If the COVID-19 crisis hadn’t started one year ago, we wouldn’t have discovered how fragile our systems, such as economy, healthcare, food and livelihood, are.
Also, in my case, I wouldn’t have recognized how life on the countryside is the best what happened to me. In fact, I have become very grateful to live on the countryside. I see it as a step closer to becoming more resilient to crises.
When I read about families cramped between apartment walls in the city as we were forced by law to stay in our homes, I knew this would be a huge challenge for all these families and particularly not without danger. Not being able to go outside jeopardizes people’s (mental) health.
Many times we said to each other how lucky we were to live on el campo — the countryside — and to be able to be outside in the garden and to walk around. It always seems to be the case when a dramatic event happens, suddenly we come to realize a few things which weren’t so obvious before. We see what’s really important in life, the things that truly matter.
In that sense crises aren’t always bad. They offer new ways of thinking. New ways of being and doing.
The fact that the health of our planet is suffering, that we breathe polluted air that kills us, that wild life is dying, and that we see forests and its inhabitants devoured by ferocious flames, are no urgent reasons for our political leaders and for us to massively reconsider our choices. They haven’t been urgent reasons to make pressing regulations and to slow down for a change.
This pandemic is/was an immediate danger to humans (well, mostly to those who already have health problems, but there certainly have been exceptions too), whilst apparently climate change, the loss of biodiversity and forests aren’t. Because, we don’t see the effects in our daily lives. Not yet. But this could be — again — a new reality in the future to come.
Obviously, the corona-crisis is about human fragility. We are fragile, but so are our systems — health, food, economy, livelihood. I have come to realize that it makes sense to learn about growing our own food, to start community-gardens, or, if we can’t, to make connections with local farmers or shops which sell their products. The huge dependence on supermarkets isn’t a healthy system.
It makes sense to become self-sustainable and to build communities/networks where we can look after each other. This doesn’t mean that viruses won’t kill us, but it makes us less fragile when we need to live through even bigger crises. Yes, it makes sense to become resilient beings, to become more self-sustainable and free.
So, how do we become more resilient, self-sustainable and free people?
Move to the countryside, go completely off-grid, install solar panels, harvest rainwater, grow your own food, poop on a wooden box, make compost, and build yourself a tiny house and live a debt-free life.
Man, that sounds far too drastically, doesn’t it?
I can imagine it does, but I know it is possible. It took my partner and I some years to arrive here. Over the years we completely transformed our lives and we are now those off-grid people, living on 12 square meters. I’m not saying it’s always easy and I never long to a warm, indulging bath.
Of course not everyone likes the idea of having such a lifestyle. But for those who are interested, know you can start by taking small steps.
1. Buy from local market gardeners
We need to eat everyday, so changing the way we provide ourselves with healthy food, is an important step. See if there’s a local farm where you can get your organically grown veggies from. Or a local market where the farmer sells his products. Maybe there’s a community garden nearby or start one with neighbors and friends.
Buying in bulk, such as oats, chickpeas, beans, flour , etc., is cheaper, eco-friendly and makes us less dependent on supermarkets.
2. Live with less and buy less stuff
Things don’t make us happy. Well, maybe they do for a short moment. In Spain the shops were closed for months, so shopping wasn’t an option. I realized I didn’t really miss them, and it even felt life is more simple that way, to realize what’s essential and not.
Ask yourself before buying new stuff, “Do I really need this?”
3. Start saving at a young age
To have a financial buffer is a peace of mind and reduces the stress in times of change.
Start young and the benefits come later. I wish I’d been more aware of this when I was younger.
4. Radically cut down expenses
* See if that telephone contract can be cheaper.
* Do you and your partner really need two cars? Public transport is much more economical (and better for the planet). Or, take the bicycle to work.
* Celebrate holidays closer to home.
* Be your own restaurant and cook a nice homemade meal, have dinner parties with friends at home instead of going to a restaurant. I used to go to restaurants a lot. Now it’s only for special occasions.
*If you’re living costs (rent, mortgage) are relatively high, see if changes can be made. If not, consider to move to a more inexpensive, and smaller, house or apartment.
*Invest in that what matters (to you), such as solar panels, a piece of land, trees for wood and fruit, knowledge, such as permaculture and regenerative agriculture or whatever rocks your world.
When we lower our expenses a crisis will hit us less hard, and therefore we’re resilient financially.
5. Work remotely or do “essential work”, but most of all do that what gives you purpose
The bullshit jobs are leaving first, as we could see with this health-crisis. The “essential workers” kept their jobs. The nurses, (mental) health professionals, doctors and all those caring for vulnerable and ill people. Of course, society needs them. The same goes for market gardeners, teachers, some lawyers, some politicians (really just a few, most we don’t need) and engineers. But also the healers, the inventors, the creators, the creatives. Without them the world will be a poor place.
Basically, it all boils down to meaning. With meaningful work, where our heart is, the financial means will follow sooner or later. Honestly, I’m not there yet. I’m investing time and money in the work I believe in and it can be hard sometimes to keep the faith that it will bear fruit any time soon.
6. Find support by having healthy relationships and family and friends who want the best for you
Being connected to people who care, increases resilience. We all need a support system we can rely on and they are those people, they are our community. We can’t do it all on our own. Care about each other, and share resources or exchange goods.
7. Cultivate personal resilience
We are much stronger than we think we are. When difficult times hit us hard, for example the death of a loved one, illness, a divorce, the loss of a child, we will discover how we live through those hardships without losing ourselves if we only see ourselves as victims of the hard circumstances.
To boost resilience we can use these three, powerful strategies mentioned in this beautiful and helpful TED-talk by resilience expert Dr. Lucy Hone:
- Acknowledge that shit happens. Human existence means also suffering. Life mostly isn’t shiny, happy pictures on Instagram.
- Make an intentional, deliberate ongoing effort to tune in to what’s good in our world. Focus on the things we can change and accept what we can’t.
- Always ask ourselves: “Is the way I am thinking and acting helping or harming me?”
Know it is possible to live and grieve at the same time.
I hope these tips will help you to be more resilient, self-sustainable, and free.
With many Easter Blessings,