I’m finding myself starting to slip back into old habits a little these days, and it’s frustrating.
From not standing firm with people who insist on buying me takeout, to settling for plastic-packaged food when I could get it in glass. I think part of it was losing my job, but the other part was, surprisingly enough, having been able to afford the nice things that the ZW lifestyle generally requires.
The Hedonic Treadmill had me, and good. Doing ZW with money was satisfying because it was a constant state of progression toward a goal. I was able to acquire things that would serve me for years to come: good quality luggage that I didn’t have before, reusable stainless tumblers, glass jars, a composter, and a few other things. When I said that unemployment was the real test, I guess I really wasn’t kidding. I knew it’d be a financial challenge, but I had no idea how much of a mental challenge it would be too.
Without money, there’s been a forced plateauing in my ultimate goal of being as close to landfill waste-free and downcyclable waste-free as possible. Instead of constantly being on the lookout for new reusable items to add to my arsenal, I’m finding that the nervous energy that propels my compulsive shopping has to go somewhere else otherwise I’ll be tempted to act on it. And wow, do not underestimate the power of that nervous energy.
This past weekend was my first without a paycheck, and all in all, I had a really great time. On saturday I went with my mom and rode bikes along Newport Beach, stopping to nap on the sand with a towel and then spent the evening with family. On sunday, I went on a 7-mile hike with my dad in Topanga canyon and scouted out a hike-in campground for us to use someday soon, when I’m ready to start putting my ZW backpacking chops to the test. I didn’t feel compelled to spend money at all that weekend because my energy was being put toward enjoying myself outdoors.
Can I apply that understanding to myself more often? It would be hard, but I could definitely try.
Reading is another thing that keeps my monkey-mind at bay. I suppose I could start taking advantage of the local library again– I was there almost every day before being hired for my last job. Gardening helps too. So does walking, cooking, etc.
I guess if I just learned to keep myself busy more strategically, I could create a very healthy series of routines for myself.
I think, too, that the other reason for my plateau is that it feels like I can only do so much while renting a room in someone else’s house, especially someone who is a burgeoning hoarder and produces vast amounts of waste. It’s very, very easy to feel defeated at every turn, that every effort you make to improve yourself and your environment is being consistently undone twice-over.
Don’t really have much more to add other than that achieving simplicity and a more sustainable lifestyle is an uphill battle–for me at least–and that, like a yoga teacher said once in a class, true balance is an active operation, not one of complete stillness and rigidity. It’s always going to be at least a little work.