Unmoored – Rebuilding a community
As we undertake this journey to independence, Mrs. Grizzly and I have many opportunities to reflect on both benefits and problems of this society we’ve created.
There are a LOT of benefits, don’t anyone ever convince you otherwise. Beyond shiny gadgets and ridiculously fast cars, instant delivery of almost anything, or cat videos on the internet – we quite literally have a world full of miracles. Someone from 100 years ago would look at our lives of think we all must be perfectly happy. The BLS has a great survey of what an average life was like back then. The average worker was a farmer, toiling from before dawn till after dusk on back breaking work, happy to scrape by on the meager earnings of a plot of land. Children died early and from horrible diseases that we can easily prevent today. Life expectancy was short, and retirement was non-existent for almost all. Those who didn’t work on farms toiled in factories with almost zero safety protections. Home-ownership was nearly impossible for most. The 40-hour workweek, still a bit of a dream today, was even more distant then. Higher education was a reserved for a tiny fraction of society. Evey high school graduation was a dream. No air travel, no electricity, no air conditioning, no refrigeration. The farmer of yesterday would look at anyone unhappy with our present world and think we’re all a bunch of whiny brats. And they would have a point.
What is missing?
So why are we all so damn unhappy? What is missing from out life? What meaning? What substance? We’ve had a long time to think about this, many long walks to and from the park in our neighborhood with baby bear in tow. For Mrs. Grizzly and I, that missing piece was a community. We have a world filled with miracles, but an ever narrowing circle of people to share that world with. We have become unmoored. We’re all ships lost a sea, untethered to anything beyond a narrow set of goals.
Our current world is isolating. We travel to and from jobs and ensconce ourselves in front of televisions in air-conditioned homes when we return. The only community meeting in our neighborhood was run by a local real-estate agent looking for sellers. I went to one VFW meeting in our area, a sparsely attended thing devoid of any momentum. I didn’t return. Mrs. Grizzly tried and failed to find a working mom’s group to join. We knew the names of only two of our neighbors. One of them moved away, leaving only one.
What was lacking in our life was any larger tribe, any community. We had all the material comforts we could need, but the human side was missing. Those connections, those celebrations that make life worth living: the neighborhood block parties, the church socials, the kid’s sports leagues. Those anchor points in life, those harbors that make returning from the sea worth it.
Why is it missing
A discussion of why this has occurred in our society could occupy entire books. It already has. But for us, it had a very simple cause. We had no ability to engage in any of these things, and neither did our neighbors. We were all just trying to struggle up the corporate ladders in the high-pressure environment of the tech industry. Who has time to organize a block party? Not me or Mrs. Grizzly and certainly not anyone else in our community. The missing piece in our life was fundamentally a choice of resource allocation. And the allocation of that most precious resource: time. We choose to allocate our time to jobs and did not have any left over to build a community, build a home.
Building a home
One of the primary goals of the change we’re making in our lives is to reverse this allocation of time. Instead of dedicating our skill, our ability, and our time to our jobs, we’re going to dedicate those resources to building up what was lacking in our own lives. We’re going to build a home, a community. Instead of being unmoored, lost in an isolating world, were going to do our best to build a harbor.