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Companionship: A Guide to Making Family Bonds Stronger

Written by , Posted in Sustainability

Companionship: A Guide to Making Family Bonds Stronger

 

When I first started writing my blog about sustainability and living off the grid I listed the seven things that we needed if the lights go off. A reader asked why I didn’t add companionship to the list, whether platonic or not. If you care to read my noncommittal response then click here.

So here’s the thing, if you read my rant about grocery stores then you know my wife took a trip with her sister and the children this week. I wish I could have joined them, but alas I could not. While it’s afforded me a little more time to stay up late writing and watching television, what it’s truly given me is silence. A silence that’s deafening. I sit here, up far too late for my own good, and listen to the silence, the periodic passing car on the highway the only thing to break it.

So, what is companionship to the conversation of sustainability? I’ve said before that to be sustainable, the system has to work for today and for the future. For me, there was a time when I could say I’d live the true writer’s life, bereft of human contact as I toiled in some ivory tower sipping tea that’s produced from a futuristic replicator system just so I didn’t have to venture outside to find nourishment. There was a time that I could forgo the touch of another or the sound of their voice.

That time has passed however, and I now fall into the percentage of the population that requires human contact. Look at our cities. People wouldn’t live in cities if they hated having neighbours. One is the loneliest number. To some it doesn’t have to be intimate in nature. What matters is a voice or even just the sound of breathing. What matters is getting up in the middle of the night to comfort a sixth month old child who’s screaming from the bad dream he’s had. It’s the complex conversations and the mundane conversations even the inane conversations.

To be sustainable, we cannot live in a vacuum, stumbling through the day hoping for it to be over or having no contact so we don’t know if it’s today or still yesterday. We can’t expect that tomorrow will be a better day. We need to take control of our own lives so we can achieve the balance.

I have always said that I work to live not the other way around. What about you? Do you remember holding your infant children? Do you hush them to sleep after a nightmare?

Here is a short list of things we can do to bolster your connection with people and more importantly your family.

1.  Make friends, don’t just friend them. The advent of social media programs like Facebook made it easy to become “friends” with someone, periodically touching base with them to see what they’ve been up to. In fact, Facebook makes it easy to accomplish that goal without even speaking to them. Just read their feed and you’ve caught up on ten years of distance. I’ve even found people I thought I would never see or hear from again. Programs like this are dangerous however. As we allow ourselves to connect electronically, we lose physical connection to the world around us. Remember the next time you get an invite that it might be worth stepping outside of your house for awhile to see real people.

2.  Learn how to hug: I have to admit this one is hard for me, but though I am not the hugging type, I am learning the benefits of physical touch. Among the many things my wife Veronica and my son Remy have taught me is how good it makes you feel as well as the person you’re hugging.

3.  Get rid of the stuff: Along with the added bonus of giving up the stuff around you and saving money so you don’t keep adding to the pile of meaningless, when you start making your life about more than the stuff you can buy, it fills up with experiences spent with the people you love.

4.  Take the time to spend with your family: It’s amazing the things you learn when you spend time with people, especially people you care about. Spend the time you can with your family so the time away doesn’t seem so long.

5.  Put the phone down: This one is, in a way, an ode to my family; a promise for a better life. It isn’t that I am promising a life without my phone. The promise I make and the one everyone should, may not be to cut it out entirely, stepping off the grid forever, but perhaps an hour a day or a day a week. Whatever you choose, make it consistent and make sure everyone does it. Spending time with your loved ones should be uninterrupted.

6.  Eat dinner as a family every night: It might not be a long time, but establishing a real dinner accomplishes a lot of things. Not only will you find yourself eating more healthy as you take the time to cook your meals, but you will learn a lot about the people you love and your children will want to stay rather than running off to get fast food every time.

My old highschool’s mantra was Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Isn’t it time you did so for yourself? Few people can live in a dirt shack ten feet by ten feet without going crazy. There will be a time when the lights go off, or you simply need a hug. Having people around you that you care about will fill the silence with laughter.

Who would you ask to stay? Are you a party person? Or do you think you can live long term without uttering a word? WILSON!!!