The last time I lived out in the country, I was miserable and angry about it. This was in 2006, at the missionary school. There were a lot of things that made it a miserable place for me, and many things to be angry about, but being out in the country didn’t help. It was a half hour drive to the nearest WalMart in any direction, and my cell phone didn’t work. The wireless internet only worked within about 30 feet from the offices. Part of what really kept me sane during that time was letters and postcards from friends – most of whom were shaking their heads, wondering why I had chosen that life when there were so many better ways for me to make my mark on the world.
Moving to the country this time has not been so drastic. I can get everything I need within about 15 miles and I am fortunate that the vehicle I bought outright nine years ago is still serving me well. There are friends, pubs, libraries, grocers and activities within that distance, and after fighting with the phone company for six months after I moved here, we finally got Internet access. I can easily articulate what I am missing from city life: stores besides WalMart that are open after 7 PM and “better” jobs (although that is completely relative; the better paying jobs tend to be worse for my overall health).
My sweetheart has dreams for a piece of property. It’s about 113 acres, with camping structures, cabins, a pond, a swimming pool, a meeting hall with kitchen, and a 2-bedroom house. Electricity, plumbing and a well are already integrated with the structures. It is an absolutely perfect place to start an intentional community. The idea is to set up a non-profit organization that teaches sustainable living to children and adults. An intentional community would live on the land, facilitate camps and workshops, and do the work that is necessary turn this little bit of earth into something productive, useful and even more beautiful. The flat land seems perfect for gardens and friendly creatures, while the wooded areas could likely be turned into a food forest after some effort. Perhaps one of the best features, in my mind, is that it is now nestled into a populated area that has grown up over the past 80 or so years since the property was first established as a campground. Downtown is a 10-15 minute drive away, the interstates are close, and the metropolitan area is home to many schools, colleges and other organizations that may be interested in bringing groups of students or individuals to learn about sustainable agriculture.
The price is a very big number that I don’t really even want to mention right now. Money keeps a lot of good people from doing a lot of good things. For the moment, however, I think that it is possible to set aside worries about money and dream fearlessly of a different way of living. Sustainable living doesn’t have to mean abject poverty, or swearing off modern technology entirely. What I think it does is reconnect humanity with the earth we came from, and perhaps fuel in us a desire to see those resources used to their fullest potential.
Being a city girl for the majority of my life has meant having a lot of junk. At this very moment, I’m sitting in bed typing on my computer, one of four internet-connected devices that I own. I am surrounded by junk. After purging probably half of my earthly possessions before moving to North Carolina, I am still overwhelmed by the quantity of things in my life. How many hours have I wasted fishing through these things for the exact thing that I thought I needed? How much money have I wasted on things that I have only used a few times, or that serve only one purpose? All this junk is stealing from me. It is robbing me of my joy, and it has to go. Organization is not my problem. You cannot organize clutter. You can only get rid of it. And I mean to.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have had such rich experiences around campfires. Not camping campfires. Just simple backyard autumn fires. I was given a proper knife, one such as everyone should have, and which I have never owned. In my mind, a knife is/was either a weapon or a cooking utensils. But as I have begun to unleash my wildness, my understandings of knives and of myself have been transformed. Knives are tools just as much as they are weapons and cooking utensils. The next day, I learned about selecting and cutting would from a wood pile. I can’t help mentioning, too, that I am embarrassingly aroused by the vision of my sweetheart chopping firewood with an ax. Silly, I know! The day after that, I started a fire from smoking embers that remained from the night before. All by myself, I brought up the flames. Soon I may know the joy of starting a fire on my own without the help of hot embers.
So, what’s next? Now that I apparently like camping, own a knife, and can start fires?
I can do anything.