July 20, 2009
Ever wished for the simple life? Like when you were a kid, or a student. A life that has time to do the things you want to do? During the current economic bowel movement some people are getting their wish, having been pooped out by an ailing system. But they are turning poop into fertilizer.
For the funemployed the pleasures of a simpler life are apparent. They are re-branding their joblessness. They are taking advantage of being unemployed, which has never had much cachet in our work and money-obsessed culture. Instead of moping about and feeling like losers, they are seeing the value in being time-rich. They are doing what they want, not what their parents, or society wants them to do. They are going against their cultural programming that says it is better to have more money than more time.
We did not invent "labour-saving devices" and increase personal wealth so we could have less time than ever before to do what matters most to us. Many couples are convinced that double incomes are the only way parents can support a family. What happened to all the leisure time advertisers have been promising since I was a kid? Even with automatic everything we are more time stressed than ever.
Time will get you money, but money can't get you time. When you are on your deathbed taking your last breath, you can not, regardless of how much money you have, buy more time. Best you take advantage of the time allotted you while you can. Instead of fretting and worrying about being jobless, think about the free time you have had thrust upon you. Once a boss fired me by saying, "I am going to give you a wonderful opportunity to do something else, because as of today you no longer work here." I saw it as an opportunity, too. It was my first brush with funemployment.
A person could spend a great deal of time combing help wanted ads and pounding the pavement, resumes in hand, but I don't recommend that. See your freedom as a gift and you may never want to go back to the usual regime of work, sleep, repeat. A lighter life requires less money, less work, and allows you more time.
A job for most of us working stiffs is about money, nothing more, and there is nothing attractive about poverty. But let's face it, many of us in high-consuming nations could give up a whole lot before we got anywhere close to poverty levels. The more material things we give up, the less money we need. You are free to work part time, or casual, or on contract. Or be funderemployed.
Funderemployed is when you take a lower paying job because it really interests you, even though you may be overqualified. Some examples in my own life are river rafting with school groups, tour guide of a waste water treatment plant, and chauffeur. All paid less than I was used to, but all had either a more flexible schedule, a more scenic workspace, or interesting people I would not meet otherwise. Each job provided experiences I would not have had if I had stuck to a more profitable though less interesting line of work. Mostly though, I had increased control over my time.
What would you do if you had more time? Go fishing. Take the kids to the park. Plant a garden. Sit under a tree. Draw. Sing. Learn to play an instrument. Visit a friend. Picnic with your partner. Have a nap. Read a book. Lay on a beach. Walk a labyrinth. Ride a bike on a trail. Stay up late. Stargaze. Sleep in. Help a neighbour. Volunteer at your kids school. Take a trip. Go for a walk. Bake bread. Plan a staycation. Get an interesting part-time job.
The funemployed know a good thing when they see it. The idea of more work , more money, and more stuff, past a certain point, falls prey to the law of diminishing returns. After that point more becomes detrimental to you and your surroundings. What most of us need is more time. And you can't buy that. You just have to take it.
July 16, 2009
The planet is choking, and if we don't get off fossil fuels soon we are going to kill it. Quite a shame, really, because it is a most excellent planet. Safely orbiting in the Goldilocks Zone, it has provided a space for life to flourish for a long time.
Our atmosphere is a fragile, thin protective blanket. It can not absorb endless amounts of waste that result from our insatiable desire for comfort, convenience, and entertainment. What if our planet, by our actions, becomes toooo hot, and is no longer a Goldilocks planet?
There is no doubt that massive change needs to take place to avert disaster. The time to make leisurely changes passed us by in the 70's, back when the establishment was dabbing pepper spray into the eyes of hippies and "eco-terrorists". Even the term "environmentalist" has been tarnished by the growthanistas that would like to continue raping, pillaging and dumping to their profits content. It is time for us to join the global cause and come together for our mutual benefit.
As painful as some may view the inevitable, developed countries are going to make the largest contribution to change simply by practicing conservation, mostly through the reduction of wants. Personally, I see this as a wonderful opportunity for us to restore balance to a system that has become grossly wobbly at the top and threatens to topple if regular people stand by and allow it to happen.
Will the economy rebound? Who cares? It never worked in the first place. Ignoring and disregarding the unpleasant results of our quest for more is where we went wrong. Situations now confront us with those results whether we acknowledge them or not. It could be global warming, it could be your local stream or lake that no longer supports fish. The current global economic trouble is the best chance for change we have had in generations.
The old order would like to crank up the tattered treadmill of the old economy, but it is broke. We built that system, we can build a new one. Thankfully, such endeavours have begun. Solar power projects, wind energy, and a newly compliant G8 willing to lead the way. If we are to meet the target of an 80% reduction by 2050, we are all going to need to hook into this project.