give up your urban “devil”

by Juan on June 1, 2009

When I wrote startup and the simple life a couple of months ago I set in motion a plan that would take me to a rural setting with the idea to create productive business relationships with locals hoping to capitalize on some of the ideas of this blog. Mostly on the idea that we urbanites treasure the calmness that can only be acquired through detachment from our ever accelerating way of live.

It is perhaps a sign that Monocle’s #24 romanticizes the idea of agro as a fundamental human activity that would restore the soul or our society by getting closer to the people that make a living from farming. While the same formula is often cited by advocates of organic produce, Monocle’s article seems to be more focused on the art of living a simple life and be productive at the same time. I say it must be a sign because just a few days ago I was using the concept of agro-tourism (as developed in Italy) as a prime example of how people seek to immerse themselves into a lifestyle that seems to be disappearing as urban centres advance.

I too, while trying to refine this idea, assumed that if we could send a few people over to the rural landscape, the environment would work its magic, their soul would be cleansed and they would have the experience of their life. But something seems to be missing from this assumption.

If you’ve spent a week at a villa/farm in Europe, sipping a cup of coffee while watching the men and women of the town work the fields and bring fresh produce to the table, only to spend three hours on a slow-food feast, proud of how in touch with humanity you are, you’ve got to realize you’re still an spectator and the whole experience is a bit foreign. Yes, maybe they invited you pick your own fruit from the tree, but would you consider trading your current lifestyle for this? Would you work the fields from dawn to dusk to have a quiet evening and a light dinner?

This tension between our urban self and our “gaia” consciousness is a complex one and has developed already many traumas on simple people trying to do the right thing. It may be tempting to give up our urban “devil” and enlist in some new form of commune. But for most of us that experience will not last.

As with many other problems, the key may be in experimentation: what if you could try alternate lifestyles for a short while? Maybe farming is not going to cut it, but helping a community in need develop advanced social programs tapping into your urban skills may be your call. If you could try not one but a few life-changing experiences, chances are not only you’ll change your life, but you’ll end up enhancing the life of many people around you.

You can only become a global citizen by living like other citizens around the globe.

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