Back To Basics - Connecting To A Simpler Life
I remember watching a Japanese reality show (called:自给自足) on being self-sufficient. It showcases people who have abandoned big city living and the 9 to 5 grind to live in self-sustained ways either by themselves or with their families in some further out suburb or farming community. They would plough their small plots of ground and have their own life stock and be sustained via solar and wind energy. They contributed to the village they lived in, and neighbours in turn leave extra harvest on their doorstep.
I always looked forward to watching the show and seeing how they managed or struggled to live in a self-sustained, self-sufficient manner. Some do eventually return to life in the big city of conveniences and technological glitz.
Despite their struggles, I could see this sense of contentment that many experienced. One episode that stood out the most for me was where children who had grown up in this self-sustained living situation and who had left for school in the big city craved so much to return to where they grew up. They have tasted a simpler life with a lot less artifice, and now longed once again for it. For them, the big city life and technology was all smoke and mirrors that became oppressive. They longed to return to connecting with this simplicity.
This series had me thinking a lot about how humans always crave for something better and to be happier. This desire in itself may be harmless, yet we dream of a life of simplicity through automaticity and ended up created structures and systems that are cumbersome and clunky.
“If we had technology to help us with this, then we’ll have more time to relax and enjoy.”
“Technology can help us connect better to others.”
“I’ll work really hard now, so that I can have the money to lead a happy contented life.”
However, we end up in an unending rat-race to feed this dream of simplicity and contentment because these systems we have build require a lot of upkeep and maintenance. So as humans, we start to invent more ways to make the system sustain itself.
I can’t help but feel that these are misguided steps. Every improvement and add-on to the system is one more layer of artifice and more effort required to sustain it. It’s as if the system had a life of its own and is now becoming vampiric – demanding our energy, time and lives to keep it going.
To be frank – were I to ask myself if I would give up the big city living and conveniences of technology and my obsession with YouTube to live in a self-sustained fashion, the answer may be a “no” or “not yet”. Why? Because I have become addicted to it – the big city life. I won’t know what to do with my life without this level of artificial stimulation.
And yet, like many (perhaps including you dear readers), I constantly feel drained of energy and I fret constantly, thinking of having to go to work on Mondays and mourning the lost of my weekends. Ironically, my weekends have not been much to rave about for I spend most of it finishing work that I hadn’t time to finish during the week. It’s again the dream of having a simpler, more contented life. In reality though, the monster of our big city life has started to encroach even on the precious time of my weekend because I let it do so.
I think that I may have come to the conclusion that I would be happy to give up a large chunk of city life – not all of it so that I can still enjoy some conveniences afforded by technology whilst returning to a more basic existence.
So I would ask you readers to consider if you too have been sucked into the hustle and bustle of the big city life. If you too have had to negotiate the multiple complex layers of smokes and mirrors with the promise of happiness and contentment?
If so, perhaps consider if you would, what parts of this huge structure are you prepared to let go of to craft a life that is simpler and more basic? Consider too if you are prepared to take the risk and experience the discomfort of withdrawing from what has become familiar and addictive. If you are prepared to do so, I would urge you once again to take small steps to make these changes happen.