Sunday, 14 August 2011

What to do in the meantime

Aurora @ Island Dreaming

We have lived in our current home for a little over three years - a small terraced house with a small patio at the back. Our home is a temporary one - we rent, in a city that we don't want to stay in past the next five years, three if we can manage it. We hope to stay in this house for a few more years until we are in a position to relocate across the country - but we could be served notice by our landlord at any time, adding another layer of uncertainty. Some of us carry a vision of a self sufficient farm out in the sticks, others an urban backyard farm - somewhere more permanent where we can put down roots. It can be hard to reconcile those visions with a nine to five job and a rented garden-less studio flat - and very easy to slip into the mainstream, consuming lifestyle more usual to those environments. So what do you do?

This is a time for us to get our house in order - not that there aren't other reasons to do so anyway. Cover the basics. The things that take no more time, space and energy to do than 'normal' ways of doing things. Begin to clean using natural cleaning products. Be mindful of your energy use. At least say hello to your neighbours and find out their names. Decide on a budget and begin to pay off debts and start saving. Be concious of what you are eating. Read widely on the skills and activities that you would like to incorporate into your life.

Take the time to declutter, not least because moving possessions from house to house is a complete pain. If you are storing possessions that no longer fit who you are now or who you plan to be when you finally move on, then you are wasting space, time and energy. Our DVD collection was one of the first things to be pared down - we just weren't planning on having that much spare time on our hands to sit re-watching mediocre movies, what with all the baking, brewing and gardening we were planning on doing. Use the space creatively to stock pile food or create a craft workspace.

Use this time to experiment and decide what you really want your future to look like. Before you sink all of your time, energy and money into a permanent home, test your vision on the smaller scale. I can tell you now, after a few years of experimentation, that I want to bake all of our own bread - as we infact now do - but it took three years of false starts and resignation to even learn to make an edible loaf, before that, it was merely an aspiration, a lovely vision of something that we should do. On the other hand, after a few kitchen experiments,  I can tell you I have absolutely no interest in cheese making and dairying - and by extension livestock rearing. Its better to learn these things now than ending up in my 'ideal place' and finding out it isn't so ideal.

It is important too to focus on the things you like about where you now are. I like our neighbours and will miss them. I love the fact that the city is so vibrant at night. I like the roar that reverberates across the city from the football stadium every Saturday and Wednesday. I love the little community gardens and orchards that are popping up here and there, the parks, the sunshine and mild climate. It has taken me a while to recognise and be thankful for these things - but they enrich my life in the here and now.

It took us a few years to realise that where we find ourselves now is the perfect place to begin living the life that we envision - because this is the only place we have. It marks us out as fairly unusual in our street - we have herb boxes outside the front door, food growing in containers out the back - and if anyone looked, a food and brewing grain stockpile stashed in nooks around our house from the kitchen to the bedroom.  I know that whilst they might not live in our street, their are others across the city living like this too and doing what they can.

There are no guarantees in life; and waiting for the perfect time and conditions to come along  to begin living is a huge gamble. The only thing to do is to be here now and do what you can.