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Living Differently

Once again I seem to have had a longer break than planned. I have started a new job 3 days a week and whilst it is officially only a half day (1 session in GP parlance) each day, what with the round-about commute via my daughter’s school and my total inability to run to time in 10 minute appointments it does seem to take up the whole day. Fitting in regular writing slots therefore becomes quite a challenge. However it was thinking about this issue that gave me inspiration for today’s article.

Living Differently is something I have always wanted to do .. but it’s a nebulous thought and hard to pin down. I do know that it probably doesn’t entail driving half way around London to get to a school and then a workplace – that seems to be rather too mainstream and boring to count as “living differently”.  I also know that for me it does not involve a commune or even a multi-family house. But is does involve change, and change that I somehow know will be hard to do and easy to have done. The sort of change that I’ll put off and put off more, then think “why didn’t I do that sooner”. However I also am concerned that it is something that to be fulfilled how I am starting to see it, needs other people to embrace the same sort of changes – and that might be rather more difficult.  

I should think for most of us who are concerned about environmental issues, food provenance, or rounded health and well-being we are aware that we can / want to / should make some changes …and we start by living outside of the societal norms of consumerism, one-upmanship, economic growth mind-sets and disposable culture. We eat sustainable food; go to refill shops; upcycle our stuff; minimalise; swap, share and borrow; support environmental charities and fair trade; switch our car to electric; take the train; go glamping in the UK; use ethical banks and many other good. But is this really the “living differently” I crave? … And more importantly is it enough to make any difference?

Really living differently requires thinking outside the box, and if I’m honest I don’t really know where to start. Our entire lives are lived within a particular culture (or maybe 2 if we have immigrated from far-flung places or grown up in a country that has switched from communism to capitalism). We know only what we know, and thinking outside of that is challenging.

If I picture what I really mean by living differently I mean something like this:

I mean living in a community whereby everyone lives and works locally; where my work benefits you and yours benefits me; where many of us grow food for our community and those nearby – some do it as a hobby or a connection and social thing and a few do it as a job; where our children play outside together; where our roads are quiet and our bikes need constant attention due to their frequent riding; where we meet for coffee knowing that the coffee was grown organically, paid for fairly and transported cleanly, the milk is local and the cake is home baked; where the food we have to buy in from elsewhere is not packaged in plastic or filled with chemicals and where it is sold from shops that support not only our community, but the communities and environments from which they buy.

On top of this I also mean living near to those I know and love; having my extended family and my long term friends near-by; having mental and emotional capacity to welcome and get to know all those I don’t in the vicinity; of living life – not on top of each other (I’m quite and introvert and need my space) but in community with each other.

I know the benefits of all of this.

At the very least it will help to combat loneliness, depression, social isolation, drink and drug issues, crime, particulate pollution levels (and therefore asthma attacks), obesity (due to better metabolic health from better eating and more outdoor stuff), rubbish pollution, plastic waste. I’m sure there are many other things that would fall into place too

But I have no idea where to start and this fact leaves me feeling quite stuck.

The issues I see are around how those changes affect others, and how those changes don’t work if it’s only me that changes.  

If anyone has any ways to get unstuck I’d love to hear them.

If anyone wants to build Utopia with me, let me know .. but don’t expect a rapid response – the reality of change is always scary.

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Published by ecogreengp

GP, Wife, Mum, Climate Activist, Enthusiastic Cook. Owner of a car named Leafy, a cat named Biscuit and a hamster named Carrot. Disorganised beyond belief. .... sometimes I don't even put my shoes on.

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