The Blog

Basic Instincts and Bare Necessities

How many of us are only one short step away from a disastrous life-changing event whether it be loss of a job, a loved one, an accident, repossessed house, illness. We can never be sure what is coming round that next bend but are we prepared? How can we be?

Those who've arrived at this post expecting a disposition on Sharon Stone uncrossing her pantie-less legs that somehow relates to Baloo the Bear warbling in the jungle, I'm sorry, for you will be disappointed. I really only want to query how far we have strayed off this skewered path we call Life in search of what? Well, you tell me, happiness, wealth, health, security? Can you have one without the other and can you have them all? That's an easy answer, you can't have it all. The Unexpected gets in the way. Michael Schumacher, Stephen Hawking and Christopher Reeve (from Superman to wheelchair) to name but three celebrities who couldn't have it all. Because of the Unexpected.. Schumacher's wealth now means his family can afford the $100,000 a week it takes to provide the finest medical care but I am sure they would swap his fortune for a clean bill of health any day. Their Life priorities have changed due to a simple twist of fate.

How many of us are only one short step away from a disastrous life-changing event whether it be loss of a job, a loved one, an accident, repossessed house, illness. We can never be sure what is coming round that next bend but are we prepared? How can we be? Many of us are overworked, overlooked, over stimulated, overspent. Me, I'm over it. So I'm over here, (Spain). Shouldn't we be looking to simplify our life in this complex technological world, as you know as well as I do that all we are doing is playing catch up. And you will never catch up. Its all designed that way. So you will live with a constant craving for something that is tantalisingly just out of reach, you are the donkey reaching vainly for the carrot as you stumble along. I've worked alongside paupers and millionaires and one thing is for sure the more wealth these guys/gals have, their capacity for full happiness become less as their criteria for enjoyment scales up. In Morocco I met guys who would shut up their three sqm shop early because...they had made enough money to feed their family that night. Tomorrow was another day that, inshallah, would look after itself. Simple life, simple attitude, simply happy.

Many of us are members of a not so elite SAS squad, by that I mean Short Attention Span, not gung ho, superfit, superskilled soldiers. In fact quite the opposite. We digest information more rapidly than ever, assimilate it then move on. I am as guilty as the next man/woman as I scan/scroll through five online papers before breakfast whereas years ago I would spend a good half hour with a quality paper admiring writing quality and content. I feel we have a big Commitment issue these days whether it's to a cause, a thought, a passion, a relationship, a job etc. Life is fleeting and evolving more rapidly than ever, so is it any wonder we are constantly adapting, upgrading, and trying to keep up with mythical Jones's? However we move on, we still have those basic instincts deep within our DNA, the nurturing mother, the male provider, the need to be needed, to know our role. With progress a lot of these roles have been turned on their heads. We don't need to hunt and forage or grow food, that's done for us. We don't need to build a shelter, that's done for us. We don't need to work. Oh, hold on, yes we do, to be able to afford the other two. There's the crux. Its become unhealthy and unbalanced. However many, many people are caught in the trap, many, many people are unaware it is a trap. It just is Life as they know it. Gotta stop being a Human Doing and be a Human Being.

Some forward thinking people have taken a step back to prioritise what is important in their lives. They could be back-to-the-land pioneers or members of the growing (especially in the States) Tiny House movement. I especially like the Tiny House guys and gals who usually live in no more than 30 sq metre living environment, which more times than not they have constructed themselves at low cost. This space allows no waste or clutter as it is precisely functional without being too cramped, as usually it is on a decent plot of land with the Great Outdoors awaiting you. They most definitely are using green energy, grow their own food and exist -rather than subsist -in a world of their own making. I take my hat off to them. It's obviously not practical for everybody but it is eminently sensible and not way beyond our means to achieve. This generation right now needs 15-20 years graft to be able to afford the DEPOSIT on an overpriced rabbit hutch.

We can't all make that drastic move away from a modern society because we have a mortgage to pay, our children to feed and clothe and get into the appropriate schools. Many of us have to play by somebody else's rules, conform to someone else's expectations, dance to the Devil's beat, so to speak. To quote the Fresh Prince philosopher Will Smith "Everyone is running a con. You choose your clothes, choose what you say and where you are going not based on who YOU are. You choose the things you choose to have the outcome you want. You hide the parts of yourself that you don't like. You accentuate the parts you do like then you make up some things to pretend you're someone you are not in order to achieve the goals". Despite his success, he also admits that at times he can feel like a scared five year old. Our self confidence is our fragile shield. Our basic necessities remain the same as ever. We need love, companionship, food, warmth, shelter and health. So they might be basic and necessary but our means of obtaining them adequately become ever more difficult through crass manipulation, thwarted aspiration and constant perspiration. Result = frustration. The Tiny House movement has taken stock, taken a step back and re-evaluated what is important and essential to a general feeling of well being then re-adjusted, mentally, physically and financially.

During your life you accumulate a ton of tat, treasure and trash but is all of it "practical and beautiful" which is my girlfriend's logic for keeping stuff. If not you might consider a downsize or a de-clutter which not only empties cupboards but simultaneously clears a cluttered brain. I once employed a professional who arrived with bin bags and boxes at the ready to my overstuffed terrace house and within two hours had re-evaluated my possessions, re-arranged them and cleared out the excess. She waltzed (not literally) out of the door with boxes and bags filled to the brim. As I breathed a sigh of relief at being unencumbered with unnecessary objects, I realised she was probably off to the nearest car boot to perform an alchemical trick to turn my tat back into treasure (wads of cash). Oh well, a small price to pay for a bit more clarity. It freed my mind and attitude before I made bigger changes to my life. So find out what works for you. Start on a cupboard and work from there!