Kurt has been away on his sabbatical for five days now and we have magnanimously told him that if he does decide that the simple life away from the city suits him better, we won’t stand in his way if he decides to stay longer.
It crossed my mind when I accompanied him up to Byron that a short escape into anonymity would do me good, too. I’m sure we can all identify points in our lives where we’ve wanted to drop everything, escape and do some serious soul-searching. Not to Byron, necessarily – albeit a wonderful enclave to lose yourself to introspection and gain a better insight into what really matters in your life – just somewhere where I could re-invent myself for a short while.
I can see myself shacked up with some crusty, middle-aged surfer in a crumbling beach house, with peeling paint, shells for ornaments and a fine layer of sand coating its distressed floorboards. He would get up at dawn to be at one with the ocean, he’d have chickens in the backyard, a preference for shagging on his surfboard and earn a secondary living growing crops in the hinterland. I can see myself turning my hand to organic fart food, making dream catchers for a living to sell at market at the weekend and living off love alone.
And from a physical perspective, my body could really work a kaftan now.
Sometimes, when I allow myself to forget about the superficial, material stuff I depend on so much for my happiness these days, the simple life is truly appealing. A different way of living has become more appealing as the wisdom of middle-age has evolved and taught me the irony of my long-held belief that money holds all the answers; Now that I actually have money in my purse, I’ve realised that health, happiness and strong relationships are the key to happiness. But most of us now know the health benefits of putting time aside in our busy schedules for a healthier lifestyle, yet realistically, those changes don’t come easily, not without compromise and cutting our cloth accordingly.
So, perhaps the best way to start is by redefining what the ‘luxuries’ in our life have become now. Because mine have changed over time; and most of what I see as ‘luxuries’ these days don’t cost very much.
‘Stress’ has the most negative impact on my health and happiness, so my ‘luxuries’ are anything that combats that. Having the time for exercise, being able to buy healthy food, affording the time to lose myself in relaxation or spend time with friends and family top my list now.
The old man and I have cropped some of the luxuries from our lives over the past few years. We’ve worked out what our priorities for happiness are, and fortunately we agree (mostly) on what they are. So his golf club membership doesn’t really fit the idealism of our new simpler life, but frankly those precious few hours he’s on the course increase the levels of my happiness tanks enough to make it worth it; and I never said we were perfect. But we have moved from the big house and downsized to an apartment and the old man has cleared out the belongings that he felt were superfluous to our needs *sob* and watches even more closely what we spend *sigh*.
We’re don’t have the right to feel smug just yet – nothing makes me feel better than an impulsive therapy session at the mall when I’m feeling low – but we’re easing closer to the goal.
Obviously, I couldn’t possibly take the old man to Byron with me, though. As bald as a coot, he wouldn’t be able to grow dreadlocks for starters, has always looked very silly in beanies and his beard is an embarrassing shade of Antique White when he grows it out; so he tends to look more salty sailor than sexy surfer.
And he’s just not chill enough. He would moan about where the meat was in my bean stews, question what the fuck Chia was, would grieve for Foxtel, has always steadfastly refused to commit to yoga and certainly wouldn’t see the point in walking along the beach at twilight. Unfortunately, his idea of relaxation still encompasses watching back-to-back golf championships on television and getting pizza delivered by our local pizza restaurant, even though it is only 200m away.
But Rome wasn’t built in a day…