I had a long talk with my husband today about where we are going and what we are doing and why. We have a problem with money. We don’t have enough of it. However, when I think of the life that I truly want to live, money doesn’t figure in too much. So, what is it that we need money for? Food, shelter, healthcare, entertainment. That just about covers it right? Oh, education. Yikes, that’s a big one that we will be paying a for a long time.
On the other hand, what are some of the ills that plague modern life, ills that may require more money? Stress. Boredom. Poor health. Lack of exercise. Sedentary living. Not enough time with family. Not enough time doing things we enjoy. Low quality food. Lack of sleep. Anxiety. Depression. Alcoholism. Obesity. These are huge. These ills are in the newspapers every day. Enormous amount of ink is spilled and money spent on mitigating these side effects of our lives.
The majority of these negative by-products of our lives are the direct result of earning money.
When I think of the job I left, my life looked like this: Get up early, hear the alarm, fight the feeling that if I could only sleep for 45 more minutes everything would be okay. Convince myself to go on a run/do 30 minutes of yoga. Shower, get dressed with an eternally insufficient wardrobe, drink coffee, pack a lunch, eat a quick breakfast, kiss my husband and out the door for an hour commute. Try not to get to angry about the other drivers on the road, try to enjoy the sunrise, try not to be impatient. At work a strange combination of intense boredom and intense stress. Constant onslaught of deadlines and ticking clocks. Excitement in the courtroom, adrenaline, fast thinking and talking, satisfaction with occasionally helping make something better, frustration with being unable to make more things better. Intensely draining responsibility. More filing and boredom. Back in the car for an hour. Home, not as tidy as I’d like, fight with husband over that fact, figure out dinner, watch TV, drink beer, go to bed. Wash rinse repeat. Every day counting down the minutes until 5 o’clock, the hours until Friday. Weekends clean the house, do the shopping, drink a little too much one night, try to do something fun with husband (such as go to Target or a local nursery), go on long run, Monday comes too soon.
My life was a constant battle between not having enough time to do any of things I needed to do, and not enough time to do any of the things I wanted to do. Sure, my job was exciting, sometimes fulfilling, often stimulating, and I didn’t hate it. Was I living the life I really wanted? No. Did I even know what that looked like? No. Now that I have had so much time to think through all of this, I realize that maybe it isn’t just a necessary evil. Maybe a 8-5 life, living on weekends isn’t an inevitability.
So, we were talking about it today. If I really am not going to go back to law for a while (maybe ever), then I need something to do. The first step is to figure out what we can do to lessen our dependence on money. We still need to earn it, and hope to earn enough to pay for a good education for our son and the ability to travel. We are working towards going into business for ourselves in landscaping, but that is still in the future. If my time and energy is not going to be spent earning money, then I need to be doing something to partially replace the need for it. I am doing that first by providing child care for our son. Our next biggest expense by far is groceries. The plan is to build a greenhouse and actually try to pull off growing enough food for our family to eat. People have done it in the past, people do to now. I’m fairly confident I can pull it off. We are planning a solar powered greenhouse that can grow year round. (We live in the mountains and have a shortish growing season and cold winters). I need to grow enough, consistently, and with enough variety to keep us satisfied. Me managing a large year round garden has benefits that extend beyond the food production and cutting costs. It is something I enjoy, it is a source of exercise, it will give me an opportunity to teach my child about many things, it will fight cabin fever, it will give us another beautiful space to spend time, and it is good for the environment. So there it is, another step towards a big shift and an attempt to escape the 8-5 gerbil wheel and all of the woes that accompany it. It also takes care of one of the two necessities according to Cicero and provides a food source for the zombie apocalypse.
Here is a link to the greenhouse we are looking into. It is a relatively expensive investment on the the front end. It won’t be expensive to maintain once built and established, and will quickly earn it’s keep in saving us from paying for child care and all of those expensive organic, locally grown veggies that we buy. growing spaces
I leave you with the following thoughts from the great Herman Melville:
“There is all the difference in the world between paying and being paid. The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable affliction that the two orchard thieves entailed upon us. But being paid- what will compare with it? The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvelous, considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!”
*title credits: The Notorious B.I.G., Aesop Rock