“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – Bilbo Baggins
For awhile now, I’ve been thinking about making some major changes to our way of life.
Last year, my husband had some health problems that resulted in two different ambulance rides to the local hospital. He’s fine now (though that’s certainly relative), but I constantly worry that the next trip is right around the corner. It’s all caused by stress, of course, and his job is the main cause. He owns his own business, a professional services company (yes, he “built that!”), and that means long days meeting customer demands, finding new business, and putting out fires. He not only feels responsible to our family, but to those of his employees, as well. His goal is to make enough money to retire early, make sure the kids are “set,” and ensure that we can enjoy our non-kid years doing the fun stuff we don’t have much time for now.
But I worry he won’t make it that far.
I also worry about the message we are sending our children. Work hard to get good grades so you can go to a good college where you need to work hard to get a great job so you can kill yourself making money to pay for stuff so you can maybe finally be free when you are getting too old to enjoy it. See what you have to look forward to, kids?!
Why? Because “stuff” costs money, of course.
Not just food, clothing, & shelter, but all manner of things. Tangible things like cars, furniture, electronics. Not-so-tangible things like taxes, home/car/health/life insurance, cellphone service, music lessons. Fun things like movies, sporting events, and vacations. And not-so-fun things like vet bills and home repairs and surgeries.
Wouldn’t having less money mean giving up some of that stuff?
Why, yes. Yes it would.
I think we probably have it better than most Americans do these days. We live within our means. We save for retirement, college, and emergencies. We have a mortgage (LTV is about 70%), but pretty much no other debt. We do use credit cards for the “points” but pay them off in full every month. I drive a ten-year-old van with 100k+ miles on it. Thankfully, we no longer worry about my husband having an unforeseen job loss. And if he did, assuming the economy allowed, Plan B would be for me to go back to my career as a CPA. (We had to temporarily implement Plan B once before when I was 9 months pregnant w/our son – which is how hubby came to own his own company.)
But there is more to my desire for change.
Awhile back, I started getting an uneasy feeling. I can’t tell you exactly when because I think I kept dismissing it in the beginning. It wasn’t something I could explain; I just knew I wasn’t feeling “right.” I had this nagging feeling that I need to be better prepared to take care of my family. Certainly some of my apprehension stemmed from the bleak economic news of the times (which continues today, assuming you’re paying attention and don’t accept MSM news stories at face value). But I don’t think that was all of it.
I tend to sit with things for awhile and mull them over, like picking at a knot. I kept these thoughts to myself, not even sharing them w/my husband. Partly because I couldn’t even really articulate what I was feeling yet, but also because I didn’t want anyone to think I was nuts. I am a big believer in animal instinct. We humans are animals, but because we have been “civilized,” we learned long ago to ignore that instinct. In some (many) cases, it has been bred out of us completely. It’s that small voice we have deep inside. I still try to hear mine; and when I feel like it’s sounding the alarm, I listen.
So I thought long and hard about what it would mean to give up the traditional suburban life, to detach from a society that tries to control you by making you feel inadequate at every turn, to SIMPLIFY.
For me, that means relying less on others and learning to DO for myself. Getting back to the land, growing my own food, and/or supporting those who do so naturally and organically. Doing without certain conveniences and technological advances. And learning, learning, learning!
My hope in making these changes is that we will be happier and healthier and feel more connected to the Universe.