Life changes. People either learn to adapt to their environment, or they rebel against their surroundings.
I’ve spoken before about living the “American Dream.” I believe it was my first blog post. During that time, I thought I had “made it” and was as happy as I could be. At one point in my life, I was completely consumed with adapting to the current society’s expectations of “normal.” I was my own boss, running my own business, making some serious money as a photographer. We had a house and a car and the option to go on massive shopping sprees ( because we had money!). I spent this money on hair appointments, photography gear, bills, eating out and thrift store shopping. As I look back on this time in my life, I wonder if I frequented those thrift stores not only for “treasure hunting” and finding a good deal on stuff at a cheap price. Did I also venture into these thrift stores because I felt like there was something true, something normal, some basic sort of being that a thrift store embodied. A sense of doing what was right? Saving “junk” from the landfill? Helping others?
Now, I can see that the only part of my life (at that time) that is true for me now…that I still feel is authentic and a correct move toward the future, is venturing into those thrift stores. Of course, money is quite scarce these days since I gave up my “Super Master Photographer” identity. My husband and I still check them out every now and again…usually when we are searching for one particular item, though. These days, we have very little money, so we “thrift” through bartering. We trade stuff that we have excess of for stuff that someone else doesn’t want, or also has excess of.
This “American Dream” society just seems wrong to me. It seems as if it is normal to “live” in a way that is just not practical. Ever since the Industrial Revolution (once gasoline and electricity were introduced) we have began living in a way that humans have never lived before. Don’t get me wrong…it sure has been nice living as a human being in the twentieth century. I get to shower inside. I can turn an oven on with the turn of a knob. I don’t have to scrub my clothes on a washboard or hang them on a clothesline if I want to. I accept that humans have survived as a species for loooong before we had showers and ovens. The critic might state that “we survived without petroleum and electricity before…and we survived. We are resilient. We can bounce back from whatever is thrown at us.” But…really….can we? We are pretty spoiled. I think that people would flip out if they didn’t have their cell phones these days…not to mention no food! So, when I quote “live” at the start of this paragraph, I am speaking of the actual state of breathing and enjoying the world around you. The simple act of living. Why can’t we just live with our families and grow food and cultivate knowledge from our elders without overworking and under nourishing ourselves? Money. Gotta have it? Do we really GOTTA have it THAT bad? Just something that I’ve been thinking about lately.
I don’t really hear a response from those who are involved in my life as to what they really think about how I see the world and how my family lives. I do, however, feel like I can read people’s emotions…and that reading of emotions tells me that they think I am outlandishly, out of this world, abnormal. A sort of “dooms-day-er” you might say. They might tell me that they think I’m silly for thinking that one day we might not have electricity or petroleum products. They might assure me by saying that I should “Enjoy it while we’ve got it” and not worry about the future. I should just keep filling up my car with gas and sit in my air conditioned house happily and remain carefree. Why would I want to concern myself with the “what-ifs” of our future? Why stress about things that aren’t happening? There is one simple answer: I have a Son.
Ayden Zen is the reason why my husband and I do a lot of things that most people view as abnormal. We waste our time gardening when we should really just go buy cheap vegetables at the grocery store. We own chickens…but why do we waste our time with those nasty things when we could just buy free range organic eggs in a styrofoam (petroleum product) egg carton from a farm that has “happy chickens” who emit eggs high in Omega 3’s? We store food and collect rain water. We drink raw milk. We use “We can believe it’s real butter”.
But…we are crazy hippies.
Oh…add in that neither one of us have a 9 to 5 Job, health insurance OR life insurance…and we are just irresponsible crazy hippies.
I feel that there are things that we see that others can’t. Maybe they could if they could get past classifying us as lazy good-for-nothings. My husband and I are both present in our son’s life…almost each and every day. We don’t stick him in a daycare for 9 hours a day, come home in time to feed him a frozen meal and put him to bed. I truly hope that will NEVER happen, actually.
We don’t get much support here in our little town of Boiling Springs, SC. We have found a few ‘good ole’ boys’ who know how to farm, but no one quite like us. We are working on building up this little community we dream of by creating foods to sell (sauerkraut, vegetables, mead, hard apple cider, hot sauce, bread, eggs). We have the lifelong hoard of Wendy that we hope to sell at yard sales and weekend swap meets. Once we pay off my husband’s truck (only $3500 away!) we will be able to pay ALL of our bills by the check that I receive once a week for hosting and updating a businesses’ Facebook page. Once that truck is paid off…our bills (ALL OF THEM) can be handled by an income of $100 a week.
