Leaving aside the facts, such as my sense of humour often being met with blank uncomprehending stares or my increasing frustrations with the way that society seems to be steadily eroding individuality in favour of a strange, media-driven version of normality, it's objectively accurate to say that I - and my gorgeous lady - are diverging from many other people's versions of how to live. Now, I should be clear; we're not starting to shed our clothing on every day with an 'r' in it (we only do that in the summer months or when we have guests), and neither have we taken to worshipping flip-flops as a manifestation of the great foot deity Tarsal, but we do have some less than regular goals.
It's all quite simple, really. We've given up the pursuit of stuff. We recognize that our happiness is not dependent upon how many things we have, or how big or expensive those things may be, and so we are now headed along a path which is leading us to a simpler lifestyle - as well as hopefully a more physically active lifestyle.
Increasingly, however, it seems obvious to me that people either cannot or will not understand what we're trying to achieve. That's OK, I suppose, although I don't really see what's so difficult to understand. We want to live simply, to get out of the system which drives us to buy more, and to consume more and more. We are no longer in competition with everyone else: we don't need to be LIKE everyone else, or to fit into anyone else's version of what life should be.
To that extent, we are starting to live outside society's box. No, we're not living in a rough shelter fashioned from branches, birch bark and maple leaves, and no, we're not clothing ourselves in the skins of captured and killed bears and wolverines, but we have a small-ish and unspectacular home and we make our clothes last. We even take showers. Where possible (I am after all, a strangely-shaped thing) we buy used casual clothing at the thrift store - and so far we haven't noticed an outbreak of cooties. Neither do we yet forage in the undergrowth for fungi, roots and berries (although the berries part does occasionally happen in the right season), and eating roadkill is not on our list of things to try. We do however, eat - with the exception of cheese and yoghurt, both of which are on the list for future home-production - mostly unprocessed food, with the emphasis on organic fruit, vegetables and locally-sourced meat. It's all intended to be simple, and as non-reliant upon large corporations (especially the food industry) as possible.
If you look into Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, we're focusing on self-sufficiency regarding the fundamentals of survival. To us, it makes only good sense.
Some people get it, of course - in particular most of my wife's female friends, many of whom are on board with the whole idea and either planning to or already executing a similar life strategy. I find that the men that I know tend to be the ones who provide the blank looks. So many men in this part of the world seem to be quite wrapped up in the culture of money and 'stuff' - in particular with regard to big or expensive trucks, cars, boats and motorcycles. If I try to explain our philosophy, it seems to make little or no sense to them, and that worries me. How, I wonder, can it be so hard to understand that a person wants to step away from the constant need for things, from the drive to earn money only to spend it quickly, and to borrow even more? I think that perhaps it becomes difficult when a way of life becomes addictive.
Perhaps we will end up categorized as 'weirdos' or 'hippies', but I prefer to think quite the opposite. I believe that the modern, gather-as-much-stuff-around-me-as-possible lifestyle is strange and unnatural. I've tried the rat race thing. I've spent as much time away from home as in it in order to make a very good wage, and I drew the conclusion that it made no sense. What happened to me was that I began to accumulate things, but my happiness - and my health - began to diminish. I wasn't seeing my children nearly enough. My marriage, which had been struggling for years, fell apart. In short, simple terms, that lifestyle simply didn't work. I wonder how many people carry on collecting things simply to drown out the small voice which tells them that it isn't working. I have my suspicions. Of course I have no way to know how many people work in a similar way to me, but I have a hunch that there are a lot of folks out there who fool themselves into feeling good about their lives in this way.
Personally, I'm looking forward to harvesting my own food, keeping my house warm and dry, and having time to think about the other important things in life: people.