Monday, January 25, 2016

Choosing a Simple Life in a Complex World

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Like so many of my posts, this one started as a conversation. My wife found out about a lady that makes homemade soaps not far from where we live. After a bit of a nap, I got cleaned up and was ready to go visit this wonderful lady. After we looked at the map, I realized that I had noticed the store before, but we had never stopped.

When we arrived the store was unlocked, but no one was in the store. There was a nice little note that stated that if Suzy wasn't available just leave the money in a jar in the fridge and not to worry because she had done this for 10 years. We looked around for a while and Suzy did make it to the store. I am very glad she did. She had about 5 or 6 varieties of soap on sale and said that her selection was always changing. The small store was a mixture of older books, Amish cheeses and jellies, farm fresh eggs, home grown herbs, and of course her homemade soaps. Proudly displayed on the stores counter were copies of her book Simple Times at Old Field Farm which is a compilation of her articles that she had written for the Co-op magazine.

This lady and I are a generation apart and even though we came from different base ideologies, we came to the same end result. Suzy is a self proclaimed former hippy and I was raised backwoods conservative, but we both value freedom and a desire to not be dependent on the systems of support. Both of us have a desire to carve out our own piece of the world without the intrusion of governmental or corporate entities. 

I really enjoyed talk with Suzy. She is much further along the path of self sufficiency than I. I was encouraged just by being able to talk with her at length. Suzy had managed to do something that many of us aspire to and many more never realize how fulfilling a life can be. She owns her own business which provides for herself. She heats with wood that is harvested on her property.

What Did We Talk About?

 The Back To The Land Movement

More and more people are trying to live a more simple and sustainable life. Suzy has seen a couple of these movements and has seen a couple of them wain. We both believe that the current movement is more sustainable than the movements in the past. One of the reasons for this is people are trying to be more sustainable right where they are. In back to the land movements of the past people have tried to move out of the cities or high population areas. While there is some of this occurring now, it is not the principle driver. People are looking at the land they have and are trying to improve their sustainability exactly where they are. Urban and suburban homesteads are popping up everywhere. People all over are learning the old skills. Knitting, soap making, gardening, keeping chickens, are growing at a rate that I have never seen and these are occurring in areas that most would think unlikely.

There Are People Who Want to Stop You

Suzy told a story about how a man approached her at the local farmers co-op and told her a story about how his daughter had horrible allergies and that he was looking for someone to sell them raw goats milk because he had heard that this would be good for his daughter. She told him that she was sorry, but she wasn't set up to sell milk to anyone and that even if she wanted to her nannies were dry at the time. It turns out that the man was trying to set her up and he was the owner of a large goat dairy in the southern part of the state. This man proved that there are people who will do anything to hurt people that they see as a threat in any way.  This is deplorable.

Corporations are Never Satisfied

I love my state, but it does have its problems. One of these problems is just how many of our politicians are owned by corporate interests. One of the big corporations actually tried to make it illegal to sell homemade soaps. I am glad that there was no way that this could happen, at least for now. This still just goes to illustrate how much power and greed have influenced the business and political world. Corporations just cannot stand the thought that there are people who are forging a world in spite of  and outside of them.

Use the System When You Can, But Don't Betray Your Principles

This is one where she really made me rethink my stance on several opportunities. This lady writes for the co-op magazine regularly. She gets paid for writing and admits that she is often "in trouble" with the co-op for her writings, but they are popular enough that they keep on paying her. Her writings and world view are in stark contrast to the views of the co-op as a whole. The Farmer's Coop is the largest sellers of agricultural chemicals and gmo seeds in the state, yet this genteel woman stands in stark contrast to the public stance of the system. She has a lot of respect from me in that. 

Every Step Toward Self Sustainability is Worth Wild

 Whenever you talk to someone who is truly interested in self sustainability they will always ask if you are living a sustainable life. The honest answer for almost everyone is (or at least should be) "I am working toward it". Very few in the sustainability community would dare say if you aren't completely sustainable you aren't doing enough. We all know that it is a journey or pathway. Every step takes us closer to freedom and liberty. 

When you happen to meet a person that is living a life closer to what you are wanting, take the time to listen. Show respect, they have been on the path longer than you have and will normally be more than willing to share the lessons they have learned. It is almost always worth the time and effort.

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