It's official: in five days, I will officially have been unemployed for six months. Well, not unemployed exactly because that implies I would like to be employed by someone else. I suppose what I mean is that I no longer have a full-time job where someone pays me to sit at a desk for eight hours a day while I pay someone else to cook my meals and walk my dog. Though I do have my little side business baking dog treats, the point of this endeavor wasn’t ever to launch into another high stress, low reward busy-ness. The point is to spend some time slowing down, figuring out how we can live our lives differently.
My husband sent me an article this morning that is essentially about the choices individual Americans would need to make in order to live more sustainably. The argument is rooted in the idea that energy costs are going to continue to go up because the currently available options are: 1) hard to reach, hard to process oil in out of the way places, 2) options that will eventually cook us (i.e. nuclear) or 3) “green” choices like wind and solar that will not produce enough energy to meet current demand. And while “not enough to meet current demand” seems like a conversation ender for a lot of people, it seems to me that by making different choices as individuals, we can significantly reduce our demand—maybe even to the point that wind and solar are sufficient for household energy needs. That of course doesn’t cover transportation as it won’t meet the liquid fuel needs of our current demand for car travel, but there are ways to address that as well.
For my husband and I, living our lives differently has required lots of adjustments. The ones I can see right now are financial, but I’m sure there will be others. For us at least, the transportation question is going to be an easy one. Now that I have quit my job and will no longer be commuting twenty miles each way to work every day, our gas needs will be dramatically reduced from what they have been. If we decide at some point that I need a new job, I will be searching for one or trying to create one much nearer to our home. For my husband, who works for the government, there are incentives to take public transportation. The main one is that one of his benefits is a transit subsidy. He rides free (when his schedule permits) from our house to his work via a train and a shuttle bus that his agency provides.
I’ve recently found it funny that at any given time, a majority or near majority of Americans think the country is “headed in the wrong direction,” but that most don’t seem inclined to do anything differently personally in order to reverse course. I’m just at the start of my journey of how to think differently about my life. So far, it has involved thinking about how to adjust to a lower level of spending in order to be able to quit my job.
I’m sure there will be plenty more.