I read an article weeks ago in a weekend supplement in which the author basically said that loads of us are having midlife crises and coming up with plans (which I think they called Jam Jar Dreams) to escape the rat race. Well, with shows like Escape to the Country, A new life in the country was it worth it?, A place in the sun, My family’s crazy gap year, there’s not really any denying many people choose to change their lifestyle when they reach a certain age/acheive a certain pot of money. What about people scheming to make and sell their own cakes for a living, to open a b &b? I think there are several things going on here:
Is it something peculier to our time that people wish to see a return to the good life, to nature, to village community, to simplicity? This can’t be anything new, but are we hankering after it in larger and larger numbers? Are we just becoming more determined to go and get it (even if we have never ourselves lived in the country/a village)? The appeal is obvious – fresh air, friendliness, space, less stress. It’s whether you move there to commute back to real life, or take the plunge into a new lifestyle.
I personally think this has less to do with age and more to do with satisfaction and fulfilment. For many people, gone are the days a job is chosen for security, earnings or status. Now we feel we have so much choice, we have the education, and the freedom to choose. The possibilities are there – great, thanks – what if you don’t want a ‘career’? What if you want to make living your career? What if you want to earn enough to get by but not bust your balls for the sake of money itself? Why not explore ways to combine a hobby or natural talent and self-employment?
What is important to people right now? Of course, survival, of course family, friends, health. Rather what does life mean or what is it starting to mean nowadays? I think a globa consciousness opens up the sense that we are not fixed in our position on the globe. It’s really easy to contemplate moving and setting up in another town, country or continent. We like to be warm, we like the sunshine, we (mostly) like a laid back lifestyle, a reasonable cost of living. We’d be stupid not to think about upping sticks. Mobility it is. Also independence? Without a strong community loyalty, without perhaps needing others as much as we might have in the past, we can afford, practically to leave others behind, cut the cord. More importantly, who wants to spend most of their life at work (unless it’s work they really really love). Working from home, or as part of a family business are ways around this, failing that opting to work part-time is a probable option for this change in life priorities. The things you give up through these kinds of choices – well, acquiring and upgrading things we thing we need/want. Maybe we only think we need/want them because what they have to make up for?
This article I read was a little dismissive of Jam Jar Dreamers, maybe they could only see them as dreams. Some people are disdainful of ideas that seek to undermine traditional societal norms, and values? Maybe they don’t think dreamers will go through with it, maybe they are pessimistic about the success/happiness of the dreamers, maybe they are anxious because they couldn’t go through with it themselves?
There are loads of kids with dreams, dreams of becoming a footballer, a ballerina, a Doctor, a rock star. We’re all about encouraging kids’ dreams, but do we change tack when they reach a certain age? We become concerned with what they are good at, what will be a safe option. This is probably the right thing for parents/adults to do on behalf of the dreaming kids in most cases. In most cases it’ll be kinder to tell them if they can’t sing/dance/kick a ball. In some cases though the sensible option will be the wrong option. I know first hand the reward a life of doing what you’re good at and are cut out for and love rather than what pays the bills or what is accepted by others, brings.
Life, I think is about figuring out this destiny, coming to the truth of who you are and what you’re meant for. How can anything be more important than that?
It seems to me that this trend if you want to call it that to do something different with life, not just in retirement, but young, with your young family, before you have kids, is the new gay.
Johnny: ‘Mom, I have something to tell you…. I’m gay’
Mom: ‘Oh that’s nice dear’
Johnny: ‘and I’ve decided I want to make and sell jam for a living’
Mom: ‘You WHATTTTTT!!!!!!!!!’
This post is dedicated to my Nan, Ollie Catley, who was an optimist, a believer, a rebel.