Where are you based? by ellie berry


Where are you based?


Recently, a friend from many years ago messaged me about one of my projects. It was fantastic to hear from someone after so long, and as I was writing my reply I typed out the simple line “where are you based these days?”. I then sat there watching the little curser blink at me for a moment or two. It felt like such a ridiculous concept - people no long just “live” somewhere, but they’re “based” there instead, ready to be swept up in a strong wind and fly off to a new location.

The a few days later, I sleepily stood waiting for my coffee to brew, and I thought about this again. So many artists I know use the term “based in X”, and the more I thought about it, the more alienated I was by the word. There is no living, just existing in a place that can be utilised. Comparing the connotations I have between “based” and “lives'', they speak to me of two completely different experiences. If I am living somewhere, I am in that place, experiencing and contributing to it in some way. When I think of the word based I’m struck with the feeling of disconnected globalisation. And the fact that this word is so prevalent within artist’s descriptions feels wrong to me. When I think about what it means to be an artist or creative person, I think I can assume that quite often creative ideas are only born because of lived experience - be that through research, experimentation, documentation, an epiphany as you do the dishes.

So why this disconnect from locality? If we are based as opposed to living somewhere, does that allow us to have an outside or objective viewpoint of that community/society/way of life? Is that necessary?


After a while I remember that I’m supposed to be making coffee, and decide to leave such extensional musings for when I’ve woken up a bit more.


Living by Default by ellie berry

It's hard, to decide what to write sometimes. While living in a tent has obviously changed my lifestyle, I don't find it to be something scary or "other-worldly". My main concerns have changed from how many hours I'm going to work this week, to what day it is, and if the bakery opens at 6:30 or 7am. I realise how while I was part of "civilisation", I was doing nothing to improve or advance my standing or what I wanted to do - and why should I. Why should, when I move back to the city and back to what I am told I should count and refer to as reality, should I be content? Is advancing my standing in the world really what I want? The only reason I would move back, would be to work to have more money - and I only need to work if I want to move back. 
Of course, I am not being completely unrealistic and living in a daydream. I have college in September, I have a job from which I booked a certain amount of time off of, I have responsibilities and if I want to continue doing the things I want and living the way I am, I have to respond to those responsibilities. What I am questioning, is how when one is living in a place that offers so many opportunities for one to further doing what we love, does one end up in a rut, working a job that doesn't mean anything to them, paying too much to live in a house they don't like?

While you can say that I haven't really left the comforts of modern luxury - right now, I am typing this post on my laptop as I sit in the porch of the tent - it has taken this removal from the world for me to realise what is important.

Recently, I read an article by David Cain about how most people live their lives by default. His website, Raptitude, contains the following sentences on it's About page; 

"The fascinating thing is everyone wants to be happier, yet relatively few people make a point of learning the skills that really make a difference in their level of happiness. Instead they pursue bigger incomes and nicer furniture."

I have a job - between forty and fifty of my hours will be up for sale once I return to Dublin, and all of them will probably be bought up, depending on how many tourists decide to visit my fair city this summer. In this economic climate, I ought to be happy. I live independently, I am in college, studying something I am truly interested in. I have applied to study abroad for half of next year and I will hopefully be granted to in three months. I have a boyfriend and am an active outdoors person. I should be content. 

My life fits into the same stream of Jamie, the character referenced in David's blog post. I have become caught up in the monotony of existing as opposed to living. The only thing I have done to break out of this hamster wheel is this move to living in a tent. These five weeks away are showing me how what I was valuing before, and what I actually value, while I am proud to say are similar enough, were not the exact same. Why should it be hard to pursue what it truly is you want in life? What makes breaking from the flow of people so difficult? 

Looking at David's blog, there are four major points to all our lives: 

  • Where we live
  • What we do for a living
  • What we do with our free time
  • Who we spend most of our time with. 

Making a major change in one of these areas will result in a change in the feel and quality of your day-to-day life. It can become better, or it can become worse. No one will know until they have initiated the change. This uncertainty is enough to keep most people from bothering.

"But they should bother, as a rule. Day to day life is more likely to get better than worse, because a deliberate change gives you a chance to see if your new situation resonates with you or not, and gives you a second angle of the old one. If the new situation does resonate, then you’re closer to finding what’s right for you, what’s optimal for your sense of well-being."

My first change has been to come here to France. Right now, my arms ache, my feet have more mosquito bites than I want to acknowledge, and my back is now slightly sun burnt. But I wouldn't change it. Living in opposed to existing, as the new cliche seems to go.