The internet brings me many tidbits, connections, and inspirations. It’s a time-waste and a treasure-trove.
I found this recent read thanks to Sarah Peck. (Side note: Sarah, too, trained and worked in landscape architecture. A definite kindred spirit.)
David Cain’s article, Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed, resonates soundly with the season I’m in right now: the musings over New Zealand’s flat whites and the ease of dropping dollars on coffees here at home, the loss of space for life-giving things that cost more time than money, and the real price of our current system of economics.
"Here in the West, a lifestyle of unnecessary spending has been deliberately cultivated and nurtured in the… http://t.co/NAhLQcVxle
— Sarah Kathleen Peck (@sarahkpeck) June 24, 2014
I started to share the article as a Facebook post but then thought better of it, deciding it was worth more than a fleeting status update. (An update that would only get seen by .02% of the page’s “likers” anyway… Hence, another reason I rarely post anything on that page to begin with.)
This article from a once-traveler, now 9-5-er points out the systemic, underlying trouble with our lifestyle:
“Under these [40-hour work week] working conditions people have to build a life in the evenings and on weekends. This arrangement makes us naturally more inclined to spend heavily on entertainment and conveniences because our free time is so scarce.
“I’ve only been back at work for a few days, but already I’m noticing that the more wholesome activities are quickly dropping out of my life: walking, exercising, reading, meditating, and extra writing.
“The one conspicuous similarity between these activities is that they cost little or no money, but they take time.”
I so enjoyed the taste outside the system when Ted and I were long term travelers.
That time for writing, taking photos, exploring, sleeping, taking slow routes instead of fast ones…
Now that we’re back in the midst of the rat-race (and parenthood layered on top of that), I feel even more acutely the pinches on time and the allure of purchased band-aids to mask the pain of fatigue.
In present life, the work days and grocery lists are long.
Somehow, the saving fueled by trip-planning was so much easier to pull off than the saving fueled by down-payment goals. Maybe because I could see the liberty of being footloose on the horizon? Now, I see the future mortgage payments grinding like gears.
I read the article as a warning sign. A reminder to keep perspective.
“We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.”
“Healthy, happy people don’t feel like they need much they don’t already have, and that means they don’t buy a lot of junk, don’t need to be entertained as much, and they don’t end up watching a lot of commercials.”
Of course, the reason I could earn, save, and un-tether myself from society to gallivant around the globe was because there an economy existed that would support earning and saving and would act as a landing pad.
“Can you imagine what would happen if all of America stopped buying so much unnecessary fluff that doesn’t add a lot of lasting value to our lives? The economy would collapse and never recover.”
And then what?
I’m still mulling it all over. Sifting through thoughts as I juggle housework and Facebook (and a blog that I can’t afford to love as much as I do).
There’s a part of me that would love to go back to tracking every little purchase on the road in my tiny Moleskine notebook.
Short on dollars: long, long, long on time.
If you’ve got time (speaking of that precious commodity), pop over and read David Cain’s full piece: Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason for the 40 Hour Work Week.
What do you think?
Time to spend like money, or money to spend like time?
Ecclesiastes 1:17: But when I set my mind to understand wisdom, and also to understand madness and folly, I realized that this too was just wind chasing.