I started on this journey of romanticizing farm living a few years back. A course in Ecology opened my horizons to alternate solutions, alternate lifestyle, alternate thinking.. well just an alternate to everything that I was doing J There was a rising energy within me to bring all that I had been exposed to into action. The wave led me to joining a lot of NGOs working in the field of environment.
So I planted trees, watered trees, joined movements where we spent 1 hour a week engaging citizens. I was having my own business of home delivery of organic and natural produce. I already knew a lot of people in the NGO industry and once I started working regularly I started getting involved more. Soon I moved from being a business person to being a Volunteer J. I was noticing the change in myself, but I think being a gregarious person, I wanted my daughter and husband also to come along. So our outings on weekends mostly were on a hill or by the river!
Engaging with people to tell them, what you know and they don’t, is a very self pumping activity and I felt a lot of NGOs do that brilliantly. The intension is always positive- to make a shift in people and in turn, the society. The feeling of ‘making the change happen’ and ‘being the change’ were all concocting within me! But as I was getting more and more involved I realised, the ‘change’ that is required is very fundamental in nature and cannot happen only at the influence level. And probably I was also just changing in my head and few activities within my comfort zone. The soap to utna, the washing powder to reetha, the less use of fuel- changes, were baby steps, but I had to turn around and twist my entire body to feel and reach where I wanted to go.
Fundamental changes only happen through experience, I believe. And I wanted to meet people who had made these changes, I wanted to stay with people who were living alternately, I wanted to feel that life atleast for a couple of days and also wanted to do it with my family along. We started on our little adventures and always learnt something new about ourselves, more than anyone else.
Even after all these experiences, I realised, there was something that was holding me back. While reminiscing on these, I realised they were a lot of fears within me that were tying me down in an invisible belt around myself. For one I was in a comfort zone in my family. So if there was a move I was contemplating, it had to be with everyone in the family. So either I had to feel so strongly about the move that I could convince everyone to do it, or I had to wait until either of them had the other half of the energy I had, do be able to make the move together. Now the individual energy of not being sure of the decision is backed by a lot of fears, which I put together under one heading.. FOMO- the fear of missing out.
City life gives me a lot of opportunities to do all the wild things I can think off. Most of the time only in the mind.. but it definitely keeps my options open. And I can be in this centralized system of the city and still live a life with any ideology I want to. Eg: I can live in the city and restrict a lot of my activities and contribute to create awareness about a lot of issues. I can use the cycle and bus to travel, I can compost my garbage, I can recycle my plastic, I can buy toxin free products.. in short, I can be the ‘change’ that I want to see.
When I am living an ideal life in the city, I can also indulge in any of the city pleasures once in a while. I can be aloof all through the year, but can welcome the New Year with a group of friends. I can have varied interests in art and culture and travel and the city gives me the opportunity to consume all this without much effort. With my education and professional career that I have built until now, there are some simple pleasures I enjoy in the city, where I don’t have to do any of own boring and repetitive work- like cooking, and cleaning- I outsource it all! I can instead invest in things that I like to do and always dreamt of doing. All my options are open in the city….. In reality though, my whole life goes by, but in my mind, my options are always open!
And the biggest fear is of losing out these options when I move away from the city. Even if someone keeps telling me that the options actually don’t reduce or go away, on the other hand, would increase, I still fear that it would. One of the prime reasons is it’s a road less taken. My closed mindedness prevents me from taking this step. The second is the fact that I need an outside push to do most of the things in my life. And the city life is forever pushing me around from one thing to another. Influences and distractions are immense and being in the midst of these, makes me forget a lot of my basic thoughts for which I don’t have answers. For eg: once I find some new activity to do, I do it and usually put my life on an auto mode including that new activity and then start looking for something else that excites me! Thus the doing of relentless, unrelated and run of mill activities… keeps going on in my life. One after another…
How do I then wake up to my romanticised dream? Is it when I realise that for every option in my head, I am paying a price in my life? When the air I breath in the city; is making me invest 500 bucks every week on medicines…. when my weight issues are making me join classes worth 5000 rs every month.. … and when I get sucked into some endless redundant job and my dreams seem like long term 5 year plan!
Is it when I know that for every solution that I am advocating in the city, I am also part of the cause? The STP, the plastic, the pollution, the felling of trees.. all is happening because I live and use the city. Every development cannot be questioned with the authorities, when I live in this city and it is being done for me included. For every action in the city, there is consumption that I am acting upon…
As an individual, probably I have not yet learnt to be happy with myself and still need the noise of appreciation and chatter around me to make me feel good. The city and its money, allows me to choose who makes me feel good and thus whom I spend my time with. I don’t seem to be enough within me to spread happiness…. The options which was supposed to help me realise who I am, is it slowly making me forget who I am???
Is that why I in reality, I keep running away from silence…..
because the silence brings with it clarity…..
and clarity, brings with it all my fears.…