Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Balancing Act

I’ve become a bit unbalanced of late.
No, I don’t mean that I have been toppling over or that my mental health is any more precarious than it ever was, but that the ratio of time spent sitting at the computer to time spent moving around and doing other things has been steadily shrinking over these past few months. The result: some strong warning signals from my body, including eyestrain and a sore shoulder, forcing me away from my desk. Which is one of the reasons why my blog posts have been sparse (and they were never all that frequent to begin with, as you may have noticed).
I find myself feeling thinking back nostalgically, from time to time, to the early 1990s in Australia when Sky and I were building our own adobe house, making fifty bricks every morning, then turning yesterday’s bricks and stacking the week-old ones.

We planted trees all afternoon and spent almost every waking moment outside except when it was pouring with rain—which in that drought-prone area it very rarely did.
We ate outdoors, showered outdoors, came in only to sleep. Maybe we were unbalanced in the other direction, but it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time. We felt fit and healthy and full of energy. And our little computer that drew its power from a solar panel could only run for an hour or two a day.Human bodies were not designed for a sedentary life. Our species was certainly not designed for a life spent indoors, in airless, climate-controlled houses with fitted carpets and double glazing, eating instant dinners defrosted in microwave ovens. And our children and grandchildren were certainly not meant to spend huge chunks of their days and evenings in front of screens, either passively soaking up commercial propaganda and mindless triviality or vanquishing armies of virtual enemies with their thumbs.

It seems as though we have removed ourselves further and further from any real contact with the Earth. Small wonder, then, that we have wreaked so much mindless havoc. I am not the only one who’s out of balance. Two thirds of us are. And many, worse than me. At least I walk miles every day in the fresh country air, chop wood, grow fruit and vegetables and cook from scratch.

Even so, I have some way to go to get back in balance the way I would really like to be. Which is difficult, since I am a writer and an editor and in this remote, rural area of England where we live it is the Internet that keeps me connected to the wider world. Plus we live in a cold climate and it rains a lot.

Anyone else out there wrestling with a similar dilemma?


Tess said...

How great to see these pictures of you building and planting. And yes you look really healthy - glowing in fact.

Yes, my life is unbalanced in this way. But I love my online life probably more than contact with the earth, which often feels more forced to me and full of "shoulds" rather than enjoyment (you should go for a walk). Which probably says my computer addiction is far gone...


Marian -- Yes, it is a dilemma to be a writer in today's world -- but its really always been that way. Perhaps Thoreau had the right idea -- walk some, observe nature some and write some. Not that he lived a long life; but it does make one feel better each day if they follow such a routine. Sounds like that is what you are doing. I get up several times while on my long stints at the computer screen and either clean something, dance to a song on the radio do a few exercises, or observe nature. This keeps me from developing rigor-mortise. Not sure if I spelled those last two words right? Oh, I like your photos of you in Australia! -- barbara

Ann said...

My life is also unbalanced. I do better in milder weather -- but in the winter, I just can't get worked up to get outside for walks with the dogs or yard work (even though I could get some of my best pruning done right now!). So I sit in front of the computer, or at my writing desk, or reading. And I THINK about yoga, at least. But that's about as far as it gets.

gleaner said...

I've stopped blogging because of the time it was stealing from me - but I still love reading blogs and enjoyed this post.

Just the last few days I've been reading "Little House on a Small Planet" and seriously considering building my own mudbrick or tiny home here in aus, so your pictures were inspirational! (do you have any recommendations of builders etc)

Elderwoman said...

So glad to know I'm not the only one dealing with this issue.
I am appreciating all your comments.
Note to 'Gleaner': I'd say go for it. Mudbricks are easy to make and fun and very satisfying. And as you can see from the pic, friends love to come and help. Don't listen to the purists who say you have to mix the mud with your bare feet. A cement mixer does the job just fine. Do a couple of test bricks and get them stress-tested to make sure they are up to spec. You might need to mix in some straw.
A subscription to Owner Builder Magazine
is worth its weight in gold and If you need help from professionals, you can find their ads in there also. Good luck!

gleaner said...

