Jack Spirko, of The Survival Podcast, calls it being switched on.
Paul Wheaton, of Permies.com, calls it having your brain infected.
Plato calls it an Ascent to Higher Intelligence.
I call it waking up to the dream of self-sufficiency.
I am a philosopher. I love wisdom and knowledge and reason. Above all I love truth. I don't care how much it hurts, honesty always hurts less than dishonesty. Truth always hurts less than untruths. Before I met my husband, I wanted certain things out of life. After he entered my life, some of those wants changed. I want to point out that I am still me. I still want things like motherhood and a home that is a refuge from the world. I still want to be an artist, to take photographs, and to be out in nature. I loved and dreamed about all of these things, since before I can remember. I still do, but things have changed. I am waking up.
I like to think that everyone has heard of Plato, but just in case you haven't, he's a pretty famous philosopher, and today I am going to reference his Allegory of the Cave. You can Google it and read it or find all sorts of videos and interpretations of it. I love this allegory. I love it because it's true, and I love the truth!
I want to walk you through my real-life allegory of the cave.
All growing up, I had heard echos and seen shadows of those who came before me and the self-sufficient lives they led. I loved to go to history museums and look at the “old” way of doing things. I used to think, “We have it so much better now.” It was amusing to me. I never thought to view it as the way of doing things before modern conveniences disconnected us humans from our world.
Someone had chained up my grandparents or my great-grandparents, put them in a cave and told them that this was better. They had kids and chained them to the cave of modern conveniences too. And they had children. All of these generations, grew up disconnected from their world. I grew up chained in this cave, too. Here are some of the “truths” (they were really echoes of truths) that I lived with:
– Food comes from a grocery store.
– Animals are dirty and smelly and serve no purpose other than entertainment.
– A garden was something only farmers and old ladies had.
– Clothes come from the mall.
There is only one way to learn, and that is at a school where a teacher preaches, gives you worksheets and tests, and expects you to regurgitate exactly what they just told you.
Making stuff for your self is unnecessary.
My husband, Christopher, had been unchained long ago. He and his family lived at the mouth of the cave. Somewhere in between living with the modern conveniences and being self sufficient. He saw me in the cave and wanted me to join him. So he moved me out to rural Washington. Made me live in a camper and told me that I should make home made bread. I thought he was crazy at first. I still think that he's a little crazy, but now I know he's just crazy about the truth. Here are some of the truths he has taught me:
– Food comes from the earth. WE can grow it. Whether the food comes from animals, vegetables, fruits, or grains, SOMEBODY has to make it; and it tastes better, costs less, and feels more rewarding when you grow it yourself.
– Clothing and other household items can also be made. Custom fit/designed clothing fits better than “cookie-cutter” stuff that you buy at stores and making them for yourself is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying someone else to do it.
– Learning is best done in an environment where the students are encouraged to find things out for themselves, and guided towards the truths by teachers who value exploration and mistakes. This can happen anywhere!
– Making stuff for yourself is absolutely necessary. It is least of all, less expensive, and most of all the most rewarding occupation for anyone in any lifestyle. (And it's cool.)
I still struggle with the reality of it all. Sometimes it's hard to look at the light and see what I have going for me because my eyes are still adjusting. There are still things that I long for back in the cave. Mostly, I long for the familiarity and the ease of life in the cave.
I want my family and my friends to all join me out here, because even though it's hard, I know it's better. But when I try to tell people about my life and the new realities I have found, all I get are responses of well-meaning pity and hope that I'll someday rejoin them in the cave of modern conveniences. No matter hard or unreal I think things are, I know that I am right where I am supposed to be, and I never want to go back.
To those who want to bring people out of the cave, remember to be kind. It's a difficult thing to have everything you've ever known challenged. It's a difficult thing to be woken up. But I encourage you all to keep trying. Share your lives with others, and be the change you want to see in the world.