I think that contentment with your lot is an entirely underrated concept. I decided to take it from concept mode and apply it to my real life. No longer is contentment shelved with the occasional mental dalliance with Brad Pitt or George Clooney, but it’s out here in the open being given a long overdue airing. I think that my much mulled over purchase of Brunhilda our enormous wood burning stove has had something to do with this. Since we moved to Serendipity Farm we have been choosing to live more frugally and more simply. It’s not of necessity and is more to do with making a conscious choice to live with less. We had an opportunity to totally change our lives and we decided to go with it. Sometimes you can’t afford to just carry on regardless and this was one of those times, however our road less travelled is a pilgrimage to understanding more about who we are and where we fit into this unusual landscape we call life. I didn’t realise that something as fundamental as food, warmth and the early morning predawn sight of a firebox full of flames would give me so much satisfaction. Aside from the flames I can now cook whatever I want pretty much whenever I want. I can cook a cake in one oven, a meal in another and be defrosting something in the coolest oven whilst proving my bread, setting my yoghurt, making breadcrumbs or dehydrating (fruit, veggies AND the occasional shoe) in the other. I can set my cup of tea on one of her covers and it will stay hot for as long as it sits there. I can boil a kettle of cold water in a few moments and it will sit on its own little rectangle of warmth ready to be reactivated, bubbling and singing its heart out in a moment’s notice…always a bonus when you are as addicted to tea and coffee as Steve and I are. It’s the elixir of thought in my case, and a channel of direction for Steve’s nervous energy. Just making very small changes to our lives has opened up a whole lot of possibilities. Swapping milk from a carton for home-made almond milk has given me back some choices and allowed me more control over what I am consuming. The purchase of 2 more almond trees will give me more control over my ability to continue using almond milk in my tea. The more you think about your ability to sustain your lifestyle using your own hands, a degree of thought and problem solving and what you have around you the more exciting the possibilities get.
There is so much doom and gloom around at the moment in the environmental movement. Why would anyone want to bother trying to do anything positive about changing their environmental footprint when we are hit by barrage after barrage of negative information, hopeless outcomes and doomsday prophesies that appear to take more than a small degree of delight in mankind’s ultimate demise…I choose not to listen to them. I choose to actively try to change my own personal footprint and life so that what I am doing isn’t going to make it worse and might just make it better. I have always tried to be a glass half full person. That doesn’t mean that I stick my head in the sand or never stress about anything, this is my year of living honestly and sometimes I can be positively vibrating with stress. The last few years have taught me how much stress someone can actually live with and how detrimental to your health that stress can be. I don’t want to heap unnecessary stress on top of the stuff I can’t choose and worrying about the end of the world won’t do anyone any good. I guess the environmentalists are trying to push these changes through by using a blunt approach. That’s what the Australian government are trying to do with cigarette packaging…it doesn’t work because you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink and if someone doesn’t want to change their thought processes and actions then nothing that you say or do is going to get them to. I decided long ago not to preach to people. It’s not worth it and they could care less. I just do what I can to live within the parameters of my own ethos and ideology and hopefully people can see that a simple life is more conducive to being a happy one.
I can’t stand people who jump on a cause because it might just earn them some popularity. I have made some sustained lifestyle choices and NONE of them were for the popularity points. I don’t labour the point with a vegan lifestyle because it’s what I choose to do and nothing to do with anyone else out there. I am not going to picket my friends’ houses because they choose to eat meat. Get a bit of a grip people…you end up looking like idealistic gits and most certainly don’t show anyone the benefits of living the way you choose if you are too busy trying to elevate yourself above everyone else with your trendy lifestyle choice. No tattoos for me…no shaven sides of my head…no husband with a soul patch…”How will anyone KNOW that I am vegan?”…you know what…I don’t actually CARE if anyone knows that I am vegan. I am content to just “be” vegan and know that it ticks one of my own personal happiness quotient boxes and be done with it. This segues me back to today’s meeting. I won’t be talking about it in this post because it’s in the future and I may still be ruminating over what I have heard today so you can expect a full critique along with photos on Wednesday. I can’t promise that I won’t have taken the odd surreptitious photo of the back of a felt hatters head (felt had firmly in place and most probably blocking someone behind thems view of the proceedings)…I can’t promise that I won’t have had the odd comment to make to a grandstanding felt hatter who turned up to “have their say” but who couldn’t be bothered to actually get up on stage and put the effort in to attempt to show people how to do something and I can’t promise that I won’t get a bit overexcited about something that I learned. You know me well now dear constant readers and excitement is my middle