Are we set up to create unsustainable lives?
Are we set up to create unsustainable lives? What do I mean by this exactly? My background is that I’m from the UK and I’m in my 30s. I feel like a large part of my life the messages I’ve been fed are the following:
Get good grades, get a university degree, find a job, earn lots of money, buy a house, buy a car, renovate said house, fill it with lots of nice stuff, take some holidays abroad, probably buy a new car because that other ones looking out of date, get a job promotion, sell that house to make money, buy another house, start renovating that house, have some babies, and so on…
Now here I am, writing from a car park in France, having given up all that. I “turned my back” on all that. We gave it all up so that we could spend more time together as a family. Albeit, we did it in quite an extreme form so we’re altogether 24/7. Perhaps we could have chosen a ‘softer’ version of this, but for us at the time this seemed like the only way. To completely break ties with our ‘old life’ and known way of living.
The cost of sustaining our old life
Along this (so far) 3 month journey I’ve had many moments of feeling sad for what I gave up and left behind. I’ve regretted stuff. And I get to dreaming about ‘going back’. Then I realise how hard that actually feels for us – the going back part. Not just emotionally, but practically. At the moment we are living off my income, which isn’t huge, but fine for life on the road – just. Unless Nick got a 9-5 job I’m not sure how we’d live in England.
Other things I dream about, or in fact wash over me at seemingly random times, are everyday moments from our old life. They are like a pang in my heart, they sort of hit me and a wave of emotions floods my body. They are things such as…drinking hot chocolate at a local cafe, walking through our National Trust park, sitting in my friends living room while our children play, visiting Ikea (yes that really was one!).
Gosh how badly I want to be right back there as these waves of memories hit me. Then my brain starts thinking and planning how we could get back to those places. That’s when I’m all to aware of this situation we’re in, where to return to many aspects of that lifestyle (many that involve spending money) Nick would need to go back to a 9-5 job.
Rethinking how we live
It is this thought process that got me asking – are we set up to create unsustainable lives? Unsustainable, because they require us to work 5 days a week to maintain a lifestyle that doesn’t prioritise time together as a family. Unsustainable, because it seems you always need to earn more, never less. Unsustainable, because you always need to work more to achieve more, not enjoy work more.
How do we find a new way forward? What do we sacrifice? Right now, if it was solely my choice, would I sacrifice Nick’s time with us so I could go back to that ‘cushy’ lifestyle? I’m afraid that I might. Right now, at least.
Yes, I am completely responsible for my own life and the choices I’ve made. But I do think the society and culture in which we grow up in plays a part in shaping our lives. Now I feel I must rethink how to live in a way that goes against what “mainstream” society tells us we should want. In England this is also made trickier by ridiculous house and land prices.
Before I sign off this post sounding truly doom and gloom, I want to put out a request. Which is this: If anyone reading this has found a way to live on less, with more time together as a family, please can you get in touch or leave a comment to share how you did this, what your daily life looks like, etc. I would so appreciate some insight from others who have already done this.
These photos were taken at our favourite Magical Mountain Camping in Northeastern Italy.