Are you on the work, watch, spend treadmill?
Jumping on the hedonic treadmill is what normal people do. I don’t. I rather like people who are not normal. Who do things differently. I believe that Life begins after normal.
It all starts here.
The work, watch, spend treadmill is all about buying stuff to make us feel better about ourselves. Stuff we have been told we need to make us fit in with, well normal people.
Many of us go to work so we have the money to buy stuff. Stuff we probably don’t need. Got an iPhone 3, really that is so last year? Now you need an iPhone 4G and in five months that will be so out of date, Apple will bring out a new version soon.
People queue all night to get their hands on the new version of Windows, trainers or the iPhone to replace the shiny ones they bought less than a year ago. Why? I have an iPad. It is a ‘first generation’ iPad. Recently, because I hadn’t been ridiculed by a teenager for a while, I took it to the Apple Store for some advice. The child who helped me was amazed that I still had one, described it as vintage. It is less than 5 years old. It does what I need it to do and it will not be replaced until it completely breaks.
Which of course it will. All stuff now is made with a limited shelf life.
I have thought for a while that things don’t last as long as they used to. I have a Kenwood Chef that is 37 years old. I use it every week. I guess that makes it vintage. It was made to last. Now things are no longer built to last. The are built to break. Just seen this – is this the longest lasting cooker? Bought in 1963 and used every day until recently when it finally broke beyond repair.
If it is not designed to break after a few years then the corporations will design a new version and advertise it as the new must have.
Consumers dump the old style one in order to have the newest and most fashionable so that they don’t look different. They need to fit in and be normal.
aka my stuff is old and crappy and even if it works just fine Imust have a new one.
Of course, I am not nearly clever enough to have thought all this up by myself.
The credit for this cleverness has to go to The Story of Stuff. I came across this series of films a while back when writing De Clutter please for your kids but today was the first time I really listened to it. And truly this needs to be shown at prime time every day for a week. It won’t of course because the governments and corporations will be exposed for their greed and lies.
Wait, haven’t we been exposed for their greed and lies already? And we are still buying into all this crap?
Yes we are.
I bought into all this, I was building my career during The Thatcher Years, I didn’t
really have a choice know I had a choice. I got married, had a baby and bought my first home all in the matter of two years in the mid 80’s. I was fed a diet of Dynasty and Dallas and Thirty Something. I wanted the house, the family, the lifestyle. I wanted to be Hope Steadman.
I was in a managerial role and sending my daughter to daycare (even when she had chickenpox). No one at work knew I was a mom. No photos on the desk, I was suited and booted, so career driven so that I, with my husband, could buy a bigger house. And fill it with stuff.
The chance to jump off that treadmill came along when the first redundancy hit us.
Do we sell the house and go travelling or look for another job?
Maybe move nearer family so that when the children were ill we didn’t have to take time off work and a relative could care for them. Really, that was what the conversation was like. We chose the latter. We bought a five bed house for three of us. Did it up. Rag rolled and sponged everywhere. Had another child five years later (I had been made redundant so it seemed a good time to do so, no time off work). Moved to a six bedroomed house that was ‘in need of modernisation’ and lived on a building site for six months.
Seven redundancies and 30 years of paying off debt in the form of credit cards and mortgages because we chose the lie
Now, when I read blogs by Ytravelblog and World Travel Family, who educate their children on the road, I regret not doing it. I made excuses, and still do. There was no Google when our children were young we would have had to haul books with us was the excuse I used for not taking my 3 year old travelling. Now of course we happily haul a heavy laptop with us everywhere. And at 3, did she need loads of books?
I wish we had not wondered what we would do when we came back. If we came back. Yet life is not for what ifs. I cannot change the past.
Which is why when we got a second bite at the cherry we ate the whole bunch. Took the money and went on a journey.
If you think you cannot go, ask yourself, what is stopping you?
“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.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
People I was lucky to be able to go off for 5 months around the world.
No I wasn’t. I made it happen, it wasn’t luck it was planning. I saw the opportunity and made it happen. If I had waited longer it may not have happened as my mom had been diagnosed with an untreatable condition, yet she still encouraged me to make the trip. She stayed alive long enough to hear about what we did and who we met and where we went. She was one of the few that were genuinely interested. I wrote about this in the post Go Travelling While You Can.
When Mom died I was sure of the poem I wanted read at her funeral.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.Robert Frost
She too was a traveller, and took the road less travelled by, often.
So what are you waiting for?
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring