When the idea started, I had no real idea what might be involved, or even whether it would come to anything. We’ve been going a few months now so I’ve had some time to reflect.
Firstly the realisation that we are starting to make something pretty fantastic manifest itself in the form of a suitable expedition vehicle, that we have started to approach (potentially) interested partners, that we are developing a project plan etc etc ad infinitum – all outside of the day jobs – is proving to be quite a self-development experience. Working in the public sector has of course led to experience in these areas (commissioning, project planning, budgeting, negotiation), but there is something to be said for experiencing the direct consequence of one’s own decisions as they impact upon one’s own money and resources. I might even describe it as a bit of a buzz, although that might wear off when we are still paying things back in fourteen years’ time!
The point being that the work involved is filling a gap that I didn’t really know was there. Subsequent successes, at any measurable level, are definitely adding ‘something’, but what exactly? Self-esteem I think! Self esteem and Occupational balance. And as it turns out that’s a pretty difficult thing to measure if you don’t know it’s deficient. Or put another way, doing things is good for you. (Especially if it presses buttons you’ve been neglecting or didn’t even know were there).
Of course I should know this as an Occupational Therapist, but sometimes the tree and forest effect is all too pervasive. Projects like this make you look and think outside of the box. I don’t for one minute suppose that there is a level of ‘grandiose’ to qualify for this, but the trick is to get beyond the old routine and out of the comfort zone. [How many clichés can I get into this post!?!]
Secondly, another benefit comes from the financial sacrifice and discipline. ‘Things’ are starting to have a real value again. For example, looking ahead to Christmas, I can ask for mundane items such as socks, pants and smellies, and actually be genuinely grateful if anyone should be gracious enough to deliver!
Thirdly, going out less correlates directly with less excess in alcohol and food (pub and restaurants) and my ageing body thanks me greatly. There’s been no drastic weight loss, but there is an undeniable downward trend contrasting with the previous upwards one. Not too long ago I’d have quite happily professed “I don’t know where it [weight] comes from, I eat healthily enough.” Cobblers! It’s as simple as the units [‘allowed’ for a sedentary man in the UK] equate to an extra day’s calorie intake a week or thereabouts; especially if you look at the concomitant and inevitable snackage that goes with beer. A sobering thought (tee hee).
(Fourthly, I still hate talking to anyone other than friends and family on the telephone.)
Of late, although not being in any way ‘well-heeled’ – we’ve been able to pretty much buy and indulge on impulse. I wonder if this is something of a common symptom in modern British society – where the disease is our obsession with obtaining material wealth, only to find we are literally no better off subsequently. Those currently suggesting we might be happier in ourselves if we had less, might have a point. That aside, I am not lost to the irony of pontificating on disposing of our ‘disposable income’ (and then some) on a grand indulgent project like an Azalai Across Africa. I think I’ve mentioned before that the ethics of the scheme are part of the test!