A small piece of the picture

I finally managed to deactivate my Facebook account last week. I considered deleting my Facebook account entirely because I know I should, but I just couldn’t bring myself to yet. Maybe later.

Anyone who is here following me from Facebook, thank you. I appreciate that you’ve found me interesting enough to invest in reading my thoughts. It means a lot to me.

Since I left, I have definitely found myself with a bit more inner peace. Nothing earth-shattering or anything, but it has been nice. As a bonus, when I find myself reaching for my phone to scroll, I’ve replaced that habit with reading ebooks on my phone. In the last few days, I’ve finished three chapters of Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle.

It’s been a really great read, honestly. While the book is written for women, it’s really written for people who have been socialized as caregivers so it feels very relevant to me as well. After reading these first three chapters, I feel like I’ve already been able to process some of my pre-existing stress a lot better than I have been able to in the past.

A desire to live a different life

I’ve been thinking for a very long time about the life that I want to be living. I’ve gone through more than a dozen iterations but it is really only in the last few years that I feel like I’ve really started to zero in on the life that I want to be living.

I want to live a slow life, one that is full of time to observe and have thoughtful contemplation. Moving quickly can often mean moving hastily and it is in these spaces that mistakes occur. I want to have the time to think through my actions and live with intention.

I want to live in close harmony with nature, respecting the world around me. Humans are as much a part of nature as anything else and we should behave as such. To imagine ourselves as somehow separate and better than nature is nothing but blind hubris. We have so much to learn from the world around us if we are able to watch and listen.

I want to live a life centered on the home, building up my local environment so that I am not always so hungry to roam. While I love to travel, I do know that travel is deeply impactful to the environment. In order to reduce that impact, I want to cultivate the space where I spend most of my time with intention so that my life is not only tolerable but explicitly a joy to live.

I want to learn to live a life where most of what I consume and produce stays local to reduce the amount of unintended consequences to my actions. The further away you are from the things you consume, the more opportunities there are for exploitation and waste. If I can make things myself from things that I grow, that’s at least one way that I can reduce the total number of unintended consequences that my life has.

I want to live a life that values collaboration over competition. While competition can have its place, I have found that it so easily turns toxic and leads to more suffering in life. I would rather build something collaboratively with other people in the spirit of believing that we all can and should make it.

I want to live a life unencumbered by debt. I mean this financially but in other ways as well. It is important for me to be able to walk away from situations that are bad for me and it is equally important to me that others are capable of doing the same. Everyone should have the opportunity to start over in some way.

I’ve been thinking about these things a lot lately as the pandemic has made clear how disinterested society at large seems to be in making these goals possible. We are so steeped in a particular way of life that we punish people who wish to live a simpler, more intentional life. Heaven forbid you’re disabled or marginalized in one way or another and want to live more simply. The requirements to stay alive are enough to make it difficult to do anything but survive.

An experiment to live a better life

I don’t know what it would take to be able to live the life that I want to live. In this society, it would take a hell of a lot of privilege to have that much freedom. Quite ironic in the Land of the Free if I say so myself. You need resources to be able to have a space that you’re allowed to exist in, you need to have the time and access to develop the skills you need, and you need to have a community because it’s impossible to do these things alone.

I am lucky enough to be more privileged than most in this way. I am fortunate enough to have a well-paying tech job that allows me to work from home and pursue my interest in my free time. While it is not my dream job by any measure as I really don’t want to give a third of my life to any capitalistic venture to build nebulous “value” for shareholders, it is otherwise pretty perfect. I have employers who value me and care about my happiness which is extremely rare in my experience.

Community is something that I struggle with though. I’m not going to lie, even though I’ve had many friends, I also struggle with having and maintaining friendships. I am very introverted and find myself exhausted much of the time these days making it really hard to engage with others. Community isn’t optional though – it’s extremely necessary. We don’t need a massive community a simple life but the phrase “it takes a village” isn’t just a phrase. Skill specialization is important for a life of abundance.

There have been many experiments to create this sort of life. I am by far not the first person to have these thoughts and feelings nor will I be the last. Some people has created their own homesteading communities, others have invested in intentional communities. Stories of success are few and far between and the failures are all often tales of narcissism, hubris, control, and massive exploitation. It is enough to make me hesitant to travel down those neatly established paths.

I suppose that this is where the experimentation comes in. I want to create something different from what I know of the past and I don’t know where to go from here – at least not the whole picture. If you’re also interested in these goals, I need your help. I want to see your part of the picture as well. Maybe if we can combine all of our pieces, we can see our way to a better world.

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