I watched the movie "Far and Away" again with Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, and even second time around felt the thrill of the great pioneering age of laying claim to land and building that homesteading dream. The possibilities are imagined as endless and idyllic.
Real life carried on after the movie.... and I got to thinking about what life must have really been like out there on those lonely plains. No internet to cruise, no happy-making movie to watch. And no-one to talk to all day for most of them - men or women. The workload would have been exhausting as pushed by the demands of each season. It took great courage to face that aloneness, I think, and still keep the dream alive. When children came the demands would have grown at first as each new-comer made its own demands. But as the family grew each member would have had an increasingly important role to play. The family would have become closely knit in the common struggle to make a living. Honour and character had meaning and value back then.
Were they self-sufficient? They had to be, or they would not survive. But is it possible today? Would our mindset accept the many limitations imposed by producing everything for ourselves? Do we have the same scope for success in such a goal in this age, or is it a myth?
Personally, I think it a myth in today's world for most. We do not have the huge range to go and hunt our meat. We do not have the freedom to make the choice to do so even should we be near such wild abundance, nor even every choice we might want on our own land. Every part of life is regulated in order to be taxed and re-taxed. We would have to fall off the grid as a person and go and live in one of the remaining wildernesses. I have read some interesting books by some who have done just that for a while. The loneliness was a real enemy to be faced, especially when snowed into a tiny cabin with only a dog, beloved and faithful though he be, as company.
But that all said, I still believe a shift toward self-sustainability - no matter how partial - is a wonderfully enriching experience. And if done in community, then the increase in benefits is exponential. Skills and produce can be shared or bartered. People can become valuable and appreciated again; from the youngest to the oldest. Society could heal its wounds slowly and surely. Could I give up the advantages of our techno age? Nope. And why should I? It can be incorporated into the dream. We would not be sharing ideas right now without it!
Just some thoughts...
Until next time,
Saving the Honeybee
11 months ago