There is a notion in the world of sustainability and green, that you must live a country life and make everything – and grow everything – and do everything – yourself. I believed it. I read books about moving back to the land, of living self-sufficiently. I learned how to preserve, how to garden at a large scale, how to make cheese, and bake bread daily using our own homemade starter. I began to learn how to sew and knit and truly believed I would learn to make everything I needed in my life.
I was not unhappy. But I was not really happy, either. There was never enough time in the day. I worked very hard doing things that accomplished the basic necessities of life, and no more than that. There is something very pure in that. In fact it was a good way to purify my body – I lost a fair amount of weight, got my asthma in check, and felt good; and to purify my soul – after a rat race of working in the film industry for ten years, working 12-18 hours/day, I needed to unwind. But it was not a lifestyle that ultimately made me happy for the long-term.
I felt isolated. I felt unable to do the things I wanted to do to make the world a better place. I felt lost within day to day living.
It was then that I realized that sustainability meant more than living self-sufficiently, and that simplifying made a lot of sense to me, but for me there is such a thing as living too simply. It may be perfect for you, dear reader. I am in no way saying it is not a good life to lead. But for my own happiness, I’d gone too far down the simple road.
And so I moved back to a mid-sized city, where sustainability was an everyday word – trains and streetcars are returning, the urban center is being revitalized with built-green mixed-use buildings, and people talk unabashedly about changing the world.
In many ways, my lifestyle here is more sustainable. While we spend more money on rent and the cost of living is higher overall, the wages are higher, too, and we don’t spend money on gas. I’m not perfect – I do buy some new clothes to support my professional lifestyle (and try to buy them sustainably), but I also find nice used clothes in local thrift stores. I don’t make my own meals every day – sometimes I purchase locally- and ready-made foods made from organic ingredients instead. I don’t grow all of my own food anymore – but I purchase local and organic foods from local farmers.
I walk nearly everywhere. I’m becoming a part of my community in many ways I could never have done in the country. And I have time to do the things I set out to do in my life: to change the world for the better in a large way. I write this blog (and others), I work with amazing world-changing organizations and corporations in my company, I see my family regularly, and I participate in my community in numerous ways.
These things I could not do in the country, nor could I do them if I lived a totally self-sufficient life. So I am happy with the places I have been, the things I have done, and the lifestyles I have lived. And I am very happy to be living sustainably in the city.
I hope you have found such happiness as well. Have you?