Our goal for this family is to live simply and authentically. I cannot express to you how HAPPY life has become for me in the past 5 months. I catch myself wallowing in my own bliss all of the time. I gaze at my son and squeeze his chunky cheeks and tickle him so that I can hear his laughter. I bat my eyes at my husband and tell him how much I love him. I thank my Aunt for all she has done for us by welcoming us into her home…and almost start crying tears of joy while speaking to her.
Outside of Aunt Brenda, our family ties are very thin here, sadly. We moved here to be closer to my side of the family…who, unfortunately, has only been a problem for us. This February we decided to move into my Aunt Brenda’s home. She offered for us to come live with her after the death of her husband of 19 years. He had Parkinson’s disease and my Aunt promised him that she would take care of him until he passed away. She kept him out of a nursing home and took care of him in their home. He died here, as promised. We decided to take her up on her offer, and quickly found a renter for our house in Rock Hill, SC. We figured that we could form a mutual symbiotic relationship by moving here. We could take care of Aunt Brenda as she aged and needed help getting older…and she could provide a shelter for our family. It has worked extremely well so far! 🙂
But oh…little did we know when we moved here that there would be unseen struggles. From MY FAMILY. Ugh…. I am even sickened to call them that. I am embarrassed of their backwoods crazy. Seriously. I wonder about their mental capacity. The short version is: Aunt Brenda is a giver and my Mother’s brother (other uncle), his wife and their daughter are takers. They have been mooching up her money for years. So, when we came rollin’ in to live with her, they used their crazy-hick-senses and mongoloid actions to try to scare us off. It didn’t work. They see us as the newest moochers in Aunt Brenda’s life…but the truth is: She begged for us to come live with her. We have a great thing going her in our little combined household that my own FAMILY can’t respect.
And oh, OH yes…now my own MOTHER is on board with this craziness. She recently asked me when my husband was going to go back to work. A few days later, she told me that soon one of us (myself or my husband) needed to get a “REAL JOB.” Nice. Thanks for that support there, Mother. Here we are trying to build a sustainable future for our family by preparing ourselves for the unseen…but it more important that we stick Ayden in daycare and go work our butts off for money so that we can go buy junk and have money in the bank. Money in the bank, with a son whose parents are absent and miserable. Yeah, that sounds like something that might make Mother proud.
Anyhow, once again, I write this blog and tell these stories in a shortened version. My sister is a family exception…but she is young and concerned more with her friends and her job than with her mostly absent older sister (we are 10 years apart in age–I was in college and trying to become an adult while she was in middle school and high school).
I write this blog as sort of a personal online journal (an oxymoron, really). I write mostly for myself. I have been doing LOTS of self exploration lately. I also write in hopes that if someone happens to peruse through my neck of the blog-o-sphere, my story might intrigue, inspire…or allow them to relate.
So, if you’re reading…I hope you enjoy my journey. I also hope that you’ll put some thought into the following questions:
* How would you and your family adapt to a world with no electricity or running water?
* How would this world change if we had no petroleum products? If they ceased to exist or were no longer created? (Gasoline, Plastic, etc.)
* Do you think you could survive?
A few things to think about:
– Most grocery stores only have a three day supply of food. What would the typical American do if all grocery stores were no longer supplied with food?
– The average length that a food item travels in the U.S. to get to your supermarket is 2,000 miles.
– Our infrastructure is designed around vehicles. What if those food transport vehicles had no fuel? How would you obtain the goods you need without being able to drive your car to gather them?
I suggest that you start thinking locally, plant a garden, and build a community of like-minded folks to surround yourself “Just in case” the proverbial feces hits the fan. Won’t you feel silly and become regretful if you didn’t take the the necessary steps to protect your family’s well being?
It is okay if you choose to pass these questions off as the ramblings of a lazy, good for nothing hippy. You are your own person, you make your own decisions. I always say that life would be boring if we all thought the same and liked the same things. I also say…natural selection is a bitch, and so is karma 😉
“Be part of the future, or be left behind” is a quote from one of our favorite movies, “Rango”. Interpret it as you will.