Thanks Marian - I've wanted to do this for many years and doing it on my own has always stopped me from exploring it further. I'm going to take some serious steps to do it.

One Woman's Journey said...

Marian, You look so healthy in these images. Thank you for sharing them.
The snow this first winter in my woods home has kept me inside a lot. Fill the bird feeders, take some images and walk a little - but ice and snow unsettle me.
I do yoga every morning, cook healthy meals, and when the sun is shining will bundle up and eat on my deck. I am online more then I want to be. Need to be more disciplined regarding this. But this is a new 18 months hobby for me. My stack of unread books is growing.
When Spring arrives I will be outside most of the time. My new garden is a dream to be fulfilled.
I understand all you share and you are an inspiration to me from the very beginning of my online journey.

Lynell said...

Hello, I'm new to your blog and am loving it so much. You're an inspiration!

It's been difficult to get outside lately with so much rain. I do miss it. Walking is one of the great joys of life; it slows me down and allows me to see so many lovely things. Lately I've been loving the vulnerability of birds' nests perched amongst the bare branches of winter trees.

Joan Tucker said...

Marian, Love your thoughts and reflections. I live in Western Washington State in US and it is very wet and gray for many months. I turn into a bear. More and more I worry about this. Inside, computer or studio focused. My vitamin D levels were way down.

I have a garden but two knee replacements later, getting down and back up is a struggle. I am going to attempt to change this starting today. Thank you for the encouragement. Joan Tucker

Dorothy said...

Marian, this is my first visit, and I so enjoyed reading and seeing the life within your face as you stand by your home into the earth..

I'm 63 and so frustrated as to how much time as passed so quickly and that perhaps I've not used my life to the best of it's ability.

I will return here and so hope you will continue to write more as I can tell you have so much to share with us bloggers.

My very best....

Dorothy from grammology

ranchmama said...

glad I found your blog. very funny how I came across it.. was looking for supportive words on keeping long hair as you age.. and your picture came up with your braid and a link to your blog. did you know that could happen? i am forever grateful that women even worry about balancing their lives. aging does allow that to occur as when one is in the middle o f raising children and pets and husbands and school - everything is always out of balance!

Grandmother said...

It's funny- I was just visiting my daughter and her family who live in the rain forest of Trinidad, grow their own food, bake their own bread, have no TV, and she was talking about how to keep her life balanced! It's a challenge for us all. In my attempt- no TV in our home, daily reading and writing, running 3 times weekly and walking/talking with my husband the other days. I do love to follow certain blogs and write my own- it enriches my life.

Elderwoman said...

Ice unsettles me too, Ernestine. I never used to fear falling but these days I do.
Thanks for all these great comments, folks. Obviously I am far from being the only one to be concerned about this issue pf balance.
@Lynell: I certainly agree about the walking. I rarely miss my morning walk, no matter how busy I am.
@Joan: I take Vitamin D supplements in the winter. In our climate one really has to, I think.
@Dorothy: don’t spend time regretting stuff. NOW is what’s important.
@Ranchmama’ my mother said to me one day when I was in my late forties “Of course you’ll get your hair cut soon, won’t you? I mean, you can’t very well go round with a ponytail when you’re fifty.” Wherever you are now, dear Mother, if you can see me you’ll know this gray ponytail is 73 now and will live as long as I do!
And @M: I love it that there are other TV-refusers out there, not just Sky and me.

PEACE said...

Love your pictures, that must have been an experience to last a lifetime, and understand how you must miss that lifestyle.

I hate being inside and my recent health issues have meant more time inside. I am recovering from another surgery but try to get outside everyday. When I can't I open both doors to just let the air in.

I garden as much as possible in my patio garden and the Vegas heat, but for now until summer comes I enjoy every single plant and flower!

We need fewer work days and more outside days! It should be a law!