Tuesday, 14 September 2010

My Dichotomy

by Gavin, from The Greening of Gavin.

Have you ever been split between two paradigms?

Well, my life seems to be a constant tug of war between the two main parts of my day that both demand equal amounts of my attention.

Firstly, my job.  I work with a multi-national in Information Technology in the central business district of Melbourne, Australia.  I need to travel from my semi-rural home to the city each day with a total round trip of 2 and a half hours, door to door which is 50 km one way.  I drive to the train station in my Hybrid car, then catch a country train for 50 minutes, then a city train for 10 minutes, and walk from the underground station to a high rise building and work on the 31st floor in a little cubicle that a battery hen would enjoy, surrounded by workmates who probably do the same.

Whilst at work, I do the best I can to be sustainable as I possibly can in an office environment.  I avoid printing, turn off lights in unused meeting rooms, shut down my computer and monitor when I leave, and take the stairs when travelling between floors.  I also work very hard and am proud of my accomplishments at the end of the day.  It is a complex and stressful part of my day, getting even more complex as time goes on.  I often think about the diminishing returns of technology, and that increasing complexity creates larger and larger technology failures.  It is this complexity that is one side of my dichotomy.

Alternatively, when I arrive home, my entire day changes.  Simple tasks like checking on the chickens, enjoying good food from our garden, savouring time with loved ones, and just enjoy the little things like pottering around the garden at my own pace.  Life just slows right down.  I don't need to try and be green and sustainable at home because that is just the way we have designed everything around us, the way we all behave, and what we like talking about.  A very simple lifestyle and we continue to simplify it at every chance we get.

So, as you can see, I have opposing forces at play each Monday to Friday.  One of complexity, hustle and bustle of city life during the day, and a slow, simple lifestyle during the non-job times.  I often remember back to what my life was like when I only had one reality to deal with.  It was unfulfilled, boring, and mind numbing.  Now that I have this yin and yang thing going on, I find that feel kind of in balance and certainly in tune with the things that really matter in my life being, family, the environment and sustainable living.  However, if the balance was tipped the other way towards a completely slow lifestyle, would I still strive so hard in my endeavour to make my local community a better place to live by promoting and educating other about the joys of a simple and sustainable lifestyle? 

I don't really know the answer to that question because I haven't reached that part of my journey yet.  However I can tell you that I know which one I prefer, which is the sustainable lifestyle that our family constantly strives for.  I bet by now you are wondering why I don't throw away the complexity and fully embrace the simple life I so enjoy and desire.  Well, there is this little thing called a mortgage that still needs to be paid off.  We have been pulling together all of our resources together to pay it down as quickly as possible, and all being well, I predict that it will be paid off in 5 and a half years, just in time for my 52nd birthday!  When that happens I believe that my dichotomy will vanish, and all I will need is part time work to earn enough for the few simple needs we will have.

Do any of you have the same dilemma?  City by day, and country by night and weekend.  What are your experiences and what plans do you have to embrace a simpler lifestyle?  If anyone has already made the switch, I would love to hear about your experience.