name! I am really looking forwards to attending the garden visit with my friend from the witness protection program. I will be taking copious photos of Steve Solomon’s personal veggie garden along with the odd photo of my friend’s shoe. He wrote the book “Growing Vegetables South of Australia” a most detailed scientific approach to growing veggies in my local environment. Steve lives about 15 minutes away from Serendipity Farm and as such, what he is talking about is quite pertinent to my own requirements. He is also an old hippy, a hermit and is into trying to live a simple sustainable life. He is also an expat American who has developed a range of seeds for our local climate that he sells through the Exeter nursery. It will be very interesting to attend this lecture and find out what Steve does with his own garden. You can learn more about someone from their personal actions than you can from a million of their words…
The transition town lecture has me inspired. We are such a fragmented society now. Technology has given us the ability to be distanced from the earth and to purchase our wants and needs from middle men and from overseas. I am not saying that it’s not fantastic to have the range of goods and services that we have but I am saying that a fair few of them we don’t actually need and we are soon going to have to renegotiate what we can and can’t live without. I would rather have a washing machine than an I-pod. I would rather install a wind turbine than continue to watch as our electricity prices skyrocket out of all proportion to what is being delivered. We DO have choices and we can exercise our ability to head on over to where the choices fit our ethos and Transition towns fit right smack bang in the middle of my own personal utopian ideal. Our civilisation was able to exist long before anyone thought of using oil to grease the chains of capitalism and so long as we haven’t stuffed up our environment too much, we will be able to exist long into the future. I CHOOSE to see the bright side because I don’t want to live in perpetual fear and depression. Our fragmented society has done nothing for families, for the once esteemed position of the elderly and it’s a rare person who is actually content with their lot. Communities are a thing of the past apart from in Third World countries where they will feel the loss of oil somewhat less than we will. I am not talking about survivalists when I talk about Transition towns. There are always going to be people who want to succeed from the human race (usually with guns and traps and water purifiers). To be honest, I wouldn’t want to live in a post-apocalyptic world where your choice was selfishness or to eliminate the competition. That brings me back to transitions. Change is always a very difficult thing for me. I like to know what is going on and where I fit into it and as such, I tend to make sure that I am well aware of my local environment. The truth about peak oil is that change is something inevitable and the sooner we see where we fit into this change the better. I can see a lot of benefits. I see the loss of supermarket giants hold in our communities due to the skyrocketing price of fuel. That means that we will get our bakers, our butchers, and our local store on the corner back. We will lose our ability to instantly access goods from overseas, BUT we will be able to take full advantage of what is local and seasonal and we may all end up healthier for this. No more Monsanto! We will have to learn how to manage our pests naturally…no more monocrops. Far be it from fearing this, we should be learning how to grow food within our communities to sustain us locally. In other words…it would be back to the hamlets…small towns and communities that naturally formed before the rise of oil consuming machinery. It wasn’t that long ago folks…only last century people didn’t have cars and that’s only a collective blink in the history of the world. The stranglehold of capitalism based on oil has been rapidly depleting our environment of its beauty and resources to our detriment. We CAN live on after peak oil…we just need to learn how to do it and not to fear the changes. I guess transitioning can be summed up in a sentence…” Remove “ME” from its elevated position of envy and put “US” up there in sustainable lights”.
Ok, enough transitioning for me! I need to head off to the shower, pack some fruit for my lunch (it might be transition towns but I bet they still forget to cater for the vegetarians (let alone the vegans 😉 ) and take my trusty camera to see if I can’t take a few shots for you today of what this is all about. I like being a lens for learning. I guess I should probably have stayed at my studies when I was at teachers college but looking at some of the harried teachers and lecturers around me makes me believe that the world did me a favour when it removed me forcibly from a career in “sharing”. I guess you can see that I am very excited about this month and the possibilities of sustainable living and transition towns. I hope that you will stick around to read about my interpretation of what it’s all about because that’s what I am all about at this phase of my life…love me…love my transition town ;). Today it’s Kelsey, my son Stewart’s partner’s birthday. “Happy Birthday Kelsey” and welcome to our strange family! It’s my own birthday tomorrow. I will be spending the day being spoiled and cossetted by the man that I love. He is going to throw himself out on a limb and bake me a vegan cake and we are having veggie burgers and home-made chips for tea (my own personal request). I am sure that the dogs will be entirely unimpressed with our meal but take heart Steve…at least they won’t be begging from your plate tonight! Have a great weekend dear constant readers and remember that we all have choices, it’s just up to us how we decide to exercise those choices :o).