Student - February 3, 2020

Blog: Life choices

Text:
Donatella Gasparro

What kind of life do you want to live? Resource blogger Donatella Gasparro asks herself this question more often than usual recently. It may have something to do with the fact that the end of her adventure as a student is coming closer and closer.

© Sven Menschel

Six years ago, before starting my agricultural sciences studies, Thoreau’s Walden was my Holy Bible and my highest aspiration was to be fully self-sufficient and to live off-grid on a farm near the forest. Nowadays I find myself spending 8 hours a day in front of a computer most of the days. And it’s funny to realise how this journey, that started from re-connection with nature, brought me in front of a screen, as too many high-education jobs bring one to do. And this does not mean that what one’s doing on that screen is not interesting or relevant.

What if…?
I still agree with the thought behind this: to work within the big machine and make a slow but impactful change through science and academia, in order to contribute to a better future. But the idea of steering clear from the structural wrongness of our socio-economic system continuously tickles me. There comes the question again: what kind of life do you want to live? Making broad impact within strangling 40-hours work weeks, or tending your own garden while embodying an alternative, living a rural life of simplicity? And what if this inbuilt dissatisfaction of the ‘what if…’ stays anyways, whatever choice we make?

Do we really need to choose? Is it really that much of a black or white choice?

The right track
Last time I was in an airport, roaming through the books and magazines while waiting for my gate number to be displayed, I spent a good bunch of minutes scanning in a frown through two big shelves of fashion and life-style magazines, before finding the neglected third smaller shelf with some more interesting stuff. I bought a National Geographic and I felt quite good. I read some articles on the plane and I felt like what I’m doing with my life (excluding flying at that very moment, but that’s another story) makes a lot of sense, and my future work could actually contribute to the debate on the challenges the world and our civilization is facing right now. I felt a bit proud, and on the right track.

Balance
Does this answer my question about the kind of life I want to live? Yes and no. The thing is: do we really need to choose? Is it really that much of a black or white choice? I hope it’s not. I hope it’s possible to balance one’s life between rural simplicity, academic publications, vegetable gardens and laptop screens. But that would need to come with some adjustments to the 40-hour week standards.

P.S. I would be fun to read back this blog in 20 years and see what I actually ended up doing…

Donatella Gasparro is a Master’s student in Organic Agriculture. She hails from Italy and currently lives in Droevendaal.