I am at the Harn for a week of solitude. Dan is heading back to work after our weekend of major projects and I’m staying until he returns next weekend. It should be an interesting experience and a chance for me to get a taste of what Harn Life will be. As we make progress on final systems for our place and draw closer to being at the Harn full-time, some are asking what this will mean. And I’m still trying to figure that out myself.
I know it seems sometimes to me, and I’m sure to many, that I’m expecting Utopia. While I am hopeful for a lot of good to come (otherwise, why would I be doing it!), I do have some realistic ideas of what this will mean… working to grow food and living more lightly on the land is going to take some adjustment. It won’t be an easy transition but it’s one I want to try to make. If it is completely unworkable, I can always go back to the rat race! But we have some basic goals: using less fossil fuel, spending more time being cognizant of our use of resources, working to live more sustainably, having less impact on Mother Earth, and living more simply than we have been most of our lives.
Before I left for this week at the Harn, I watched a documentary sent by Keith Johnson, a Permaculture friend from Indiana. It’s called A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity and you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=XUwLAvfBCzw
This film is set Down Under but it remains pertinent to the U.S. as we all share one globe and there are many similarities between their culture and ours. I found it to be inspiring and was excited by the project these people undertook. I was not surprised that there was struggle. I believe any worthy endeavor will have its share of struggle. And though I am ignorant today of all the struggle we will face as we make our own transition, I am ready for the challenge. I think it will come in unexpected ways, as it usually does! But some of the things I expect I believe will turn out better than I hoped. For example, we recently cleaned out some humi-buckets (buckets full of poop for the uninitiated) and it was MUCH easier than I expected it to be. Very easy cleanup and truly a vast improvement on the current system most people use today of pooping in potable water and flushing it away. One of the worst jobs in housekeeping is cleaning the toilet. With a humanure system it’s actually much easier to clean and maintain, not to mention a HUGE savings on potable water usage!! So simplicity has its advantages.
There are sure to be disadvantages or at least what appear to be disadvantages from my current perspective.
- We will not be eating out at restaurants like we do these days. We won’t be in town for one thing and we will want to live on a much smaller budget for another. But will this be a downside? I am hoping it will mean a more healthy diet, a more sustainable diet and one that may even result in becoming more fit! That is one expectation I hope is fulfilled… becoming more fit.
- We will have less social interactions and opportunities for entertainment. While we can head to Bemidji for some culture, we plan to not head to town at every whim which will mean more limited access to people and amusement. But, will this be a downside? I am hoping to find more time to play the flute I made at Rec Lab last year and to entertain myself making crafts and upcycling. I’m wondering if this will be an even more fulfilling life than buying or observing entertainment has been to date. And I’m wondering if the social things might just come to us. We have friends a couple miles down the road and I’m hopeful we will cultivate visitors that will bring serendipity and whimsy to our days as we settle in the new neighborhood.
- We will have less income. The goal eventually is for neither of us to be working full-time jobs outside the home and so, this will mean less monetary resources. But perhaps the time we have will allow us to create income or barter opportunities that are preferable to giving the lion’s share of our weeks to an employer. And surely living more simply will require much less income. It seems to be a rule of salary that, as it grows, so do your expenditures. And as it shrinks, so should our expenditures! But I believe we will have everything that’s important and one of the goals of living a more simple life is to determine what those things are.
As you can see, I’m optimistic. Those of you who know me expect no less than this! I am always trying to see the bright side and find the positive. I am hopeful that will help as I look to making this transition. From the film I watched, I found a wonderful resource on ideas about this new way of life. I plan to spend some time reading what they have to share. [And yes, Dan and I are hopeful for plenty of time for reading in this new way of life.] http://simplicityinstitute.org/ This is a terrific article explaining The Simpler Way http://theconversation.com/the-simple-life-manifesto-and-how-it-could-save-us-33081
I encourage you to consider whether some simpler ways of life could bring not deprivation or hardship but real enjoyment, peace and happiness. I’ll keep you posted on my journey!!