Sunday, July 12, 2009

The world ends with you (standing shotgun in hand above your vegetable patch)

What I'm Listening To: something on Investigation Discovery

What I'm Doing: reading internet articles about being alone.

From Old MacDonald Had A Farmers’ Market –
total self-sufficiency is a noble, misguided ideal

The idea of self-reliance is so deep in our psyches, however, that even when we attempt to escape from the unhappy and unsustainable cul-de-sac of our society, we’re likely to turn toward yet more “independence.” The “back-to-the-land” movement, for instance, often added the words “by myself.” Think about how proudly a certain kind of person talks about his “off-the-grid” life — he makes his own energy and grows his own food, he can deal with whatever the world throws at him. One such person may be left-wing in politics (à la Scott and Helen Nearing); another may be conservative. But they are united in their lack of need for the larger world. Not even to school their kids — they’ll take care of that as well.

Such folks are admirable, of course — they have a wide variety of skills now missing in most Americans; they’re able to amuse themselves; they work hard. But as an ideal, especially an economic ideal, that radical self-reliance strikes me as being almost as empty as the consumer society from which it dissents. Consider, for instance, the idea of growing all your own food. It’s clearly better than relying on food from thousands of miles away — from our current industrialized food economy, which figures “it’s always summer somewhere” and so orders take-out from that distant field every night of the year. Compared with that, an enormous garden and a root cellar full of all you’ll need for the winter is virtue incarnate. But if you believe in many of the (entirely plausible) horror stories about what’s to come — peak oil, climate change — then the world ends with you standing shotgun in hand above your vegetable patch, protecting your carrots from the poaching urban horde.

From How to Drop Out
It is a path and not a destination. And you walk the path not by disconnecting from the rest of the world, but by engaging it in an intelligent and creative way, instead of in one of the disempowering ways that are made to look like the only ways. The myth of the pure and total outsider is one of those disempowering ways. It's a trick designed to make you set an impossible goal, get discouraged, and give up.
This is how I feel about my life. It's about the journey, not the destination. I don't care where I go in life, as long as I have a good time getting there. I could happily spend the rest of my life on the road, just driving around to place to place, seeking out all the little out-of-the-way restaurants and spectacular, historic areas. I think this is what drives my wanderlust. I don't want to be trapped into a single stall for the rest of my life - as the Japanese say, a frog in the well doesn't know the ocean.

When I say that to people, they often go "WTF?" Basically, it means expand your horizons. If the frog spends it's whole life in the well, all it will ever know is the circular stone walls, and the little bit of water and sky that are immediately visible to it. But if it gets out of the well, it can see the ocean and everything that it's been missing it's whole life. That's me. And that's the driving force behind what makes me tick.

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