This particular question popped into my head last night and has refused to leave until I have given it some attention; mulled it over for a bit.
Whither shall I wander? Where will I go?
Is it my subconscious trying to tell me I need a holiday? I don’t think so. Living this life we’ve created here means I don’t crave an escape. I feel extremely content being right where I am, cooking, gardening, making, pottering about doing the work that I do, hanging out with my children, the dog and the chooks and making an occasional trek to one of the local beaches.
That’s not to say that we should never go anywhere or limit our exposure to new experiences. Exploring new places and other ways of living enriches our lives and expands our understanding of ourselves and the nature of being human. It’s quite a different kettle of fish to feeling that desperate need to escape from the stresses of an overly-busy and out of balance lifestyle by blowing a month’s pay (or the equivalent on a credit card) on a week at a holiday resort, only to head back to work and those same stresses as the cycle continues. What if you could break that cycle? What life would you choose? How could you build a lifestyle that you wouldn’t want to escape from?
Is your first thought something like “Oh I couldn’t do that! I have a mortgage/ kid’s school fees/ credit card/ bills, bills and more bills.” Do you feel a slight sense of panic? Can you picture that life but don’t think you could ever achieve it? Perhaps just creating that picture is a challenge in itself.
Most of us are raised not only to accept, but to expect the status quo. Get an education, find a job, maybe travel a bit, buy a car, meet someone nice, buy a house with a hefty mortgage, buy a better car, have children, buy a bigger car, work more to pay off mortgage and raise children and run the big car, maybe a holiday here and there and more work, work, work. Then retire, travel, move to a retirement village and hope for a gentle exit from this world.
Essentially, we are raised to chase the dollar at the expense of our own well-being, buy cheap, mass-produced, fast fashion at the expense of the well-being of others and the earth and to eat chemical, sugar and fat-laden foods at the expense of our health, while being told that it’s good for the economy.
When you begin to question the status quo though, things begin to shift. Changes begin to happen. And it might just be a question about one particular choice that you make, that sets the dominoes falling.
A question such as “I wonder what life is like for the people in the factories where my clothes are made?” or “I wonder what is in the packaged food that I eat and how does my body assimilate that?” Or even “When I buy stuff from a big chain store or multi-national, on-line entity, where does the profit end up and how does it impact my local community when I stop supporting locally owned and run businesses?” Or “What sort of industries do my banks, investment and superannuation funds invest my money in to gain a profit and are those industries that I would want to support?” Or simply, “I wonder why the juice I bought today is imported, when we have fruit orchards not that far away from where I live?”
I could go on like this for ages, telling you the questions I’ve pondered over the years. But you don’t want to sit here reading my questions. You have your own to ask. Question it all and, if you don’t like the answers, then make the changes so that next time you ask those questions, you will be happy with the answers.
All of this has wandered off a bit from the original point about living a life you don’t want to escape from. Or has it? It seems to me that, as we ask those sorts of questions and respond by making the changes we need to, we gradually create a new reality for ourselves that is more aware, more connected and more responsible. And all of that eventually leads us to a life we’re happy to embrace, not run away from.
As for the question of ‘Whither shall I wander?’, I believe it was prompting my mind to wander away a little from the rather structured and detailed admin jobs I’ve been focused on this past couple of weeks, preparing workshops, running a fruit tree bulk buy for our local community and helping to facilitate a new Transitions Street group in my area. My mind has enjoyed the journey very much!
Now it’s time for a cup of tea so I’ll leave you to get on with asking questions of your own.
Feel free to post them in the comments so they can inspire someone else too!