23 June 2007

Self-sufficiency and Stress

The week past has been a journey back in time, back in psyche and spirit, back into a world I no longer inhabit.  It's been a worthwhile journey, sharpening my understanding of just how far outside the circle I have managed to wander.  A week performing a "code audit" of a large-ish software system.

Basically this means analysing the software using a variety of techniques and tools, knowing where to look for likely problem areas, and then writing a report on what you think of the whole mess.  Too many hours sitting chained to a PC so that the job gets completed "on time" -- whatever that means.  Too little time being physically active in the garden; too little time doing the myriad of small things that need doing around the farm; too time spent solving real challenges.  But it will bring in a little bit of money, so...

A new blog I just tripped across -- After Peak Oil: Awakening:
we had thought about "the good life" some years previously, but shelved our ideas since it felt like we would be giving ourselves additional stress and complications in return for some fanciful daydream about keeping chickens and the like.
The additional stress and complication?  Well, complication, yes.  But stress?  Looking back on the last decade of my life, I guess I have to acknowledge that there was stress involved in moving from a 9-to-5-pension-medical-annual-holiday existence to our somewhat-self-sufficient life.  Most of that stress was money stress.  Initially the stress of "where's the money going to come from", through the stresses of letting go of "normal" expectations around the "normal" flow of money in-and-out every month, every year, to my present state where, while I think its fun to have and use money, and its useful stuff for a limited number of purposes, I don't really feel it touches me any more.  Not in the way that most of humanity is hooked into the Conventional Money System.  Trapped in it, really.

But really, I think we Braamekraalies suffer far less from stress than ever before in our lives, and the reason is really very simple:
Human Beings are not built for single-tasking.

We evolved out on The African Plains, wary for the multitude of predators that think we make a tasty midday snack, keeping a sharp eye out for our own lunch.  We are intensely social monkeys who constantly touch, taste, see, hear, smell, constantly challenged, constantly problem-solving.  We are not well suited, physically, emotionally, psychologically or spiritually, to the low-input environment, the repetetive tasks provided by office jobs and suburban life in front of the desk, TV and steering-wheel.  Subjected to that sort of existence, we begin to break down.  To suffer stress.

Simply put, a self-sufficient lifestyle (at whatever level) keeps us challenged, interested, awake and alive.  The sheer variety of tasks that we face is the important thing, here.  Our brains and bodies are well adapted to variety.  Need it, in fact.

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