October 29, 2017

An Experiment In Local Living

We moved from the city to this location, then stayed for 9 years. Right here on the Pacific Ocean beach.

Travel is fun. I have done a fair amount of it myself. Before I quit, the knowledge that carbon-based travel is harmful to people and other living things, started to erode at the fun I was having. It felt selfish for me to get my jollies at the expense of everything else.

It was time for an experiment in local living. Few things will rehabilitate your carbon footprint as much as adopting a local lifestyle.

In 2005 Linda and I decided that instead of living in the city, and leaving for more beautiful natural surroundings every chance we got, that we would move somewhere beautiful and tranquil enough that we wouldn't want to leave.

We found our spot on the west coast of Canada, on Vancouver Island. While there, I met a neighbour who said how much she was enjoying staying home. She hadn't left the neighbourhood for several years, not even into the closest town of 10,000 that was a only a few kilometres away. I was kind of blown away.

From a travel-obsessed North American perspective, her lesson in locality seemed outrageous. But I respected her for having such simple needs, as well as an obvious ability to be satisfied with little. I Then I thought, "Isn't that the global human experience, outside of over-consuming rich nations?"

I can't confirm this, but I imagine the majority of humans on Earth rarely go more than a few kilometres from home in their lifetime. And if they do go away, travel is probably in the form of walking, biking, bus, or train. Or donkey, or camel, not an internal combustion toxin factory.

More than likely their travel is also done for more important reasons than, "I was bored".

Some people will say that travel is in our DNA, as justification for their jet-setting, globe-trotting wanderlust. Indeed, that may be the case.

It was "discovered in 1999 by scientists at UC Irvine, DRD4-7R may be responsible for influencing people to do a number of behaviors. People expressing this allele of the Dopamine Receptor D4 gene seem to get a hit of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with reward, when they try new experiences."

However, even if this was reflective of reality, researchers say that only 20% of humans possess gene DRD4-7R, the "Itchy Feet Gene", if you will. Are the rest of us homebodies?

Is there a gene shared by 80% of us that gives a hit of dopamine when we are comfortable in familiar surroundings? When we are satisfied with the magical discoveries that can occur even in small spaces? When we are satisfied with less.

We enjoy traveling, and if we could catch a train close to home, we would roll right on now and then. What we didn't expect, is that we enjoy not traveling about as much. Living a local lifestyle is unfortunately under-rated in place where corporations have taken over.

How can you get people to buy goods and services if they can't be pried out of their comfy refuges from the madness? It is profitable to convince you that all the good stuff is "out there" somewhere. In some mythical, crystal, consumer heaven where you can buy happiness through perpetual motion and money spending.

My experiment has taught me that if I do have the wanderlust gene, I can satisfy it by hiking in the back yard woodlot for an hour or two. Besides, using my computer I can travel to almost anywhere, including space.

Conclusion: I don't see many downsides to living a local lifestyle. And I see many benefits, personally and environmentally.

Try it - staying home is the new traveling.




17 comments:

  1. I have got a lot out of travel in the past and studied as a foreign student which I enjoyed and developed my language skills. These days I have no desire to travel anywhere. I enjoy watching the seasons change while completing local trail runs and meditating. I think it helps to find the rhytmn of where you live and connect with it. Running does this for me as I'm always out and provides a useful counter balance to meditation.
    Peace,
    Alex

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alex,

      I see travel kind of like school. You don't stay in school your whole life. You experience it, take what you learned, and move on with your life a better person. Then it is time to grow roots, and enjoy the benefits of that. Very under-rated.

      Delete
    2. Yes! This! I have a friend who thinks you have to be adventurous and keep traveling and trying new things. I totally disagree. That was all fun when I was young, but at this point I've kind of grown up and feel that this is the "season" to relax and reflect on all the wonderful adventures of life, not keep repeating them over and over in some new place or time. I don't feel the need to try to recapture my younger days. Very happy being older, reading books and your philosophical blog, walking, eating plant based, purchasing only what I need and leaving consumption to those that still haven't found what they're looking for. I'm growing where I'm planted and enjoying every peaceful day.

      Delete
  2. Maybe it's my age and the fact that my hubby and I traveled a lot when we were younger, but I have no desire to leave home these days. I work and shop within a 10 mile radius. That's as far as I want to go now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lorraine,

      It is good for the soul to go deep and really get to know one location well. It fosters a sense of belonging, and connection. I am loving learning more about my immediate surroundings. There is so much RIGHT HERE.

