On writing about living styles yesterday I did a little bit of research in an attempt to discover if the way we tend to live in nuclear family units in the UK is the norm throughout the world or whether there are first world countries out there where there is less emphasis on small families or singletons living in isolation. Obviously extended families are not uncommon (and it occurs to me now that I did actually live in an extended family growing up as my maternal grandparents lived with us from the time I was 7 years old). Other than extended family units though, the only other significantly different lifestyle I stumbled across was living in a ‘commune’ – essentially a large building or group of dwellings where groups of like-minded people, (of no particular family make up), come together, sharing communal spaces like kitchens and bathrooms, dining and living areas, and following a reciprocal programme of shared jobs around the place. At first glance this seems like a great idea but the places I came across in my search seemed to have been set up by those with, for want of a better word, a ‘spiritual’ bent: a modern day ‘hippy’ feel with communal yoga sessions; a place where you might find yourself in a room full of people gathered around a guitar, singing Kum byar whilst heating up a pan of organically grown mung beans on a solar panel.
Listen – I’m not dissing this way of life by any means – in fact, I love the idea of being able to find peace in meditation and achieving some kind of personal nirvana through aligning my body with the planets (I could be getting mixed up here…) but in my experience, not only are my arms not strong enough to maintain the ‘Downward Dog’, nor my balance good enough to keep the tree pose up for more than a few wobbly seconds, but my cynical old 21st century brain seems to experience the same kind of metaphorical wobble when faced with the prospect of abandoning the here and now, hustle and bustle and constant movement of daily life in order to drop into a nice calm trance state. Maybe I should submit myself to a hypnotist.