So friends- you may have noticed a wee sub plot on this blog over the past few years- all the veg growing and the chickens pecking and the desire to live more simply…
There is a lot around on the old t’internet about downshifting. Everyone is doing it, it seems- or rather everyone is talking about doing it.
And to be fair- not everyone is able to downshift really- because even being able to consider the possibility of downshifting rather depends on a degree of consumption and employment that is already a position of privilege- another of those middle class fantasies ever since the glorious Felicity Kendal in The Good Life-
Downshifting is an idea that has perhaps never been so relevant in the shadow of the Credit Crunch, and in an increasing awareness that our way of life in the rich west is not sustainable, equitable or morally justifiable. It is dependent on greed for ever more pointless gadgets.
Talking of gadgets, William is sat next to me watching ‘The Gadget Show‘ and it is making me feel slightly ill. A review of the latest i-phone- which is a bit like gadget porn. A totally pointless test to see whether the i-phone could post something on twitter faster than some less sexy piece of plastic.
To be honest, even though we do not live a profligate lifestyle, I too like stuff. I notice that Oliver James is speaking at Greenbelt this year- author of the book Affluenza, defined like this-
- affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more. (de Graaf )
- affluenza, n. 1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic ofstress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by the pursuit of the American Dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth. (PBS )
But for all my talk- I have been a wage slave for all my adult life. 20 years working for local governments as a social worker- climbing up the slimy pole into management- which comes with scant extra financial reward as the difference between a main grade social worker and my current post as area manager.
Making a decision to move away and do something different has been a subject of conversation in our house for years. But then there is a mortgage, growing children, security, role and purpose… all sorts of reasons for inertia.
However- it could well be that the decision will be made for me- or at very least an opportunity will be given to me for me to make some radical decisions… because of the regular scourge of all people who work for local authorities- euphemistically called ‘reorganisation’- or this time round, I heard a new phrase which still makes my eyebrows go sky wards- delayering.
(I kid you not- delayering. Who makes this stuff up?)
I had an exchange of e-mails with an old friend yesterday. He has made some brave decisions over recent years- moving from a high flying career in business through to working as a dog trainer, and now a bicycle engineer. He and his wife have now bought some land with a view to growing their own food and keeping- you’ve guessed it- chickens!
He sent me a great list of things that he thought were important for any of us aiming to live a simpler, more sustainable life-
“I think there are practical steps to take in ‘disconnecting from the matrix’.
First I would get rid of all debt if at all possible. Could you carry on work, reduce your spending and overpay your mortgage and clear it or reduce it drastically? This might take 5 years or so?
Second, make your house as energy efficient as possible. No draughts and insulate, insulate, insulate – heating bills WILL go up and STAY up!
Third, grow more of your own food. Food prices will go up as the cost of oil rises. The added benefit is you will eat healthier.
Fourth, only buy things you really need or will give you great LASTING pleasure. No point wasting money on things that won’t get used.
Fifth, be part of a vibrant LOCAL community that can care for each other, barter and trade goods and services with each other. I’ll give you 5 eggs for 2 lettuce for example.
Also, stay fit and healthy as the NHS won’t be around in its present form!
Here endeth the lesson for today!”
Not sure I fully agree with him in relation to the NHS, but the rest makes good sense.
Watch this space friends- I have decided to let go, and let things unfold- being prepared to make some risky leaps as and when it feels right.
It is time to follow the Spirit into some more adventures…