of their family tree. Beresford produced two girls. Thomas produced no children. This part of the Budge ancestry now faces certain extinction, and the unspoken implication was that Thomas had failed not only himself but also this part of the Budge lineage.

Family knew what it wanted from him: More family, new growth on the established branches of an ancient tree; Society knew what it wanted from him: Compliance, integration and a contribution toward the common cause; Economics knew what it wanted from him: Money and productive effort; and Religion knew what it wanted from him: Devotion, unquestioning loyalty and subservience.

From the start of his career through until the time of his retirement, his existence piqued the interest of family, society, economics and religion. Like eight billion others on this planet, he played the global game, feeding into the insatiable wants and needs of others, which are the powerhouse that keeps the wheels of this modern world in motion.

In my post-retirement world, the world of economics is only interested in me as long as I still have disposable cash; religion extends its sticky tentacles with suckers that grope for the smallest signs of residual fear around my redundancy, death and qualification for a potentially acceptable hereafter; and as for society, and dare I add family at large, the older I get, the greater the burden I potentially place upon them and the faster their interest in me wanes.

So here I am on the other end of the timeline. I have had no choice in how I got given life. I have had no choice over my gender, my race, my body type, my looks, my upbringing, my preferences, my idiosyncrasies and my inherent skills, yet here I am whether I like it or not.

On the other hand, how I got through life and achieved what I could, has been entirely of my own doing.

In the eyes of my biological family, society and religion, I have failed dismally by having truncated my ancestral lineage, and by not having fitted the cast of conformity to which many believe I ought to have surrendered. The world of economics fast sees me as a growing liability, a drain on others' financial resources, should I ever out-survive my own means.

Conversely, in the eyes of many, I have succeeded admirably, yet it still is an uncanny conundrum as to why one is often better known for one's failures than for one's successes.

Now that I have hair growing out of my ears and nostrils, now that my eyebrows are like unruly children, my six-pack packed up and went leaving my naval looking something akin to a whiskery, toothless grin, and now that I have other parts of this sagging frame I would rather avoid, I find that life is still an amazingly tenacious thing. It holds onto every ounce of strength it has, deeply unwilling to surrender its last vestige of power that separates the orderliness of life from the chaos of entropy.

The ample amount of ancient Viking blood coursing through me, has blessed me with excellent heath and clarity of thought, which are again things I did not order but for which I am eternally grateful.

In short, I feel that I still have ample runway in front of me before needing to ascend on my final departing flight into the clouds, and that raises within me the million-dollar question, Between now and then, what the hell do I do with this strange and awkward thing called life?

While I did not ask for life, I have it.

While I had no say over my upbringing, here I am and what you see is what you get, the byproduct of my own doing.

Nobody is obliged to care for me or to look after me — these are my responsibilities.

In time, the world shall have forgotten me.

My challenge to self is to stay relevant, to be self-sufficient, to always have something of me to offer to others, to live with grace, to learn to accept what is, to inspire and tutor protégés, to have a sense of humour — yeah, to always have a sense of humour.

As Wavey Gravy says (he's real, look him up on the internet), Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don't have a sense of humor it just isn't funny anymore.

So, to hell with unnecessary conformity, to hell with having to play the game for others' sake.

I am out to have some fun!



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