To A More Sustainable 2015

Here we go again, another lap around the sun behind us as we begin to circle around again this week. Are you picking up momentum towards achieving your goals in life? Or are you getting tired, and beginning to struggle with keeping up the pace? Maybe you have already fallen behind due to sheer exhaustion. Does 2015 hold the promise of a better life, and more importantly can we sustain our all-out efforts for another year?

Staying at the top of elite sport is all consuming. It requires 100 per cent commitment, you can’t be half in and half out, it’s a 24 hour-a-day job, 365 days a year. I used to throw around the phrase “grindin’ for that shine” frequently as it summed up my feelings about being tough, enduring, and training hard for hopeful future glory.

For a while there, things were becoming unsustainable, the candle was burning at both ends and the sides. Undeniably, after a certain point, the frustrating law of diminishing returns and the path to greatness takes a detour down the road to burnout. I found myself sacrificing increasingly more of life’s vitality in the hope of the attaining my goals. 

Don’t get me wrong, sacrifices must to be made, but they shouldn’t be life consuming. The journey should be an enjoyable one. There have been times when the emphasis sadly rested solely on the destination, instead of the journey, and I was always secretly afraid that if the end didn’t justify the means I would regret wasting a huge chunk of life.

In sport, either we are winning or losing, we can’t afford to get confused. My struggle to sustain the pace and keep accelerating has pushed me to come to a novel understanding of life sustainability that I feel compelled to share with you below.

I call the inspiration permaculture life. Permaculture was invented by Bill Mollison and is a revolutionary philosophy and method of carefully designing and creating self-sustaining agricultural systems that are extremely productive, requiring no maintenance. If done right, the farmer is no longer a farmer but rather a gatherer. Permaculture emphasises allowing nature to do what it does best and aims to create as many symbiotic relationships as possible while minimising waste. 

When we apply this philosophy to life, the emphasis is deliberately shifted from the number of things in our lives such as our job, possessions, relationships, social life, leisure activities, travel etc, to the number of ways in which each symbiotically enriches the others—everything being connected. 

The goal is to create connections such as having your location conveniently facilitate what you do for a living, and your leisure activities; having your friends relate to what you do for a living and also enjoy the same things you do for fun. Thereby enhancing multiple aspects of your life, while Ideally having a partner that can relate to your challenges, get along with your friends and also enjoy what you do for fun. Its about each element of life facilitating, enhancing and complementing the others.

Now we are adding new elements to our lives all the time. Are they enhancing or detracting for your vitality? Permaculture also provides guidelines for this. The three main tenets of permaculture life are that at first, the new addition should be good for our lives as a whole, enriching the other elements involved. 

Second, the new addition should return a surplus, meaning you get more out of it than you put in.

Third, in the limited time that you spend on this earth, would you rather have that in your life or something else in its place? In gardening terms would you prefer to grow pumpkin or squash in the limited space in your garden.

In the permaculture gardening system, the garden is arranged in concentric rings emanating out from the center with cooking herbs closest and lumber furthest away. Imagine your house at the center of these rings. To apply this to our lives and minimise wasted time and energy we should situate our home closest to the things that we visit daily, putting our homes closest to our jobs or schools. Perhaps we go to the grocery twice a week, allowing us to situate that further away in the second concentric ring. Thirdly you might go to the beach or airport once every two weeks affording us to situate those elements in the third concentric ring and so on.

I may not have the ideal permaculture life yet, but I believe that by utilising permaculture and adapting it to the greater context of my life it has made 2012, 2013 and 2014 for me more successful and more enjoyable with less perceived effort. As I continue to learn, adapt and implement permaculture life I look forward to whatever 2015 has in store for me. Give it a try!