Waking up to the rat race

22 01 2013

In the months after Beth’s death, we discussed the absurdity of our lives. I can’t being to express the shockwaves that we still feel today as a result of her loss. It’s not about ‘working through it’ or getting ‘over it’, it’s just that your previous framework shatters with such a loss and you start living on a different scale, in a different realm and with a different perspective to those around you. Everything is all so familiar but life itself has changed forever.  Completely.  Utterly.  It’s like living in a parallel universe.  It makes you feel like an alien, an outsider, excluded from the world you live in, unattached, abandoned, misunderstood and strange – in comparison to those who go about their daily lives and don’t see the thick pane of glass you’re stuck behind.

In the months following, it was like we had suddenly woken up to the rat race and the trap we’d slowly become accustomed to.  We didn’t fit any more.  We’d spent years getting up, going to work, earning money to pay for a house and fill it with ‘things’ that we actually didn’t have time to enjoy because we were out early and home late, earning the money to pay for it all. When we sifted through the pieces of our lives and routines left after Beth’s death, we realised all too clearly that it was an absurd way to ‘live’ and really wasn’t living at all. We realised we’d just been existing.

Make each moment count...

Make each moment count…

It seemed so ‘normal’ to be doing that. Everyone around us was in a similar position – with a mortgage and a job that paid the bills.  It was okay enough.  We’d accepted that we’d have to work long and hard to pay off a mortgage so we could retire with a modest amount of savings that would allow us to have ‘a life’. We’d accepted that we weren’t rock stars so we weren’t going to wake up and bound out of bed to a job we absolutely loved.  We’d often talked about the places we’d go and things we’d do once we retired; like travelling, spending time on hobbies, volunteering and creative interests.  I can access my Superannuation account once I turn 65. But what if, like Beth, I don’t make it to 65? We’re working now, saving now and putting off life for some later date that might never come…  It  became all too clear and sad really – looking around and realising that if I died tonight, I really hadn’t done much with my life.  What would I leave? What would I be remembered for? What difference have I made?

It’s all a giant game of risk isn’t it? We just don’t know how long we’ll be here on earth. I might live to be 100, I might die next week. We just don’t know.  Whatever happens, I want to enjoy my days and not just plod through them in some endless ritual. That means I need to enjoy today, enjoy now because that’s all there really is.

changeWe decided to make changes in our lives. We decided to ‘downsize’ and live more simply. The stark light of grief reveals the absurdity of possessions – they really are just things. They’re not that important. Time and people and health are important.  We don’t actually need much ‘stuff’ at all.

The crazy thing is that when I was stuck in the rat race, I knew it. It’s pretty obvious really and I bet you ‘know it’ too.  But does it make you want to do something about it?  Only now does it strike me clearly and strongly enough to take action. The difference for me in knowing it, and knowing it fully is like this.  If you stand in the supermarket and remind yourself that you’re actually naked under your clothes, you know that right?  But, to know it fully means to actually stand in the supermarket naked.  Entirely different perspective isn’t it?  Well that’s where we are, and it’s a tad uncomfortable.  We’re making changes.

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21 responses

22 01 2013
dadirri7

a very big post … fantastic! life Is change, you are choosing life … way to go girl!

22 01 2013
Louise

Yes – a big post to go with a big change, a big move, big decisions. It’s all good because we have decided it will be good, even the ‘bad’ bits. 😉

22 01 2013
Chris

Oh so true Louise – but how many of us actually do anything about it? You have certainly given us something to think about!

22 01 2013
Louise

Well, it certainly dislodged us but maybe we needed it. 🙂 x x

22 01 2013
allthingsboys

What an insightful post. You are right though, there is so much value in enjoying today. To live for a tomorrow that might not come is to cheat ourselves out of so many precious moments. Thank you for sharing!

22 01 2013
Louise

Yes, every breath is a blessing but I tend to get distracted easily and forget that!!! 🙂 Thanks for the re-blog.

