Thursday, January 28, 2010

Back to the (Future) Land

Did I sound preachy yesterday and the day before? Oh, I hope not!

Maybe it’s my age, but I no longer have many wants. I look around the house and yard, here, just off the one-lane road, and see clothing I no longer wear; items of one kind or another we no longer use or need. So, I’m talking to myself, truly! I believe this is partially what spring cleaning is all about! It’s time for me to send this unused and unwanted “stuff” on to its “second time around” owner. I’m guilty of not doing the same thing I’m advocating: if I am not using it, I need to pass it on (providing it’s fit to use!)

Neither was I advocating ditching a job in favor of taking a fling at self-sufficiency, but rather suggesting we all are exploring continually where we would like to be.

If, on the other hand, one were to find themselves in a situation where an outside job was reduced or eliminated quite suddenly, (not uncommon nowadays) with few prospects for changing the situation any time soon-- maybe it puts a different light on the quest for self-sufficiency. I’ve wondered if the current state of affairs economically in this country wouldn’t spark another so-called “back-to-the-land” movement similar to what we had in the late 1960’s and early ‘70’s. Curiosity led me to Wikipedia and sure enough, there are indications that people are, indeed, once again exploring rural living.  Throughout history, it seems there have been various “back-to-the-land “movements” stretching back to just before the fall of the Roman Empire. These have occurred largely because urban circumstances became intolerable, and people, trying to survive, envisioned a better life for themselves in the hinterlands outside  urbania.

Several have sprouted up in America: people homesteaded during The Great Depression; and, after World War II Veterans returning home sought a “meaningful” life and there was a strong interest in moving to rural circumstances. You might enjoy a book that was well known to me as a child since I lived in the Pacific Northwest, called The Egg and I by Betty McDonald. It’s a hilarious account of going back to the land in the 1940’s. Eventually it became a movie, starring Fred McMurray and Claudette Colbert.

One of the most significant things about the movement of the 60’s and 70’s was the size of it. It was also interesting to me to know that the movement was fueled by “rampant consumerism.”  I was  also surprised to discover that there is now an antonym to Consumerism—a “movement” if you will, called Enoughism.

I found both historical accounts fascinating and was somewhat nostalgic thinking back to my dog-earred copies of the Whole Earth Catalog and Mother Earth News (for whom I wrote a couple of articles.) There are many links in both Wiki entries that are just fun to follow out. Do take the time to browse it. Perhaps most significant is the overview of who “succeeded” at being a back-to-the-lander and the three most critical needs in order to do so. I’ll leave that up to you to discover.

The prospect of finding a small piece of ground for a garden, a milk cow, some chickens-- becomes very attractive, especially to supplement a pared-down income. Remember the old phrase, “I am not my job?” The implication is that you have an identity beyond what you do to earn a few dollars with the idea being that the job may take less of one’s soul to accomplish it, with something left over for tending to the chores and joys at home.

Those who would choose such a route probably won’t ever get to the point of flying off to Alaska in a red float plane to watch jumping whales “anytime you and Susie decide you want to,” but given the right attitude, they’ll probably enjoy life every bit as much if not more.

Have fun with exploring!

1 comment:

  1. Ruta M.
    I think that many people are at least growing their own vegetables and some people at least are begining to see that this rampant consumerism is unnecessary.But realistically the biggest proportion of peoples' living costs is housing and fuel/energy costs and all too often there is little you can do about them apart from insulation and efficient usage.In this country many older people have poor heating or are too worried to use the heating they have.I'm sitting here with 2 jumpers, fingerless gloves and a blanket over my knees but actually it is the breathing in of cold damp air that causes so much illness in older people. Of course energy efficient houses can be built with minimal heating costs but how many people can think of moving to a new build house. In this country housing is incredibly expensive and now they say that young (both working) couples would not be able to afford a deposit and mortgage for their first home until they are in their early 30's. It's all very worrying.