Work-Life Strategies & Solutions

On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy

To Live Differently – A Personal Manifesto

Recently, I realized that I’m coming upon 3 years of blogging about modern work-life issues and, particularly, remote work. With regard to the latter, I’ve repeatedly mentioned benefits for the environment, some employers, and some employees. However, I’ve yet to share my personal views and reasons for my insane dedication to this topic.

Some presume that I’m a lofty idealist, envisioning that everyone will be working this way in the future. On the contrary, I’m quite a realist and know that not everyone wants to. For example, some enjoy commuting for the hour or two designated to listening to their favorite podcasts. (Though, as I like to point out, one can still walk around the neighborhood for that amount of time and listen to a podcast before and after working at home or wherever one chooses to work.) Nevertheless, I’ve blogged incessantly to spread awareness of remote work as a real choice while realizing that individual preferences would, to some extent, assert themselves and determine who works remotely and the proportion of time spent doing so.

My personal reason for being a stickler about this topic is due to noticing that a quiet, simpler work environment, as well as life in general, is increasingly difficult to come by. People are surprised that I’m not a “big city” person. In my twenties I’d dreamed of living somewhere like San Francisco only to recoil from this idea in my early thirties. People have asked if I don’t desire to live somewhere with more culture and diversity but I conceptualize “diversity” differently than most. When I say “diversity,” in this blog, I’m going well beyond a buzzword that alludes to race and gender and am referring to all of nature’s manifestations (stable, dispositional differences and/or life beyond the anthropocentric one).

When I came upon the story of Christopher Knight, the “North Pond Hermit,” I couldn’t help but admire him and agree with his assessment of society: I don’t like what I see in the society I’m about to enter… It’s too loud. Too colorful. The lack of aesthetics. The crudeness. The inanities. The trivia. Somewhere inside I’ve always harbored a dream of doing something similar (without the part about breaking into other people’s homes of course). Hilariously, a family member recently texted this to me:

I want to live here because I hate you all

Others perceive remote areas as isolating and lonely, but all I see is life – diversity that’s been displaced by human civilization and that few ever occupy (but for good reasons). Perhaps I’ll never do what Knight did as I’m aware that the immense physical requirements and trajectory of normal human aging don’t mesh well. That, and I’d rather not subject my dependent to that type of life. Having enjoyed time in “the boonies” however, I’d strive for a middle ground – life on the very edge of civilization, with one foot in and one foot out. Without remote employment opportunities, it’s difficult for a less established professional to avoid the urban jungle. I’ve paid my dues in the past and still expect to, and I don’t expect a stable, virtual work arrangement to fall into my lap. Someday, perhaps, I may create my own virtual company.

My unapologetic distaste for the anthropocentric life might not come across as endearing (as it’s often interpreted as weird and anti-social) but it’s my honest opinion and, as they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Yet, I I do enjoy and value the individuals I meet online – another reason why I blog. And, to my readers, if the idea of stepping outside your home and seeing a swathe of green and blue (instead of buildings and residences cramping your little space like cage bars) appeals to you then you know what I’m talking about. If the type of work-life depicted in the following video appeals to you then you know my mind.

What do you like or dislike about life in the city? Let me know in the comments section!

6 responses to “To Live Differently – A Personal Manifesto

  1. Libra Lionheart October 3, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Nearly 7 years ago, I opted to leave my current position and struck out on my own with two other colleagues, and part of the reasoning was a better quality and more balanced life. Living the life of business consultant, you are more or less on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to be there when a client needs you. At the same time, clients never visit our office…we always go to them. And aside from the ocassional in person collaboration, we realized that there really is not a need to commute 25 or 30 miles each way into the city five days a week, just because you have an “old school” boss that expects to see your smiling face each day. So, we made that decision to start our own company, set up a virtual mailing address for the corporation, and have never looked back. My commute…other than when I’m heading to the airport or the ocassional downtime meeting…is a 30 step walk from the bedroom to the office (although I do have to go downstairs to make the morning coffee). My hours may still be long, but they are at home and the 2 hours of daily commute time can now be spent more wisely. Of course, the carbon footprint and environmental benefits are certainly a plus, but I can’t say I honestly elected to telecommute for that reason. However, I agree that telecommuting is not for everyone and not for every type of profession; and it takes great discipline to not be distracted and to not find yourself working from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every night.

    • L. P. October 3, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Libra Lionheart! I started out with a nationally dispersed consulting group whose members met regularly over video conferencing, though the switch to another focus last year, involving provision of in-house training to organizations, required extensive traveling – but, due to a family member’s health issues I limit my travel to immediate local areas, I took off on my own as a researcher (which was my role for the group anyway rather than being an outward facing consultant).

      I can accept working more hours than the standard 40 per week and working outside regular business hours as well since I find myself researching and writing for pleasure, unpaid by anyone else, anyway. And I’ve been able to maintain separation and discipline between my own work and the work I preform for others too. One of the other oft-mentioned challenges that’s really present in my situation, however, is getting more work.

      Thanks for sharing your story. It’s a real inspiration to hear of other people who’ve managed to find a way to live and work more according to their own terms! 🙂

  2. lemonchronicle October 7, 2015 at 2:26 am

    I totally agree with your personal thoughts and would never reside in a city or citified suburbs. I do hope on even relocating to a more rural setting, construct a folding house on wheels – be off grid. I have not found my niche for MANY years and would concentrate on publishing online and creating art. Maintaining a rented or leased land arrangement would keep me busy too and happy.

    • L. P. October 7, 2015 at 2:36 am

      Renting or leasing is a great idea (especially since I’m not sure about my own home ownership prospects). Yeah, it’s so weird how the realization that I’m a country gal at heart crept up on me so suddenly!

      I hope that you attain your goal of going more rural because the photography work you do, focusing on nature, is gorgeous! So, I’d like to see more of that! Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts. 🙂

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