Day in the Life of a Downshifter – Issue 10

Tom_Livanos_downshiter_Mug_ShotBy Tom Livanos

Tragedy: in the summer of 2004/05, I had a bad run. Three events. I would not wish any one of them on “my worst enemy”. The thing is: we do not know the pond we are swimming in unless we are picked up and transferred some place else…

I finished school in 1993, a high academic achiever. Largely because there was a lot of business and politics discussed in my parent’s house, I studied accounting. My university results put me in the top 15% of the student body and so I went on to postgraduate studies in finance. Senior team members and managers would tell me in performance reviews, that I was the best telephone adviser they had seen. Still, none of it satisfied me.

Ever since I could remember, I had been a philosophical sort of fellow. Prior to the chats in the household, I remember observing lady beetles on leaves. I always enjoyed the meditative life. It is not one which fits well with mainstream Australian (or any Western) society. I went with the mainstream, but did not cease to ponder – ponder my role within it all. It included conversations with close relatives – one of which I later lost…

Okay, what is important in life?

I tell you, it is the relationships we have with one another. Does it matter if we disagree? Isn’t that to be expected? What of the size of a television set? Or the styling of a car? The styling of curtains or carpet or furniture? Are these more important than having people to talk with at night? My downsizing has not been an abrupt change – not even after the summer of 2004/05. Has it been a conscious change? Most definitely.

I have a smaller space which I can call my own. I share toilets, showers, kitchens, a laundry, clothes lines and dining areas with people I do not know. I get to know some – others leave too soon. This is what enriches one’s life. It is not which model iPhone one is tied to. In living more modestly one then has room to see the grandeur of life on this planet. And that includes the grandeur of human life. It is to these ends that I direct my valuable effort and time.

Over the last fifteen years, I have relocated from Sydney to a regional centre, have stopped wearing uncomfortable suits, have stopped using a car, have moved from a house to a multi-residence, decreased my income by about 60% and changed my hairstyle from slick to clipper-cut. I have increased my ability to change the society we live in, increased my ability to do what I believe is right and increased my satisfaction in life.

I now see just how much I have to be grateful for – including the invitation to be writing here. Thank-you.

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