Quiet Riot

Rosy, me and The Girl facing a stiff on-shore breeze. 
Photo by Posy

We have just spent three days at the beach with no internet. I read three novels, we all slept a lot, and played stupid games, like sports trivia quiz, which was very funny because none of us knows the first thing about sport. We watched a movie. We lay on the beach and read, clambered over rocks, lay in bed and listened to the rain. The girls all went swimming in the freezing cold ocean and I... minded the towels.

Earlier this week the deep-thinking and adventurous suburban homesteader Wendy wrote about The Riot for Austerity challenge I set for myself, and called it The Quiet Riot. I like that. Here we are in the suburbs, a little quiet family, beavering away at reducing our consumption to help make it possible for us all to have a quietly fulfilling life on this little blue-green jewel of a planet into the future. And all over the cities and the suburbs and in the countryside all over the world other families are doing the same. And together our quiet rioting may chip away at the huge monolith of consumerism. Of course, it may make only the tiniest little dint in the bottom left-hand corner. But if you are going to topple a monolith, you have to start somewhere.

One of the reasons I want to do this is because when people say that it is impossible to live with less I want to be able to put up my hand and say, "Um, actually it isn't. See?"

Another reason is to become both more dependent and independent and creative. Limits force us to be creative, to try new things, to think our way around problems, to ask around, to rely on our communities, to learn how to make, mend and reuse and look at life in new and different ways.

And yet another reason is that I want to have a stab at not being a 21st century-living-in-a-bubble-of-privilege softie. You see I am generally the person who chooses not to swim in the freezing cold water, or go out in the rain, or stretch myself to my physical limits. I love my creature comforts, as most of us do. But that's really not how our minds and bodies want us to live. We most of us need a bit of a challenge, and this seems as good a way as any to get me out of my high-speed, highway armchair or out from under the hot shower and away from all that tempting fake food that comes wrapped in a packet.. We only have one short life. We might as well do something interesting with it.

And as Wendy pointed out in her Quiet Riot post, consuming less is just more thrifty. My ultimate aim is to work less and spend more time growing strawberries.

So, after driving just over an hour each way to the beach and back, now we will be having a bit of a driving fast for the next few days while we stretch our legs and walk our way through our lists of things to do. And next, I will be tackling the dreaded electricity bill... come and help me quietly riot away at making the next bill the lowest yet.


Tracy said…
I'm totally with you on not swimming in the freezing cold water. Anywhere south of about Cairns is too cold to swim in - the consequences of growing up real close to the equator!

I've been thinking about my dislike of shopping and that childhood near the equator, where there was nothing much to spend your money on. My parents tried to remind me, the other day, of how little "extra" we had. I don't remember. As far as I was concerned I had food, clothes, went to school and had a house to live in. We swam every day because it was the only way to cool down. Maybe we didn't have much, but neither did anyone else, and life was pretty good.

As an adult I hate shopping. Seems like life is so much better without the consumerism focus!
Anonymous said…
You subversive, you.

I think at its heart, this quiet riotous life gives you a life of purpose. More stuff, and yet again more stuff, is not purposeful. No wonder there is so much anxiety and depression. People struggle to find reason to have all this stuff. And they don't find a stillness, a quietness, in the mad accumulation that we need to be centred.

One thing I struggle against is the obscene accumulation of wealth by a small number of individuals. I have watching and reading about the incoming Secretary of State in the US. Ingnorant of educational issues, extremely right wing "Christian" and obscenely wealthy. Family money from Amway. Why continue to buy things that everyone else does so a few can get wealthy?

Unknown said…
I'm also trying to reduce both my footprint and my spending, and finding it much more difficult than I had imagined. My husband is about to retire, so there is really no alternative to spending less, but I have just realised that I am a retail junkie! It takes a real effort to not buy stuff, and I have made shopping into my social life. So I am starting a"buy nothing new" challenge today - for a month, to start with, then maybe 3 months? But less driving is almost impossible in Canberra, unless you have an awful lot of spare time. Everything is so spread-out - apparently, Canberra has the lowest population density of any capital city in the world! So we will sell one of our cars, and try to use the other less by being more organised. And I will keep reading this blog, because you are inspiring!
Jo said…
Tracy, I absolutely hear you - I grew up as a missionary kid in the tropics, and shopping just wasn't an option. So that was one hobby I managed not to acquire, thanks to my upbringing. I think that is such an important point - if we can convince our kids that 'stuff' isn't necessary for a good life, then they will be set up for a life of simple contentment as well.

Lucinda, love this comment. You are so right. A life of purpose is what I am after, and that sense of contentment and stillness is already there - I have everything I could possibly want - now I am going to do it more efficiently:) And I couldn't agree more about buying 'stuff' - I often think about who I am enriching when I buy things, and then decide not to buy those things but think of a better way. Because who wants to further enrich the US Secretary of State??

Hazel, this is a golden opportunity for you to change how you live. Limits have been imposed, and now you need to be creative in how you reshape your retail hobby and your social life. What an interesting challenge!

And selling a car - that is an amazing start. You will save so much. Did you see the driving chart for average kms driven broken down by state in the driving post? The ACT kms seemed awfully high for such a tiny state, but I guess that is why - it is a real challenge to get around.

And the Buy Nothing New Challenge - that is fantastic! Good for you, and keep us updated on your progress:)
PS Pottering around second-hand shops and op-shops is the most relaxing retail therapy I know, especially with a friend:)

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