Paradigm Lost, or How I Built a Natural Lifestyle With No Money Down  

Posted by Dave in


I grew up in the country. Being self sufficient, at least to some degree was a way of life not a lifestyle choice. As our ancestors did, we grew, foraged, or raised much of our own food. But we were not stuck in the stone age. We embraced mechanization to the extent that it helped, though not for the sake of technology or keeping up with the neighbors. For a time we even tried chemicals and fertilizers, though after watching yields spike up then creep down, and watching the tilth of the soil become more and more dependent upon them, we abandoned them without so much as a junkie's remorse.

Like many kids, I grew up and thought that abandoning the rural lifestyle for the glamorous, materialistic city lifestyle would be more exciting. And it was. But it was not healthy, and like all things unhealthy, it was not sustainable. After the madness of a corporate day, a miserable commute, and all the problems that follow from making a living not a life, I quit. Cold turkey.

I bought a restaurant in my old home town, and for a while it was great. But still, things weren't as they should be. I worked round the clock and seldom left the store. Still that was not the problem. I never minded working, I loved the work anyway, and besides any dairy farmer will tell you he seldom gets time off. But where was the connection to sanity I sought?

I started a garden and began to preserve the excess. I canned, I froze, I dehydrated. I fermented, I pickled, I vacuum sealed. I worked fresh stuff into my menu. And I found that the production of the ingredients was at least as satisfying as cooking them, and certainly more than selling to folks who maybe were just too busy to notice any difference. I became healthier, both in body and in spirit. I began to notice the taste of everyday life. My purposes were more important, more honorable than chasing the excitement. But I found that those who were addicted to the lifestyle no longer wanted to be a part of my life. Like any addict, I had to decide, did I want to hang with the addicts or go on and try to improve myself. Did I make the right choice? Its too subjective to tell, I suppose. But more and better thing have happened to me that would never have happened had I ignored the urge to "go clean", and forgo the "lifestyle". I still love the excitement of the city, but in a newer, fresher way. Of course, to some extent, I suppose, I am still a consumer, but in a less self destructive, and hopefully more thoughtful way.

Perhaps our society is following a similar path. Perhaps we are, as a culture, experiencing much the same transformation. Perhaps the popularity of gardening and the resurgence of more natural lifestyles are a reflection of a society that is ready to mature, to "go back home". It is unfortunate that many individuals may have forgotten the methods and the paths of going back, but as long as there are folks trying to remember, maybe we all can go home.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 1:40 PM and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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