The decision has been made. 2015 will be my Year Of Liveability. I’ve already mentioned it to a few people and all have asked “What does liveability mean?” Some asked more by quizzical expression than actual words.
The first problem I encounter is spelling. Dictionaries prefer “livability”, but acknowledge that it can also be spelt with the “e”. I’ve adopted the spelling I’m comfortable with; the one that visually stresses and leaves us in no doubt that it’s the ability to live one’s life and not some mis-spelling of luv.
Some synonyms popped up: enjoyable, bearable, worthwhile. The first two aren’t what I have in mind. My life is already enjoyable enough and, when compared to what many in this world endure, I cannot complain. The idea of worthwhile is worth pursuing.
Generally speaking, liveability indexes focus on countries and cities. These indexes are created using life-satisfaction surveys and measurements of divorce rates and crime rates. They include comparisons of infrastructure, availability of goods and services, culture and environment, education, healthcare and stability.
So, my first task will be to work out what liveability at the individual level might mean?
The idea started with a radio broadcast on 14 December. I didn’t hear the broadcast but found the transcript when browsing the Radio National website. On “Ockham’s Razor”, Melvin Bolton was talking about Professor John Haldane’s essay “On Being the Right Size”. Melvin mused on the idea of right sizes for cities and mentioned the idea of liveability.
I first considered calling this the Year Of Right Sizing, but it turns out someone has already co-opted the term for a book about cupboards and shelves. I want to get the cupboards and shelves sorted out, but I want more than that.
One of the rules for a successful Year Of is the choice of title. It must be focused enough to ensure some progress but broad enough to contain space for exploring. The idea of liveability seems to stretch from horizon to horizon, and suddenly I’m wondering if there is more than one horizon, and with that thought I realise that Liveability is the right title.
As for the other rules, the Year Of Liveability is certainly foundational in its focus. I expect it to set up supportive habits that benefit various activities. And it builds upon previous themes that focussed on improving diet and levels of activity. It particularly builds upon the internal nagging I’ve experienced during 2014. After four years of part-time study, there was much in my life that needed reinvigorating. I’ve made a start in the garden, in my home office and on my blog.
Perhaps the idea behind Liveability is to ensure that the effort I put into that reinvigoration is worthwhile.
Bolton, M. “Finding the right size”, Ockham’s Razor, broadcast on ABC Radio National 14 December 2014.