22 01 2013
allthingsboys

Reblogged this on AllThingsBoys Blog and commented:
Wise food for thought…

22 01 2013
Pat

Great post. I did live past 65 and it seems like there needs to be a balance. We always chose a simple lifestyle because we didn’t want debt. We did have a mortgage, although small, and three children to raise. There were many years we worked really hard because we had to. We didn’t have a lot of toys -our kids complained that we were the last on the block to get a colored TV. We had to do what we did to put food on the table and buy shoes. But we did some traveling on the cheap by camping. We also saved money out of every pay. Now in our late 60’s we have enough money to also live simply but well. We can travel, have modest hobbies, and feel secure about our future.
Thank you for sharing so eloquently what it feels like to have your world so shaken and so removed. Beautiful writing from your soul.

23 01 2013
Louise

Thanks Pat, it certainly is a matter of balance between living well now as well as preparing for the future. I’m glad you’ve found a rich life by the way of simplicity. Thanks for stopping by.

22 01 2013
Dina

Thanks for this thoughtful reminder.
Love
Dina

23 01 2013
terry1954

I have been living that life for five years since my dad died. it is so hard to find the living in the frozen standing of life…..but i am trying

23 01 2013
Louise

In grief, I think time changes so a week seems like months. Many will recommend living day by day, but in all honesty, there are times when it is minute by minute. Take care and keep going 🙂

24 01 2013
terry1954

I will and you too. you would think after five years i would have filled that void. i do better today than last year, but i don’t think i will ever go back to the way i was. my dad was my hero. thanks Louise

23 01 2013
csroth3

I felt this way as a teenager watching the world around me, so I lived with purpose and very few possessions in my 20’s. After having children in my 30’s we began to accumulate “things”, for the sake of family life & children. Now our children are grown and the “things”, especially the house, are a weight on our shoulders. My parents have passed away and my children are moving on so I feel once again like that teenager looking at life and wanting to make it all worthwhile. You are so right that creating happiness is not about having “things”, it’s about loving people and making the best of each moment. Blessings to you and yours.

23 01 2013
Louise

Life does ebb and flow doesn’t it, with all the different periods we go through. ‘Things’ are great as long as they’re not dictating how we should live. Your comment has really provoked me to write some more. I have said recently that I felt like a teenager again, so I’ll ponder that for a while. Best wishes,

23 01 2013
pommepal

Excellent thought provoking post. You never know when life will end and the “things” that seem so important today you can easily live without. I had a major heart attack at 66. I survived but back then thought I would never travel again. Now 4 years later we have downsized to a granny flat/ studio apartment, and have spent the past 3 years travelling in a very small Toyota hi-ace, Matilda is our travelling home and transport and is one of the loves of my life, the other is Jack. Now I am 70 years old they are the important things in my life. (blogging comes a close third, 🙂 Lol….!!)

23 01 2013
Louise

Wow! That’s inspiring and pretty courageous – I read your travels through the NT with interest and long to spend some time camping as you’ve done. Safe travels!

24 01 2013
pommepal

I loved the laid back vibes of the Northern Territory, there is so much to explore up there and such an amazing history both european and aboriginal.

24 01 2013
Victoria

This is lovely, Louise. And thank you for the reminder. I’m grateful for the big, life altering events. Even though a couple have been heart-shattering, they completely altered my perspective on life, and the way of living.

24 01 2013
Heart To Harp

Loss like you experienced forever changes us. But if we have courage, it can whittle us down to what is real and true and essential in our lives. And it’s not “things.” You so eloquently defined the task of being here – to be alive – and the traps that keep us from doing so. Loved this post!

25 01 2013
Madhu

This is on the spot! Grief holds up the truth to us like a mirror. We made changes too. And downsized and decided to travel, instead of hoarding for a tomorrow we might never see.
Good luck with your plans Louise, and wish you much happiness 🙂

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