Most people wouldn’t guess my history from looking at me, or even speaking with me, and I have to admit to liking it that way. I wouldn’t say it’s been a long road, that sounds entirely too self pitying and trite, but there have been times it’s seemed long. I’ve led a very intentional life though, and that’s provided the energy needed to push through even the most difficult passages.
My earliest years were about survival. That’s the easiest (briefest, least messy) way to sum it up. (So that you don’t think I am saying all of my ‘intentions’ have been altruistic- I merely mean to imply ‘focused’.) That changed when I had my daughter, and life became about her. I centred my whole world around one perfect being and that served me quite well for many years. When she died, a little over a year and a half ago, I found myself in desperate need of grounding, and purpose.
The world is a chaotic, sometimes surreal place to live in. It’s easy, at least for me, to get caught up in all of the crazy things that people do or the details of what ‘must’ be done in order to get along in society. It’s easy to be angry. I admit to having spent a lot of time there. There’s nothing really brave about anger though, is there? Unless it leads to some action, which it seldom does, there’s no real point to it other than that it’s easier than actually determining a path and having the courage to follow it through.
Don’t get me wrong- I am bothered by a lot of what I see happening around me. Shane and I have long and frequent discussions on politics, and the economy, and society, and war, and… I’m quite frustrated with the direction I see we (society) are headed in, like lemmings to a cliff. And, of course, I miss my child. But ultimately I need to maintain my own personal direction, the only thing that I have any real control over.
I can’t say that I knew where we were headed when we started on this off-grid, natural building ‘thing’. We had some vague concept of ‘providing for ourselves’, of spending our time together rather than off somewhere working to pay someone else for our needs and our wants, of aligning our lives more closely with our values. Some notion of not paying into a system neither of us is inclined to support on ethical grounds. Some inkling of teaching others how to do the same, a small but life affirming rebellion. All very romantic.
Those of you who have followed our blog know that, for the most part, it’s been anything but romantic. It’s a lot of hard work, which I don’t mind but… It’s a lot of hard work. And I still find myself utterly discombobulated a lot of the time. “How? What? Why? Where? And then I what?” There’s a lot to learn, and soooooo many adjustments. There are times when I just want to drive to Second Cup and order up a caramel corretto, go shopping all day and not think about anything. Of course that’s now a 4 hour drive and I’m entirely too practical to get any enjoyment out of spending money frivolously so it’s a fleeting, albeit satisfying, daydream.
I also find myself sometimes stuck between two groups of people, not quite belonging to either camp. There are my friends who live in the city and continue to, more or less, enjoy lives much like my own used to be. And there are the newfound friends we’ve made along the way, many of whom have been living off-grid and/or been self reliant for a good deal of time. I can’t fully relate to either group. I get a lot of “are you crazy?” looks from the former group, and a lot of raised eyebrows that seem to ask, “are you retarded?” from the latter. Neither, thank you, just learning and maybe not on the fastest curve possible. Thankfully most of my friends seem to have endless patience with me, and I think I provide amusement, maybe occasionally bemusement. I think my daughter would have been more amused than any, but also proud of me.
I am learning. And I do have purpose and direction in my life. Which is crucial, no, because I don’t think that life is meant to simply be a test of endurance and I think that’s how it would feel without some clear connection to what I’m doing. I may not understand the details of what I’m doing, the mechanics of it all, but I know what I’m doing. If that makes sense. There’s a connection… And it helps, immensely, that it’s a vision I share with my husband, a man I respect and adore with all of my being.
The further we get into this- the building with earth, building soil, building gardens, using resources carefully and sparingly, giving more than we are taking- the more grounded I feel.
At the end of the day, I feel good about what I’m doing. What we’re doing. I don’t think it’s an easy road, for anyone, but it does help to know where you’re going- if not, entirely, how you’re going to get there.