I work in what some people would call a quite technical online job, others would say less so.
I spend 8 or 9 hours a day in front of two screens, writing articles on how to use the software product our company sells to customers all over the world, and help customers get to grips with how to use the platform for their business needs.
Intercontinental zoom meetings are a daily occurrence with colleagues and customers. I speak with engineers and product designers about how new features work and test them out so I can explain how customers can use them. I help solve problems and answer questions from customers who want support on how to integrate our software with other apps and platforms, and demo the product to new people looking for a process solution for their business.
By the end of the day (often with mind racing over the list of things I need to do), I walk away from those screens and aim to do anything I can that doesn’t involve typing at my desk or technology.
Living out in the countryside here in central Portugal provides a complete antidote to that fast-paced, technical merry-go-round that is my 40-something hour a week job.
I can step outside and listen to a plethora of birdsong, see my cats racing around the fields and up into the trees, and enjoy the views over hill after hill, that stretch out beyond the field at the bottom of the house.
A chore I need to do during the winter months is splitting logs every few days to keep the fire burning and the radiators warm (there’s no electrically operated thermostat-controlled heating system here!) It’s not something I’ve ever had to do before at any other place I’ve lived, but it gives me something physical to do and it’s also a great stress-reliever swinging that axe!
I take walks around the forest before work in the winter and after work when the nights are lighter in summer, looking out for interesting lichen, plants and flowers and occasionally spotting the odd deer.
Mostly you can see their tracks in the mud and the paths they have scratched out on the banks as they clamber up and into denser forest, but just occasionally I’ve seen them in the brush alongside the forest tracks.
Enjoying time outside is often accompanied by the sounds of chainsaws. People farm eucalyptus trees here, and they are everywhere! It’s always apparently tree-harvesting time somewhere out there.
There’s also the occasional bleating of goats (which are great for keeping down the brush and therefore helping prevent wildfires – horses are too) and sometimes I’ll pass them on the road as they are shepherded from one part of the forest to the other.
I talked recently with neighbours about a new plot of forest they’ve bought for firewood and discussed helping them with the work of cutting down and chopping logs, for a share of the bounty. I’m actually really looking forward to this 🙂
Lots of people live off the land round here, not just for eucalyptus which is supplied to the paper industry, but with gardens full of citrus trees, cherries, persimmons, olives (there are literally thousands of those around here!) and your run of the mill garden veggies.
It’s a much more simple, honest way of living, which I’m reminded of often, as I see locals driving their tractors slowly up the mountain roads with their wife or helpers in the back, or their pickups loaded with bracken they’ve harvested from the forest, or hay for their goats.
At Christmas there’s no popping to B&Q for a Christmas tree, it’s a short trip up to the top of the hill (bouncing along the dirt roads as you go) to the community land where you can cut your own. Pick out the one you want, saw it down, strap it to the roof of the car, bump all the way back down the hill again and you’re ready for adding decorations.
Living here reminds me that not everyone in the whole world lives online. It gives me a totally different perspective on the way others live their lives, and gives me time to breath deeply and unwind 🙂