Where are you living right now?
Do you like it? Is it 7 or 8 or even 9 out of 10, but you think 10/10 might be on offer somewhere else?
The endless yearning for greener grass seems to be an all-too-common symptom of “civilised” urban living in the 21st century. We’ve all got somewhere else in our sights, seated by inexplicably ubiquitous confidence that circumstantial improvement is guaranteed to be on the horizon for us... just not here! But somewhere! Is this just the human condition? Perpetual dissatisfaction and blind faith that we could, or we should have it better than we’ve got it?
I wonder about this. Loathe though I am to admit it, I notice this as a pattern in myself constantly. My situational appreciation rides an oscillating wave between suffering Sydney as a veritable urban jungle, to remembrance of the fact that actually Sydney city is an idyllic beachside paradise and I am so incredibly lucky to have called it home for most of my life. I guess it’s entirely dependant on my headspace: the wrong day in Manly is an untenably overcrowded environmental nightmare, the right day in Manly is a gleeful reminder of the vast distances people travel to temporarily sample a dream I have come to simply expect as a baseline.
So I suppose what I’m getting at is simple relativity. That’s at the bottom of it all, right? I’m thinking about all this in context of another recurring theme I’ve noticed in the midst of escalating climatic unpredictability, insofar as the serious challenges being imposed upon a lot of rural Australians. And by serious challenge, I mean entire towns facing eviction, their use of resources no longer justifiable as deemed by the powers that be.
Entire towns! Such a psycho reality. I mean how would you feel about being booted from your current living arrangements? Probably a bit cheesed off to begin with, but might it actually be a cool opportunity to transplant yourself to the far-flung destination of your dreams? One door closing, forcing another, better one to open?
I’m telling myself that’s how I would reconcile it, but the people in these towns... well, they’re not having a bar of it!
Story after story I read about isolated settlements dwindling to shadows of their former populations, facing imminent and enforced evacuation, yet characterised by residents who simply can’t fathom the concept of an equivalent life elsewhere. Let alone any better!
These are dusty places where the mercury rarely dips below 40 at this time of year, where tap water runs brown and in limited supply, where feral animals destroy agricultural livelihoods already hampered by bushfire and endless drought. And yet, to my utter bemusement, the people residing in these places have zero interest in living anywhere else. So what’s going on??
I reckon something unique is occurring here. Something beyond the admirable bushie stoicism that we so love our Australia to be represented by.
You see, to me this is producing a remarkable paradox. We in the city, with our information overload and endless opportunity, constantly searching for something more; contrasted against those in rural towns, with quiet lives of perseverance and limited horizons, simply refusing the prospect that a better life might be elsewhere. Strange, right? I want to know why this is.
Currently my theory is that with such limited input, our bushie brethren are living peaceful lives of what is essentially constant meditation. Think about it. The same routine every day, decade after decade, with the same small handful of people and inputs, and minus the constant attention traps of techno-city life... just imagine the time you’d have, to spend deliberately allocating your thoughts to the relevant boxes of your mind, how organised the desktop of your brain would become.
Wouldn’t it just be amazing to be able to measure all this mindfulness stuff one day, rather than just anecdotally hypothesise philosophical equations for the quality of life. Because if what I’m suggesting holds any merit at all, well it would be a real game changer for understanding and managing community mental health. One day!
Anyway, I explored all of this in my most recent podcast, embedded again below for your listening leisure. And beneath that is a list of links to a number of stories on the ABC’s Environment News portal - have a poke and decide for yourself but I deadset reckon I’m onto something
This is the story I read out
And this is the specific town in SA - Mintabie - that I poorly referenced
and the thing about insurance
and a few more