• 2020.09.08
  • Lifestyle vs. survival
I’m sure that all of us have experienced a variety of emotions since the pandemic started placing restrictions on our lives
How we feel might be different depending on our living environment, our internal state, or our age. Perhaps all three.

About a week into the lockdown in Portugal, I contacted some friends in Lisbon to see how they were doing. The family of four—a husband working from home, two rambunctious kids, and a wife taking care of the household—were all living in an apartment together 24-7. Although they had begun a trying way of life, they were quite positive about their situation—saying that everyone was healthy and that the family had grown closer together. Still, they were overcome with worry and couldn’t hide their negative feelings.
The source of the worry? Finances.
The husband works for an IT company, so it was easy to transition to working from home. It wasn’t because the amount of work was decreasing, either. They were worried because they were thinking about what would happen if the amount of work completely dropped off in the future and they lost their income.

At a time where the future is a complete unknown, everyone carries a vague sense of unease. But I realized that the issue of survival has a very different cast depending on whether you live in the city or in the countryside.
People in the city essentially have to rely on money to survive. They need it to purchase the food and drinks that are critical to life. But people in the countryside may not even need money to get the food and drinks they need to live.
We have a farm at our house. We also have a pond (well). We have livestock. Even if we didn’t have anything to eat or drink at home, the area is surrounded by a bountiful natural environment not too far away.
We have absolutely no worries about our survival.

But what about our lifestyle?

A warm house, stylish clothes, sweet frozen treats, a comfortable bed, gourmet food and restaurants, easy access, spicy tea in a fancy cup, floral soap, talented physicians, cool stores… all these things are taken for granted. If you want to live a life where you want for nothing, you have no choice but to live in the city.
Even if you live in a rural area, I think it’s normal to want to maintain the living conditions you’re used to, or even improve them. That’s because once human beings get accustomed to a comfortable lifestyle, they don’t want to let it go—even if their survival is at stake.
We’re the type of creatures that would want to go out to the bar and enjoy a drink with friends, even if it meant skipping a meal.

Lifestyle versus survival. If you couldn’t count on having an income in the future, which would you choose?


  • Megumi Ota
  • JobConservator, interpreter, and coordinator / Insitu (restoration), Kaminari-sama / Novajika, and others

I’m a conservator and preservationist living in Portugal. I specialize primarily in paintings (murals) and gold leaf design, and am involved with UNESCO World Heritage structures as well as the interior of the Palace of Belém. I derive great satisfaction from having close ties to my community in the rural village near the Silver Coast where I live. My hobby is gardening.

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