‘Are you nuts?’ was one – ‘Aww, I want, too’ was the other extreme reaction. Still, undeterred, in 2014 we moved away from the city Brisbane to the lonely bush of the idyllic Northern Rivers in NSW, Australia. Why?
Let’s see. Well, who doesn’t love a good traffic jam, or pushing into soft sweaty bodies at full packed shopping centers? Who doesn’t need plastic Monster Barbie dolls, glaring in pink and yellow, wearing candy colors like big city neon signs? And the safe and solitary anonymity among neighbors? Why would we ever want to leave that? Not to mention long queues. You got to love a good queue, or the calming, steady city traffic hum. And oh man, what will we ever do without exhaust fumes at traffic lights? Oh, Traffic lights? Don’t get me started. How I miss the thousand beautiful twinkling traffic lights… Sniff.
I am not sure if you can tell, but if you can’t let me spell it out. For a few years now I had the slight suspicion that we are sick. All of us. As a society. And every time I make the mad decision to visit someone in the city, it seems to get confirmed. I not only come to regret the drive the minute I get closer to Brisbane getting stuck in traffic jams, but I also exclaim (and my daughter is my witness): ‘Are we mad? This is crazy!’ Every time. When I watch both sides of the highway, 8 lanes of stuckness, at best ‘stop and go’, I simply can’t comprehend why we would do this to ourselves. Regularly. People do this every day. Every day? I can’t… I can’t underst-…
No, we seem to have a sickness, accepting voluntary slavery, happily following the queue into a packed system of 2 Million people? Slow, I might mention. I can’t see it sustainable. To be that cut off from nature. And freedom. And sanity.
Anyway, 2013/2014 I got so fed up with it all, I planned to move to the country (actually return to where I had lived 8 years before). To live the simple life. To grow my own veggies, live on a farm and run a country cafe. I couldn’t stand the concrete jungle anymore. With its garbage, the pressure of buying the same stuff as the neighbors or neighbor kids had bought, and the overall expectation of joining the rat race. The thoughts about fitting in, about ‘making it’, ‘having it’ were too thick and dense; I couldn’t hear my own thoughts anymore. So, instead of complying we rebelled and my daughter and I left for the bush. Which rather felt like coming home. Internally and externally.
Now, looking around my house and outside my window seeing trees, a mountain, birds, wallabies, and my veggie garden, all that’s left of the city are the remnants of the old era. Still hanging around, loitering, hiding in corners and boxes, ready to pounce. An army of Little Pet Shop figurines, stuffed mercenaries (beanie boo’s, ever heard of those?), extravagant doll palaces (ok, they’re cool, I made them), and an entire Monster High Empire. They’re waiting for me to be sorted and given away, as a signpost that our sick consumerism has finally left the system. We only had to wait for my daughter to emotionally mature to let the stuff go. And for me to take the time to actually post it online, or create a solstice bonfire event. Seeing the junk, a cemetery of plastic and nonsense, filling out the dungeons of the house (the really dark corners), I have the constant longing to declutter, to use a chainsaw, to stomp on, or at least, let’s be reasonable, to give things away. And lucky me, my daughter is finally ready. She is willing to let go. Unless Barbie dolls become a future currency (I’m sure Mattel wouldn’t mind). Come to think of it, maybe we should hang on to some dolls… Like Twyla, daughter of the Boogey Man, or Frankie, daughter of Frankenstein.
Is it a good idea to mention my own boxes filled with precious junk? My rows of storage shelves in the garage? I admit it doesn’t help to be a notorious collector of kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, utensils, and crockery. I understand. I also admit that having two rooms full of art supplies doesn’t help me making my point. But hey, really, this is not related to the issue at hand: having too much stuff. Right? Yes, the longer I think about it, I find this is off topic. – Huh? – Shush!
No, since we live in the Australian bush it is all different. All of it – (haha, good joke). Well, we traded cleanliness for roaches, skinks (small fickle lizards that have no clue you trying to help when chasing them out of the house), and spiders. BIG spiders. We grow or buy local organic veggies (and buy junk in close towns). We have no proper TV receptions (therefore watch movies online). We have crap internet (so we have relatives download stuff for us). We made new friends, rekindled old relationships and enjoy being part of a community that actually gives a damn.
One last thing regarding watching TV: I seem to connect watching TV and its advertising insanity of mass programming and dumbing down with the city, so we’re more than happy to have no reception. And my daughter has not expressed one wish for a plastic toy or been tempted via TV ads or neighbor and school kids to make me buy one. Even her Steiner school doesn’t cultivate computers in their classrooms – nope, it’s all like 50 years ago, innocent, colorful, and woody natural. No plastic.
And now that it’s Christmas? This year we do not get any presents. Well, an archery lesson and a wooden carved pencil holder hardly count, right? Not, if compared to the heap of sometimes useless presents I usually collected for my child, spending hundreds of dollars. No, we’re fine with a downsized Christmas. We truly have everything, especially ants. And honest to god, we do not need ONE more thing. Well, maybe ice cream. For inexplicable reasons I always need ice cream.
Hmmm, scratch that.
My daughter, just looking over my shoulder, said: ‘I want an X-box’.