The simple life
The balance of certainty and our inherent ability to be so consistently and comprehensively distracted.
Whenever I meet someone who I think has it all worked out I try to find answers. A formula to help me find happiness, adventure or fulfilment to replicate their journey.
He was an Aussie boy working in remote mines in Northern Canada, she was a school teacher from Canada. They fell in love, travelled for a while then saved their pennies and went after their dream to settle on an adorable farm. They wanted to have a go at the simple life. So they bit down and made it happen in a simply stunning old logging town. The level of commitment to getting through the many social, cultural and financial road blocks they came across shouldn't be underestimated. They aimed, shot and hit the target with the precision of a sniper.
When we arrived, up the long grassy driveway up to the cottage we were welcomed by Mikey. He approached us with a warm smile to have a chat, show us around the simple cottage and tell us the history of the farm. He split logs for our fire while chatting away in his flannelette shirt.
After our first crisp night we fell in love with the farm, the fresh air and the daily kookaburra wake-up-call. We became fascinated with Allexa and Mike's path.
There appeared a question. A question we have all, in excitement answered too quickly only to dilute the answer down to a 'we will as soon as we save up enough / finish this / sort out that'.
Could we throw away our current situation, run away to this perfect place, get adorable jobs and live simply and happily?
It was a very attractive scenario on first inspection (and largely on all subsequent and future inspections too).
Before long we had become friends with Allexa and Mike. They didn't make it hard to feel like we had known them since... Forever ago.
This was an opportunity to understand their journey.
Had Allexa and Mike found the magic happy lifestyle formula?
Over the next few days we got to know each other. We discussed the daily routines they had to follow in order have their postcard perfect lifestyle among the giant Kari trees. Eventually, we were able to apply our own perspective, needs and values to assess whether their amazing life was something we could consider replicating.
Alexis and I determined (over some local wine) that we could definitely give it a go but soon would start to miss things. Things we knew we take for granted living within a stones-throw of the center of Sydney. Cheap groceries, shops that are open until midnight, regular public transport 3 minutes away from our front door. There was even the 'nice to have' things like restaurants with less-than-simply-meat-removed-same-price vegetarian options and great coffee just about everywhere. Oh! And of course that other thing... Our extensive family and friendship networks.
Allexa and Mike, in my opinion, are an exception to the rule.
They are brilliant, positive and unshakable in their choice. People like them have the psychological capacity to balance the financial, cultural and social boundaries elements to complete a mission like a fully blown 'tree change'. Furthermore, they have at some point, knowingly or not, mastered the art of balancing certainty in execution and avoiding distraction.
They are adaptive. They have maintained vital sensibilities and direction while making this fundamental change to just about every aspect of their lives. The have used their tenacity to BALANCE the complex problems that have blocked them along the way. If you think for a second they didn't have a few left over screws and some rubbish to throw out after they assembled that skit högen of a coffee table you are mistaken. They just grabbed the extra bits and probably made some adorable wall hanging out off it. Because they are that amazing.
I asked them, what was a biggest challenge on the way to buying the farm and living 'the simple life'?
Allexa responded with an obviously modest and unsurprisingly humble positivity.
"Truthfully it was trying to find exactly what we wanted. We had never been farmers before or really even lived off the land so it made it difficult to pin point what we needed. When we started our search years prior when we lived in Canada, the plan was to move to the East coast, we thought that was where we wanted to be".
It was clear to me at this point that their bulldog-like clench on the end goal had put blinders on them creating a growing amount of certainty as attachments to their pre-farm lives severed away.
With this in mind I asked, How did you overcome it?
"Constant perseverance and open minds allowed the property to find us. The farm we ended up buying and now call home wasn't even in an area we targeted. On a whim we went on a camping trip to an area we went once before and basically we followed our instincts."
We can't all be like all like Allexa and Mike. But, I understand that we should all try very fucking hard to learn from their ability to balance the changing elements of their lives as they strove for their goal to live the simple life in Pemberton.
These days we are bombarded with advice, messaging and choices. Only a thin few of us have the attention spans to stay on such a certain path as the one in this story. Even fewer can do it without stopping the car at every bloody fruit stand and service station because they won't risk seeing if there is one further down the road just in case.
Living with certainty and balance is not easy. Certainty is the plan, the destination or the outcome. When you start making detours and roadside stops that's when distraction starts setting in. If you resist distractions you may run out of fuel or need to pee really bad causing discomfort. If you keep driving you will have to battle those urges but you will get there in good time. If you fight the urge because you are certain you need to stick to the plan you will drive past the service station. Maybe you will even run out of fuel and roll to a gentle stop outside a cute farm that just so happens to be in your price range.
does the lack of distraction and embracing limitation make for a far more satisfying achievement?
For example, try going vegan for a day. You will have far less choice at the supermarket. You will be unable to order from most menus and you will even have your coffee differently.
You can choose to be disappointed with the selection or be excited about simplicity of choice.