      Delete
  3. My dad was the kind of traveler that had to keep moving. I was an AFS student and a Peace Corps volunteer. I found that so much better to actually stop and live with people. Now I find that if you travel a lot, it is hard to participate in your community. My struggle is that my family has moved away. When I do travel, I try to combine as much as possible together. No plans for a while. I will play in the bell choir for a lady who goes to Arizona for the winter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Annie,

      My family is also far from here, spread all over this large country. I end up not seeing them for long periods of time. But there are other ways of connecting and keeping in touch, and I am thankful for them. Combining things is the way to go, for short or long voyages.

      Delete
  4. A bit off topic, but What The Health is on YouTube, well worth watching to see what's going on along with the lies:

    https://youtu.be/MfUfTU61cak

    Peace,
    Alex

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alex,

      Thank you. Will look at this. So many lies, so little time.

      Delete
    2. Hi Alex,

      thanks for the link. I just watched it and will share it with friends, some of whom have gone back to eating meat and dairy after years on a plant-based diet. The number one reason for switching back seems to be convenience. The fact is that being sick is very inconvenient indeed!

      I read a wonderful quote by Marlene Watson-Tara the other day - "if you don't take care of your body where will you live".

      Madeleine.x

      Delete
    3. Wow, Madeleine. Love that quote.

      Delete
  5. I travelled extensively around a lot of the world in my 20s and its highly encouraged to do so where I'm from. That could be down to the fact that here in NZ the closest country is still about a 4 hour flight. The other side of the world takes 24 hours plus so Kiwis tend to do their 'OE'(overseas experience) for a few years before coming home. And now I'm like the others. Wouldn't want to travel again now, I've seen the grass on the other side and ours is definitely greener. It's lovely to meet new people and experience different cultures but at the end of the day blooming where you are planted isn't really such a bad idea sometimes :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen,

      Linda and I did something similar. We took a year off and traveled in our own country, and internationally during that time. It was amazing, and the best thing was the people we met, including many incredible Kiwis that we still keep in touch with today.

      We learned a great deal about the world, and ourselves, during our year. It changed our lives. We have not gone traveling again since. That was 2001.

      Delete
  6. This is a hard one for me. I don't see me ever giving it up fully. Traveling has taught me so much that I couldn't have learned on the Internet or in a book. A photo is not the same as being there. The experience of being in another place emersed in another culture is an education like no other. Traveling has given me a perspective that has enriched my life and deepened my understanding in countless ways. I can't even imagine who I'd be without this history. I love doing local things too and tend toward local now but that's mostly due to a greatly reduced income. I do feel guilty and even shame sometimes for still enjoying the few journeys I still make because I have an idea about how much excessive travel by so many is doing to the environment. I travel as frugally as possible in hopes of minimizing my impact.

    Anne, my dad was like yours, always on the move. I moved 17 times my first 18 years of life. Lots of states and cities. It was always my dad's idea to relocate. It was a bitter sweet experience. I lived up in your neck of the woods at one time.

    One of my favorite all time books is "When Wonderers Cease To Roam: A Travelers Journal of Staying Put" by Vivian Swift. It's an art journal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Terri,

      "Wanderlust" by Rebecca Solnit is excellent as well. I read that Charles Darwin, after traveling the world extensively before publishing "The Evolution of Species", never went much farther than the yard of his modest home.

      It would be nice to have low carbon forms of travel. Bikes, trains, electric buses, sailing ships and such. Or transporters like on Star Trek.

      Delete
  7. I think I'll start a blog. I'll call it Not Doing Anything. People who live by the Protestant work ethic (no idle hands) will be aghast that anyone should not be a participant in the dictum that one should work themselves to death. Retailers will be horrified because if you're not doing anything then you're not consuming either. NDAs will be more apt to do the minimum amount of work, cooking and producing to make life simple and comfortable and nothing else. Anything beyond the necessities will be ignored. All that extra time will be spent enjoying nature, fresh air, a good book, a simple peasant style meal, lots of naps, walking, thinking and just being (anyone else remember "contemplating one's navel?"). Om.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deva,

      I will be the first person to subscribe to your Not Doing Anything blog. I love your philosophy of living a slow, contemplative life of simplicity. The world would be a better place if more people practiced doing nothing. Sitting in a quiet room, doing nothing. Except "navel gazing".

      You might like James Livingstone's essay "Fuck Work", which can be found at:

      https://aeon.co/essays/what-if-jobs-are-not-the-solution-but-the-problem

      "How would human nature change as the aristocratic privilege of leisure becomes the birthright of all?"

      - James Livingstone

      Delete

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