So it’s not every day that you meet someone who has it all worked out. At our most recent AA meeting, we met two someones: Crystal and Bjorn of Edible Gardens.
And by all worked out, I really mean all. Edible Gardens a] produces food, b] lets Crystal and Bjorn work together on what they love, c] gives them something they can be proud of, and d] spreads a movement of love for nature and sustainability.
And this is Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs (I’m not being unnecessarily poncy, guys, Crystal used this diagram herself as part of her talk. Really! go check out our photo album from the session!):
See what I mean? As Crystal says, they have all tiers covered in one big pursuit. And they’re absolutely happy doing it:
This is no ordinary lifestyle. Crystal and Bjorn used to be pretty regular people, slogging away steadily in an advertising company. Then one day, it seems like they just woke up and decided there was no reason to imprison themselves in a job they hated. So they took a break, went out to explore, and founded their own sustainable life based on their experiences. Here is what they recommend for everyone:
1. Travel. Go somewhere that makes you uncomfortable. It can be to exotic lands, or within your own country, even to somewhere in your community that just isn’t part of your every day life. And by somewhere, I don’t just mean geographical. Hang out with people you wouldn’t normally talk to. Do things you wouldn’t normally do. Get some perspective, and learn how you can survive in a situation without your regular crutches.
2. Connect with nature. The way they preach it, Edible Gardens is more a philosophy than a project. Growing your own food is a closed loop that removes the artificiality from running on a treadmill in an air-conditioned gym just for the sake of expending energy, and then picking something up from Starbucks on your way back. When you work on a farm, each hour you spend in hard labour translates into food on the table. Do that just once, and your understanding of your role on this earth changes.
3. Do what you love now. Because there’s a lot of things that won’t wait until your retirement. Crystal had a great point that if she could be good at something she didn’t like, what would it be like if she was doing something she loved? Never underestimate the possibilities of pursuing something you’re passionate about. All the same though, it certainly doesn’t mean blood, sweat and tears aren’t involved! Bjorn did say that even though he’s furthering the urban farming cause that’s close to his heart, it’s hard work every day to build the business.
4. Making yourself happy is not selfish. Boy is this one hard, especially in an Asian culture like ours that emphasizes putting others’ needs before your own. But I’ve known myself happy, and I know what I’m like miserable, and I can with 100% conviction say that happiness rubs off on others, and bitterness creates conflict. Do something that makes you happy and fulfilled, and you’ll find you have endless energy to make the lives of those around you sweeter just because you want to share that joy. And as Crystal rightly says, “Being happy doesn’t mean not being productive.” You can live off a job that makes you happy just as much as you can live off a job that you hate.
Now, if you missed this session, then you didn’t get to participate in our discussions, nor hang out with the amazing AA community:
But I can let you do some arm-chair self-reflection in the comfort of your own home: We at AA firmly believe that when you’re stuck in a rut, striking out in a new direction, meeting new people and learning new skills just for fun can set you back on track. So, if you could drop everything to go experience something new, what would you do?
Also, watch out for more on Edible Gardnes on Weare.sg! We worked with them to profile Bjorn so there’s more on this journey coming up from them!
Until next time,