Traveling helps to put things into perspective. Before you leave on your #travels, you can never be too sure how this will play out in your life. It's a bit like a roulette wheel. The one thing for sure is though, that once you leave you cannot unlearn what you learn about yourself and your life and that will no doubt have an impact of some kind on your future and the decisions you make. One would hope the impact would always be for the better, but it doesn't always mean it's going to be easy. Often making change as a result of new found perspective can be difficult, painful and hard work.
Returning from four months traveling has meant exactly that. A change of perspective. A new set of eyes with which to look at the same tired old life. And sadly, upon returning from our travels, looking at our life has been hurting all of our eyes quite a bit. This is not a reflection on the people that surround us, merely a reflection on our own personal circumstances and our resistance to what modern city life in Australia looks and feels like.
Our travels to #Asia have reminded us that #happiness does not come from possessions. Those we met with next to nothing seemed to exude a sense of peace and ease that comes with a freedom from stuff and possessions.
Their cultural celebration and respect for all levels of family reminds us how important it is to invest in those who create that structure and support network, whether it be blood relatives or friends who become family. From babies whose feet rarely touch the ground till their first birthday through to the elderly who are loved and cared for by the extended family unit, a sense of safety and belonging comes from community, a concept in our modern world which seems increasingly elusive. Hence the addiction of so many to create a desperately sought sense of community in places like Facebook.
Our European travels remind us of the idea that food is love and taking the time to prepare and share a meal and stop to appreciate each other in the process is quickly becoming a thing of the past. It is so sad that in our modern ways, we have lost the art of the simple act of breaking bread together. We have prioritised our lives away from fresh food harvesting and preparation to replace it with microwave meals on the run. The simple joy and connection of food shared and celebrated together is a now considered a luxury. We are collectively allowing this to happen. Not only are our kids completely disconnected from the land and the true source of the food they eat, they are retching at the smell and look of the rarity of #healthy food in other kids lunch boxes. Spending time traveling has helped our kids to realise the true source of their foods and to truly question what and how much they eat.
The biggest stumbling block for me though has been the pace of life we have had to return to. Not just ours but of our community in general. That familiar feeling of never having enough hours in the day to do the things that really make life fulfilling. Not being able to connect with others in a considered and thoughtful way but rather a slap dash, quick I need to get this sentence out kind of way. Feeling that ‘not enough time’ rage seep out of the drivers whose behaviour on the roads screams “I am the most important person here, so get the hell out of my way”.
Looking down the barrel of our next twelve months and realising that to get back on this hamster wheel will surely gobble us all up at some stage. We will all reluctantly have to leave behind the close bond we have developed as a family and resume the “ships in the night” patterns that an over scheduled, tiring and expensively busy modern life seems to entail.
With this fresh perspective, comes a sense of astonishment now that we can see how far away from our original simple ideal of life we have strayed. How caught up in the dis-ease of busyness we had all become. So to relieve that crushing reluctance to get back on that treadmill, we needed to un-busy ourselves as best we can. But how do you address this issue of not wanting to participate, without going into a depression and hiding from the world. Or without completely avoiding the reality of the responsibilities that we have taken on? It is different for everyone I am sure, but our recipe so far is to try to simplify things. Take the pressure off everything starting with our finances. Lowering our outgoings and curbing our spending. Limiting extra curricular activities for all of us. And creating space and time.
The biggest expenses for us are our rent and food costs. Reducing our rent is paramount in our drive to simplify. House price affordability is the biggest stress we face and upon returning from travel, we have realised that the location we left is no longer realistically affordable for us. We cannot afford to buy and right now it also seems we cannot afford to rent either without compromising too much and getting back on that hamster wheel. We could pretend, stick our heads in the sand and not face reality or we can be brutally honest with ourselves and make the adjustments necessary.
So call us crazy or idealists or whatever, but it’s off to the #country in search of the dream of actually making ends meet. Returning to the basics of growing some of our own food. Having pantry space to store our bulk whole foods. Being able to afford to buy a house and have some pets and to begin to be honest with ourselves about living within our means. A smaller school, a smaller community and a smaller schedule. But hopefully a bigger more expansive life. We could be kidding ourselves but we are going to have a go.
The current way of life we as a modern society have forged for ourselves has come at an an enormous cost to our well being. Most importantly it causes us to get so caught up in stuff, we forget that each of our lives is important and has the potential for great meaning and opportunity. Our life belongs to us. Not our jobs or our family, the kids schools, the opinions of others, or the judgements of society. It is our life and it would be a terrible waste to let it slip by without truly examining what we want to squeeze out of it and to simply make the changes and go for it. We want to own our choices and really step towards a healthier happier and more considered existence. A life filled with the things we all love. And hopefully inspire others to do the same.
We are all free to think and act as we choose. Living a life filled with meaning and connection is something very worthwhile in our books and so we are not going to wait for the conditions to be right or for the opportunity to arise. That may never happen. We are going to grab life by the horns and create those opportunities now. We acknowledge that we cannot have it all and although that means we have to face some sacrifice and sadness as we say goodbye to some special people, we are inspired and enthusiastic to make some really positive changes. Some friendships may be lost. Other friendships will strengthen as their value will only become truly apparent when the tyranny of distance causes meaning to take precedence over convenience.
We hope this honest and uncomfortable appraisal of our life post #travel will inspire others to take a look at the type of life they are cultivating for themselves and their families. We know plenty of people who are managing okay to forge #happiness for themselves under their current circumstances and we are happy for them. But for now we can’t and we need to be honest with ourselves. We are going to write a list of the things we truly want to be present in our lives and all of the things we each love and we are going to go and get them. We want to be able to experience the simple #blessings of a life well lived and to return as much as possible to realising that it is “time” we should be coveting and creating. Time to connect, time to reflect and time to stop and smell the flowers.
Watch this space.