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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Exiting the Rat Race

by Gavin @ The Greening of Gavin

Back a few years ago, I remember thinking many times that something was missing in my life. I could never put my finger on what it was, and strived for answers. I would buy the latest consumer and electronic goods, upgrade my PC yearly to a faster model, buy the latest PC games to spend endless hours of my free time on. I worked hard and long in my quest to earn more money so that I could afford more material possessions in the vain hope that I would find satisfaction and fulfilment.

It didn't work like many other people stuck in the rat race, and due to my inaction and consumeristic habits, it was as good as it gets. No-one wants to be unfulfilled in life, but sadly many of us are still looking for that "something" that is missing. Credit card balances were through the roof, and I was living a lifestyle beyond my means.

I also found it hard to unwind each day, and realised that my head was swimming with so much stuff that my mind raced a fair bit of the time. I wasn't in touch with my surroundings and sometimes out of tune with the wonderful people I shared my life with, and I certainly was not in tune with the plight of the planet. I was blissfully unaware of my impact on it and to the ecosystems that exist upon it. I had drifted on the tide of a life half lived for far too long.

What a sorry state of affairs! I had an inkling of what might be wrong, so Kim and I started to attend meditation classes so that we could both learn to relax. I really enjoyed the experience, and things began to change. After a meditation session, I felt connected to my inner self in a way I hadn't experienced in my life. That was about three years ago and I felt great.

And then came the day that I went to the cinema to watch a free movie provided by work, and it changed my life. It was as if I awoke from a horrible dream, and if you read some of my personal blog, you will know the rest of the actions I have taken to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

All the actions aside, I think I have rarely described the emotions and personal changed that have taken place with in me. Firstly, I have taken a step back, and had a really hard look at myself and the way I lived before my epiphany. I managed to come to grips with who I was, and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I found that by looking within, rather than searching for answers in the outside world, I found that I was already a whole person and that my life was complete. I found that a simple life had meaning, and it was not about blatant consumerism that the TV blasts at us, day in, day out. In fact, I found myself watching less and less TV, and began the research and learning that ultimately helped my understanding the climate change problem, peak oil, and the ways I could reduce my carbon footprint.

At first my family thought I had lost the plot, but found that their husband and father began to talk about more interesting things, and made them think about things that challenged their own understanding of how our civilisation works. I had another purpose other than the daily grind of work. Not only did I feel fully connected to my family, which brought me great joy, I began to feel connected to the Earth, through my gardening endeavours. I may have said this before, but growing your own food is one of the most uplifting and spiritual things I have ever done, and certainly one of the most rewarding. All of the things that my family and I have done over the last three years have brought us closer together, and we spend more meaningful time together. I now stress less about work, and am more relaxed at home, but more active. I have also lost 10 kg in the process and now know that by looking at my inner self, I changed who I was for the better.

Nowadays, we rarely go out anywhere due to Kim not being very mobile, but we have a fuller lifestyle. We have comfort in knowing that we produce our own solar electricity and hot water, drive less, and have reduced our consumption across the board. We make things together, we grow food together, we cook together, and most of all we have fun together, which is really the simple home truth that people caught in the rat race just don't realise. Living simply, and honesty, like our parents and grandparents, is what a full life was, and still is, all about.

It makes me sad some days, when I realise that it took me 42 years to get it, but my goodness, I am making up for it now. I still work to pay off the house, and actually enjoy work without the stress, and find it a great way to spread the green and simple word. I stopped sweating the small stuff. We are paying off the house and our other debts very quickly, so we should be debt free in about seven years time (maybe a little longer). We don't live in a McMansion (never did anyway), and now live within our means. Credit card debt is gone, with the nasty consumerism troll now living at the bottom of the compost heap like the rotting matter it is.

It feels great to be alive, and to have a goal as big as the planet for the rest of my time on it is more than I could have ever expected. I have found the "something" that I was missing, because it was inside of me all along.

I just didn't know it at the time!

8 comments:

Kimmie said...

Getting off the chaotic merry go round and achieving balance and harmony with self and with ones family - I would swap gadgets for chooks any day :]

Fabulous read and love your blog!

Kimmie

Jeremy said...

This post hit my current mindset spot on. I am trying like crazy to find a way out of the rat race, out of all its complications and distractions, out of its obstacles and shackles. I'll get there. One day.

Karen said...

great post, so inspiring! thank you for sharing.

Margaret's Ramblings said...

And the greatest thing you have done Gavin is to inspire so many around the world with your enthusiasm and tales of your progress. Keep up the good work. I have learnt so much from you.

Margaret

Tammy James said...

A really inspiring, thought provoking post Gavin. Thanks for sharing these personal insights with us.

Gavin said...

Thanks everyone for you comments. All I try and do is to lead by example in the hope that my kids will follow in my footsteps.

Gav

Darren (Green Change) said...

I totally understand where you are coming from with this, Gav.

Right now, we're trying to decide whether it's worth it to go into more debt in order to move to a house on an acre, where we can do so much more to grow our own and live more sustainably. It advances our goals, but erodes our financial position. Tough one :-).

Still, it's better than going into debt to buy a stupid big sports car!

Joanne said...

Great personal insights here. Its good to know that there are men out there who 'get it' too. So many of the people (at least the blogging people) living simply are women. Some of us are still waiting for our other half to see the light. Its a personal thing, isn't it and you can't make another person change. It has to come from within- we can only hope to inspire and lead by example.