Whilst it is an attractive prospect for life to be one long holiday, getting up late, relaxing in the sun, reading books, playing cards, walking along the beach/up the hill/etc. Is that really a longer-term proposal? At what stage might boredom set in? When one is working furiously for 45 weeks a year those holiday periods are very precious down times whether they are spent relaxing or doing something completely different, albeit exhausting. Retired friends seem to have filled their lives to the brim to the extent of almost universally stating that they don’t know how they ever had time to work. How long before that novelty wears off? In order to do much more than drift through the days some income is required: going for a drink, need to pay, going out on the moped(?) – pay, having a meal out – pay, socialising with friends – pay, surf the net – pay. With more time on our hands the need to have money to assist activity can increase.
Some form of labour has several benefits, the most obvious being income, even if fairly meagre, to allow for those little expenses which we may take for granted in our current lives but would feel more extravagant if rarer. Time is an expensive commodity in our high speed society; in this alternative lifestyle time may be the one element of which we would have plenty, possibly too much if we are limited with what we can do with it due to lack of finances. The absence of labour saving devices may result in domestic tasks taking considerably longer; my Mother used to need 2 mornings a week to complete the washing in a twintub. This transformation may be difficult to assimilate initially, even self-confessed couch potatoes may find the novelty wears pretty thin after a time.
The intensity of living together in isolation could challenge any relationship, we have not even lived in the same house let alone county in our 10 years together due to family and employment circumstances. How would our relationship cope if we were together 24/7 with minimal comforts and possibly little contact with others? Work does provide us with a framework for our time but also interaction with colleagues and/or customers who would enable us to get to know an area, offer a social circle and provide an alternative recipient and subject of our conversation. What would happen to our own dialogue if we didn’t interact with someone or something else besides each other? Would we resort to primitive grunts from a lack of necessity for anything further? If we were employed we may even need to learn another language which is the polar opposite.
We would certainly aim to develop interests which would not have a cost attached. Sleeping all day is cheap and whilst at this moment seems very attractive, (more so to one of us!) part of that attraction is the lack of opportunity. There is only so long one can just sit in the sun for its own sake. I’ll admit that I would want to do that for longer than my skin would allow but once my vitamin D stock was replenished I suspect I’d get a bit bored. The prospect of being able to read as many books as I could devour is immensely appealing but from where would my supply originate? We could encourage a book swap but that would require a source of English print; Kindles would only be feasible with a power supply and if broken down would be final. We can be quiet avid card players, we have spent many hours absorbed in deeply competitive cribbage but only as a novelty when time has permitted, usually on holiday. We’ve tried to learn canasta but didn’t get bitten by the bug and bridge really doesn’t work with 2 people.
Walking in beautiful natural surroundings has an everlasting appeal. The subtle changes afforded by the weather or seasons can be marvellous to observe and with successive years, the same season still brings variations, but then we would need more frequently replaced footwear – unless it was a sandy beach all the time. Beach-combing! There’s a great past-time and whilst not bringing in income the shores can deliver a myriad of treasures in the flotsam and jetsam of the high seas.
Some form of work could also offer a degree of self-fulfilment or satisfaction, even if it is only producing a clean room or a timely delivered and much appreciated pizza. Having worked in health care, education and the service industry we are both used to having a positive impact on peoples’ lives, not necessarily all the time but it only takes a few positive occasions to remind us why we do the jobs we do. That could be a difficult reward to relinquish but we may not have to depending on what we can find to do. Helping a friend or a stranger can still elicit a pleasurable sensation, perhaps more so if there is no monetary reward.
The less we needed to draw from our reserves the longer we would be able to afford to sustain this lifestyle. Some employment, whether paid in cash or kind, would be hugely advantageous to enable us to explore and develop both ourselves and potentially the world. If we were able to survive a significant period of time with minimal material needs, making the most of our natural environment, (even a vegetable patch!) I can’t help feeling that we could do anything and go anywhere. Is money and capitalism really the scourge of humanity? Am I turning into a passive eco-warrior or a Buddhist?