And at last to the final part of the reasoning behind the big move. It is slightly more esoteric and philosophical than queuing in traffic, but is a vital and engaging part of the process, which I hope inspires others to look at how they live, questioning what is really important.
I hope this post does not come across too judgemental. I have been a culprit of living in an unsustainable and wasteful way - for many many years - knowing something didn't feel right, but trying to buy my way out of it. So, at least for a while yet, I have no high horse to mount. But it would be nice to think, what we are doing, might give others ideas on how they could help, both themselves, society and our wonderful world (sung in a very deep voice).
The world can't take much more. And we, like ostriches, are burying our heads in the sand (do they really do that?). We see it every day on the news - somewhere having the "worst (insert horrific weather here) since records began", or the plight of some beautiful creature or other, that is on the brink of extinction.
The basic problem is that we have become arrogant about our planet. We don't see ourselves as a part of it, or at the whim of it, but the owners of it - the worst case of consumerism. This is interesting because almost all of the world's religions have a deity, of sorts, which is preached as being above us, owning us, is part of us, or to who's whim we are at the mercy of. I am not a religious person (although I am spiritual), so its odd that I see the earth (insert the name that feels comfortable - Mother, Gaia etc.) in this way.
There are, of course, the massive problems we are facing, such as Global Warming and mass extinctions, but there are also more isolated issues, like the harrowing images, of the slaughter of Dolphins, in Taiji Cove, Japan, that have recently appeared in the media.
Until we can see the whole earth as one living entity - like we do our "Gods" - having control over our destiny, interconnected, this will carry on. There has been an excellent case for this way of looking at the earth, with the Ecocide campaigns (Europe and World). They make for compelling reading and pose an interesting argument.
Don't get me wrong, I'm no eco-warrior as such. I'm a survivalist. I have the intelligence to know that if you are on a raft, in the middle of the ocean, its probably best not to set it on fire to keep warm. I am aware of the need to cultivate and manage environments and species. For us, as custodians of the planet, to make sometimes harsh decisions globally, and individually in smaller micro-environments, such as farms and smallholdings. But there is a way to bring balance to this, finding ways to work with nature, to give both us, and the plant we SHARE, more of an equal chance.
With this in mind, the best way I can think of, to 'do my bit', is to live how I feel the earth would want me to. Proving that it can be done - having not only a 'good life' (pun intended), but also a sustainable, less impactful and more thoughtful existence. Not wasting resources and energy, that the planet cannot afford. The more of us who try to do this, in some small measure, the better it will get.
The Needs Of The Few
I can't comment on the whole of human society, as it differs so much from place to place. All I can do is observe and comment on, the one I am a part of. For most of my life - although I have conformed in many ways to it - it has mostly moved further and further away from what I wish it to be. I did cover aspects of this, in Part 2 (see the section on where I live now), but to add to the issues raised there, society as a whole seems to have lost 'balance'.
It all starts with the emphasis put on educating our young. It appears to centre around indoctrinating them into becoming money-generating machines (are we sure Cyberdyne hasn't taken over without us knowing?). Its all about targets and results, with the goal being: obtain the best paid job you can.
Only recently, there has been an initiative encouraging children to learn computer coding (www.codinginschools.org) in school. I'm sure the people behind this have positive motives for advocating this, but all I can see it doing, is pushing home the point that the only way to grow and prosper is to sit in front of a screen, for eight hours a day, for the rest of your life (I only lasted 25 years but I think that still counts as 'Life', in a British court system). If my experience, of young people is anything to go by, they certainly don't need any more encouragement to utilise screens.
I want to live in a society of balance, where equal measure is given to the outdoors, treasuring the planet, and pulling together as a community - to counterbalance the above.
