While I was out shopping this past Friday, I ran into an old friend I haven’t seen in years. We chatted for a bit, and he asked why on earth we would move to the middle of buttfuck nowhere and go more off-grid than we already are.
Some days, I don’t have an answer for that. I don’t know how I’m going to do with living a bisquillion miles from the nearest retail mecca. I already live almost half an hour away from the nearest twelve step meeting, so moving to an even more remote area and being even further from the nearest twelve step meeting makes little sense to me. I don’t know how well it’s going to go when the only human contact I have some days is Sunshine. I don’t know why on earth we would want to move to the middle of buttfuck nowhere and go more off grid than we already are.
Other days, I know absolutely why, and there isn’t one simple easy answer for it.
I mean, I am an addict, with all the baggage that goes along with that: criminal history, shitty credit score, no retirement savings whatsoever. Some nights, the fear keeps me awake. What the hell am I going to do when my body starts to fail me? What would become of me if something happened to Sunshine? Just thinking about questions like these makes my chest hurt with panic right now, you know? Living simply provides some comfort, because it costs less which means I have less to worry about. Living simply makes it easier to sock away funds for the future.
But it goes beyond just fear of what the future may or may not hold.
I look around me and I see the rampant consumerism, the endless cycle of want/buy/discard/want, and it sickens me. I see shows about hoarding and weddings in the mid-five-figures and reality competition shows to find the next great fashion designer/builder/remodeler/chef/furniture builder/product inventor, and I just wonder how much of any of that shit we really need. Twelve step recovery opened my eyes to the myriad of ways I was constantly seeking to fill the void inside myself and made me realize that the only way to fill the void was to get ok with me instead of trying to change the way I felt about me. The longer I stick around in recovery from addiction, the less I feel a void that needs to be filled.
I watch the people around me constantly buying more things and trying to change others to conform with their ideas about how the world should be, and I am so grateful I don’t feel the urge to do shit like that most days. All of that required a lot of effort, and (thanks to my COPD) I get tired enough just walking to the mailbox to waste my precious energy on trying to make the world act the way I want it to act.
I have learned to be content with what I have. Well, most days, anyway. Occasionally, I will realize that perhaps a new pair of shoes would benefit me in some way, or some new gadget might make my life a bit easier, or some new style of pants might be cool to have. The big difference today is that I don’t buy to fill the void; I buy to fulfill a purpose, to add value to my life AS IT IS RIGHT NOW–not how I wish it were. In the case of the new shoes, I chose high-tops that would give me ankle support while working in the yard. In the case of the gadgets, a dishwasher made doing kitchen clean-up infinitely easier (and if the truth is told, the dishwasher actually made Sunshine’s life easier as he no longer has to help wash, rinse and dry dishes because our tiny house on wheels has no counter space). In the case of the pants, well, that is a mix of aesthetics and function. Cream silk Ferragamo pants, no matter how beautiful, don’t fit my life as it really is. Skinny jeans and drop crotch sweats do, and I am a child of the 80s so I love me some skinny jeans.
It’s also about what we are collectively doing to the planet we call home. Do we really believe that there is an endless supply of petrochemicals from which to create more plastic crap and polyester clothes to want/buy/discard/want? Do we really think that all of the greenhouse gases and toxic wastes we spew aren’t having an effect on the environment? Do we really think it’s OK to have 12 year old children in developing countries toil away all day in horrible conditions for horrible pay–just to make us more dresses to wear to the club Saturday and throw away Sunday?
At the moment, I live in a “wetland of international significance”, which is a fancy way to say a swamp protected by an international treaty. I look around me, and I see plastic water bottles littering the shores of this lake, I see tires on the side of the road, I’ve seen shoes and socks just discarded on boat docks and never reclaimed, I see Styrofoam takeout containers in ditches; I see all this senseless waste and it sickens me.
I don’t know if we can make any noticeable difference by going to live simply in the middle of buttfuck nowhere. What I do know is that I have to be the change I want to see in the world. So I guess THAT is why.