No, I'm not talking about the move aboard, though this is part of that. I first noticed it during this last week while we were out doing laundry. The local laundromat is one of those large, overly bright spaces with a billion machines and nine--count em--nine big screen tv's all going at once at full volume. Eight of them featured quiz shows full of manically grinning, wildly overly excited people screaming and bouncing up an down over winning another toaster that they won't use. The ninth, in the children's corner, featured similarly manically excited adults, screaming and jumping up and down in the ecstasy of counting to five. It was all kind of too much. We folded the clothes and virtually RAN out of the place.
Now don't get me wrong, in the past, this would just have been background noise. I might even have sat there and dully watched the screens while the laundry churned. I realized, though, that something had changed, not in the TV shows, but in me. Once they were just there. Now they seemed infantile, irritating, and impossibly vulgar. I thought about it all the way back to the boat.
Since we'd moved aboard, we had been able to give ourselves the one thing that work and jobs and income hadn't been able to buy us: Time. We'd been living in a beautiful place, full of the sights and sounds of nature. There was time now for introspection, time to do things we'd never had or taken the time to do: Time to talk to people, time to think about things, time to start projects and take walks and just sit in contemplation. We began, almost without thought, to take more and more control of our own lives. Both former restauranteurs, we began cooking more, making meals from scratch because we enjoyed it, and in the process, eating far more healthily. Unsatisfied with commercial products, we started experimenting, roasting our own coffee, making our own deodorant (no fooling), compounding our own toothpaste; we started a vertical pot garden on the shanty boat, growing our own fresh vegetables and herbs. Our local explorations led us to local farm stands and gardeners. We had the time to walk virtually every day.
In the course of this boat project, I'd lost nearly 30 pounds. My blood pressure--borderline hypertense--dropped to 117/63. Bizarrely, my hair and beard seems to have stopped graying. Before, dealing with bureaucracies and money and schedules, we had been frazzled, often angry, and tired. Now we were, by and large, (dare I say it) happy. In so very many ways, this move aboard has changed the way we live and the way we feel.
|Time for yourself is out there waiting for you. The only secret is deciding what's important in your life.
But more than that, during our downsize, we were forced to change the way we related to the possessions in our life, to things. Our lives are far from monastic, but we were forced to pare our possessions down to the things that we actually used, or that actually had some meaning to us. We had to make decisions as to what things we truly wanted in our lives.
So it should not be surprising to find that we had, to a very great extent, unplugged from consumer culture, from the culture of the race for possessions, and that we were now, in some weird way, viewing it from outside. It was a rather rattling experience.
The secret, folks, is time.
Simplifying life to a boat or a tiny home, to a small apartment or a cabin or just as an act of self-possession can give you the freedom to just stop and take note of your own life, something which, I suspect, commercial interests would really rather you not do. Once you find a slower, more gentle pace, all the other benefits--physical and mental--seem to follow.
Give it a shot. You have nothing to lose but a lot of crap you aren't using, along with your next heart attack.
Mungo and Morgainne
And, of course, First Feline, Magellan
Aboard the Shantyboat Floating Empire