Its said the media is a barometer, of society as a whole - oh dear! We appear to be in a never ending cycle of celebrity culture, the dumbing down and/or sensationalising of everything and (worst of all for a life-long music fan) the 'Simon Cowelling' of music. For me music affects me, at a deep level. If I'm sad, it can lift me, if I'm confused it can guide me and if I'm thinking of moving 500 miles to a remote croft, it can inspire me.
Listening to songs by the Levellers (such as Sellout, This Garden, Elation and Too Real) or songs by Billy Bragg about honest, hard working people being oppressed by 'the man', speak to me. Songs about cribs, gold teeth and dance floors just don't have the same effect. I hope to live a life that shows society there are alternative ways to do things, in a place where you can't help but give more credence to the most important things in life. Although I won't ban Rihanna fans from visiting (they'll have to remember their umbrellas though probably), 1-Direction fans will not be tolerated. Got to draw the line somewhere!
The Needs Of The One
I hadn't heard of the word Dichotomy: "A division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.", until a few years back, whilst reading a (weird but eye-opening) self-help book called Conversations With God, by Neale Donald Walsh. And I found, as a word, it summed me up rather well.
At the time of reading I'd just turned 40. Yes, everyone had given me 'that' line. Actually what happens at 40 is that everyone starts saying 'that' line, apart from that it appeared to be rather disappointingly similar to 39. No, 'enlightenment' doesn't come at certain numbers, it comes at times when the mind comprehends something new or a window opens in your head that had been on the latch since you were born (but it's one of those new UPVC windows and someone lost the key, the day after it was installed).
The said window was that, I had, for most of my adult life, been torn between loving the planet, having ecological concerns and caring for others wellbeing; jarring with being a ravenous consumer, obsessed with gadgets and technology, selfish in many situations (such as whilst driving) and generally trying to find happiness in the wrong places. A good analogy for this is moaning at my family for not turning lights off (to save the planet), just before getting into my 3.0 litre petrol car. Bonkers, I'm sure you'll agree.
As you go through life, as a human being, you crave happiness. But many of us do tend to look for it in the wrong place... Even when it lifts up the rug and shows you where its hiding - like looking into your own baby's eyes (I've been lucky to do this with three different babies), or when a stranger does something unexpectedly kind, or finding a peaceful place on a walk in the country. Sadly, even though these things were there (in plain sight), I pursued happiness by buying a new car - selling the old (and perfectly fine) one for a big loss; going to the shop and buying the latest computer game (playing it a few times and letting dust take over before game over); or going to the fast food restaurant for a quick fix. Safe to say, for me, this wasn't, and isn't the way. Yes, you get a quick high - consumerism is akin to a drug - but it soon goes and the need comes back, greater than it was before.
I'm convinced our new life will help reduce this 'need'. I'm not planning to go cold turkey completely. It would be silly and naive to throw away useful tools, such as the internet and mobile phone; but they will be just that: 'tools', not what I live for anymore.
So, having analysed myself, and sparked by that little word, I have read many more books and been inspired by others. I have finally decided what I want to be and which of the opposing Dale's is the one to try and nurture - the Jedi, not the Sith!
The best way, I can see, to do this, and to keep doing it, is to take the huge step of living my life in a manner that fits with how I truly feel; where the temptation of buying things, to fill the void, is replaced with the satisfaction of growing my own food, using my own hands - to sculpt the wonderful croft (I have been given the opportunity to live on) - and to feel the satisfaction of true contentment.
Consumerism has been drummed into me (and us all), for so many years now, that I am sure there will still be the urge to succumb to it, but I will endeavour to ensure that it will be on ecologically sound innovations, that help us to live with nature, and our land, in harmony; not on gadgets for gadgets sake.
So, I think I've found the solution to my future happiness (to boldly go where a few have gone before). Your route will almost certainly be different. But however you decide to do it, live in a way that you feel is best. All I hope is that you stop and think, just a little, before each decision, on how it may affect you, your neighbour and the planet. And please, all of you, remember George & Gracie; they really do need our help.
Live long and prosper...