As promised, this time I’ll think out loud how the world would look, did everyone choose to follow a very similar lifestyle to the one we used to live prior to our homesteading.
The division between “previous life” and present life is obviously not a strict line, not the well defined date of May 14th, 2006 when we could finally take over custody of the 5.25 hectare piece of nature we came to call Echo Tanya, our place to live.
That past extends well into the much more recent past and on, into the present. Until just a couple of months ago it was in our closet, too – a skeleton in form of everyday conventional, in some instances name-brand clothes, covering our bodies until we can make new ones and responsibly get rid of the old. It’s on our bookshelves. Except for these very bookshelves custom made for us and the bed we sleep in that was retrofitted from a bunk bed built by us, basically all of our (truth be told few) furniture pieces originate from this past era – let’s just call it the low consciousness times.
I am not going to bash ourselves for the way we used to live. After all that time period offered us a lot of lessons, some pretty tough ones, too, that ultimately made us think hard and ever more complexly of a different life.
These were the times of starting to dream big, getting the first exposures to what entrepreneurship may mean, of discovering the benefits of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and ultimately learning to restructure our priorities from frivolous spending over to mindful organics.
These folks still believe that pursuing academics, so getting a college degree is the key to success in life.
Naive them: they are easily lured into student loan contracts not even realizing what hell comes of it! Typically long years, if not decades of working jobs basically just to be able to pay their student loan bills, as rule-law abiding decent citizens ought to after signing the promissory note(s). Get out of college and start the real life with great hopes and even greater debt.
Oh, and let me tell you, they go to college by car! The second one in the family, bought using credit history based loan – just another bill…
Of course they a use credit card and obviously they have more than one – it’s almost like looking in odd mirrors for self worth.
Little spending here, little over there, but all well justified, right? And the next thing they realize is that in just three-four years they exhausted their liquidity and almost can’t help but file for bankruptcy.
They sure work hard – hands down –, but they take almost any job to make ends meet and to feel busy.
Since these people happen to be outdoorsy, many a weekend they strap up their “goretex boots”, fill their pink and blue “nalgene bottles”, jump in their car and off they go on close-by or more distant scenic hikes (their cars parked right at the bottom of the trails). On occasion they might even buy inner tubes – I mean the real big kind. Too bad those stinky synthetic rubber monsters are only used once before given away.
For their vacation trip they do use public transportation, but they often fly and are constantly on the look-out for cheapness in airfare. No, they can’t afford carbon neutral deals – not yet, anyway. Perhaps in the more distant future.
But when the local power provider offers them renewable energy support packages, they are proudly investing in one of the low-end green electricity surcharge deals – how cool! After all, one of these guys is still working for minimum wage, wearing the uniform of a fast-food restaurant chain.
They do cook for themselves, but they frequently indulge in restaurant cooking, too. They might still work for a fast-food restaurant, but when they go out, they do it in style. At least that’s what they constantly expect to get for their money paid, but almost always end up being frustrated with the oversized mediocre meals and the services that are much worse yet. These folks eventually get a glimpse of what quality restaurant service means, somewhere abroad, perhaps in Rome, only to become even more intolerant of being handled not like guests, but like just another customer to bus off the table as soon as possible, making it ready for the next folks in the long waiting line.
Violated in their human dignity, privacy over and over when they go shopping, sooner or later it all adds up in a frustration with business as usual. Why is that even though they are looking for quality products (quality in name-brand conventional sense, not being aware yet of the controversy of cotton growing), they are repeatedly dissatisfied? Good thing one of them finds her way around in malls pretty easily (skill learned in early childhood already), because otherwise they find it damn tiring to go to a mall. They cut their trips shorter and shorter and space them further and further apart.
They learn to spend more quality time at different cafés, a short drive away, reading and sipping the black (really) tall coffees or one of the many artificial flavored lattes of one of the many corporate roasters.
At home they pick up on drinking proportionately more and more organic coffee, purchased in bulk, first from mainstream retailers’ organic aisles, later from more dedicated, although not fully trustworthy organic shops.
They really enjoy renting foreign movies at the town’s hip(pie) video rental having a good international selection. When possible, they visit the international film festival organized in the town annually. In short, they are interested in and open towards the rest of the world.
They also like to people-watch in parks, public places, growing their sense of criticism and self-reflection. Consciousness is budding in their hearts and minds while their marriage is maturing like good wines do.
They also spend at least some good couple years in business for themselves, in particular the one of them, who feels more readiness to jump into being self-employed while the other, say, hassles to finish his university studies. They both learn a lot about responsibility, dependability, human weaknesses and to stand up for their rights. Both having graduated from universities, they did learn a lot there too, however not so much from the school, but about school as business.
Now these curious souls are ready to invest their boundless energies – because they do have a great momentum build-up – in something entirely new, perhaps in an environment entirely foreign to them both. They are ready for challenge! They get rid of half of what they own, box up the rest and leave – for better, for good.