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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Exiting The Rat Race



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 computer 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, but like many other people stuck in the rat race, and due to my inaction and consumeristic habits, it was as good as it got. 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 way 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, 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.

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 have read this my personal blog from the beginning, 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 only once 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 have managed to come to grips with who I am, and what I want 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 complete and that my life was complete. I found that a simple life had meaning, albeit occasionally hard work, 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, 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 fulfilling. All of the things that my family and I have done over the last two 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 and took a pay cut so that I could work a 9 day fortnight. 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 by choice, but we have a fuller lifestyle. We have comfort in knowing that we produce our own solar electricity and solar 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 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 about 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 word about my lifestyle. 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 five 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 has 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. I have found the "something" that I was missing. It was inside of me all along, and I just didn't know it at the time!

24 comments:

Karen said...

Love this!

LindaG said...

Great post, Gavin.

SARINA said...

What a great advert for simpler living!!

Michael from Canberra said...

Awesome post Gavin!!!

Frugal Queen said...

I am with you on this one, I have halved my income and doubled my real true life, I've never been happier xxx

Rose said...

That is one of your classic posts Gavin.

dixiebelle said...

Don't contaminate your compost pile with that toxic sludge!! ;)

Great post Gavin... sums it up nicely, shows that anyone can do it, and that you can live better for less!

Tricia said...

Inspiring post Gavin. I imagine there are many people in a situation very similar to you pre-epiphany. Here’s hoping more and more people become more connected with themselves, their community and the environment.

Kim said...

A lovely, lovely post, Gavin. I think it is really important to let people know who you were before your 'epiphany' ...often the people we get frustrated with for not seeing 'the light' are simply at a different stage and they too may change a great deal in time with the right influences around them.

wvhiker said...

I really enjoyed your post. I too have been thinking of changing things up a bit and am hopefully in the process to start the first change. More space to get outside!

The Duck Herder said...

freakin' awesome post Gavin!

Tania @ Out Back said...

I really enjoyed this post Gavin, you keep me inspired!

Theanne said...

you talk the talk and walk the walk, I like that! Are there resources for people who want to do what they can to "save our planet" but they live in apartments...I'd love to find creative tips or "how to's" to help those of us who rent and still care about our planet!

From a plant... said...

Great post!

@ Theanne - there are lots of things you can do to reduce your impact while renting. The main thing you cannot do living in an apartment is have a garden or animals :( BUT there are great people out there who can grow/produce food for us in an environmentally responsible way! Check out farmers markets, vege boxes, CSA's, organic stores, bulk stores, etc. As a renter you can also put pressure on your landlord to make their property more green - here in NZ there are subsidies for insulating your home but many landlords have not taken this up!

SarahR said...

A really inspiring post, Gavin. I really appreciate that your epiphany has been a journey, and that you're still on it.

Frugal Down Under said...

In the past 2 years I've joined the eco-frugality wagon, garden my own produce, eat out less, cook more from scratch, buy less stuff and try to only buy it second hand, use the library like crazy, paying off our home super quickly. And just recently cut back my work hours, bike to and from work, have more time with my daughter. I can feel the stress falling off me and I'm no longer resenting work.

I LOVED this post!

Anonymous said...

Love this post Gavin! This reflects my own journey to simplicity and healing from consumerism. Thankyou for sharing : )Ruthy

Anonymous said...

A very thoughtful and thought provoking post. Thanks Gavin.

Gavin Webber said...

Thanks everyone. I wrote this post straight from the heart, and I am so glad that it came out well.

To answer Theanne's question about greening up your rental abode, have a look at the Green Renters site. Just click on each room in the picture of the house for great green tips that renters can use.

Gav x

sl.tudor said...

This is amazing gavin..lovely post..so uplifting and inspiring..we also had family who thought mum and dad have lost the plot..but its so fulfilling..less money but some how i feel so much richer
take care
sara

Rumies said...

Wow Gav... What an inspirational piece. Thanks to you my eyes have opened. Thank you so so much. I just can't thank you enough for the path you have led me!!

Rumies

Wendy said...

Thanks for sharing

Minni Mlist said...

Love this post, especially the title. That's step one, I think, just deciding to stop and take another route.

cumbrian said...

Can really appreciate this post.

After 35 years of chasing rainbows, forever trying to make that bit more money to satisfy a wife (now ex) who knew that pleasure revolved around posessions, the latest fashion, the biggest TV, the exotic holidays, etc.

I was forced into frugality when she decided she no longer wanted me as part of her life.

Although I was gutted at the time, and almost destitute, I now live a much happier life with my new wife on about one-fifth or one-sixth of my previous income.

Hope she's as happy with her millionaire boyfriend.