Jilly D.

My stock is in the barn

In Off-The-Grid Memoir on January 25, 2014 at 10:49 pm
mind of his own

mind of his own

“You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time,” Sam said on more than one occasion. Of all the scarce nonrenewable resources, time should never be wasted. For everything there is a time. The trick is to know what time it is.

For me, it was time to change. I dropped out, fell through the cracks, flew under the radar screen, unplugged and disembodied myself from any electronic identity. Instead of keeping and chasing paper trails, I now find it exhilarating to think about leaving no trace at all.

I went on a low social cholesterol diet. No more fat heads. I put myself on a starvation media diet. As a former college professor of journalism, this was a ‘fast’. Even though I could quote you chapter and verse on the negative mindset mass media creates in consumers, I’d been a news junkie. The truth had become little more than what sells in commercial news media and I found it toxic. The results of my fast proved stunning. Without the noise of news I gain the time to think about more important matters than the shock of the day. I have time to hear my own thoughts.

Rosehips under freshly fallen snowI didn’t give up on TV. TV gave up on me. I stopped reading national newspapers, subscribing to magazines, listening to talk radio or watching network news. My local newspaper, the free shoppers, the bulletin boards and local radio stations provide more than enough news and entertainment. I don’t seek out news; I get the news I need without paying for it. Somehow the everyday pornography of grief still gets delivered.

The luxury of time to think about the world and the state it is in affords me the time to do something about it. Too often I feel as if by watching, listening or reading the news I am doing something. I am not. Just because I know something doesn’t mean I can do a damn thing about it. News leaves me powerless to do anything about what I learned. So I shut it off and started thinking in more practical terms.

Instead of a home with 2,500 square feet of living space, Sam invited me to live in his cabin with 400 square feet. Less room means less stuff.

“Less room means it takes a lot less to heat and power your living area. Less room means less to clean!” says Sam. He convinced me on the less cleaning argument. Less room means everything in your home has a purpose and a place.

“Try making your own electricity. Create your own heat. Conserve. Commute. Carpool. Walk. Grow your own. Do it yourself. Fix it. Make do without,” Sam tells me.

The loss of retirement funds, high unemployment, home foreclosures, credit card debt, health care costs and the threats to the security of our food supply and national security make the future uncertain if not bleak.  The price of everything has gone up and the end of the fossil fuel era is apparently now.  The new economics make things look bad and you urgently want to do something, almost anything, to stop the madness. So do it. Stop.

I used to rush about, hurry, push the time limit, thrive on urgency and was addicted to speed:  faster, faster. The pace of everyday life kills.  The incessant feeling of being behind and trying to catch up nags and irritates. The reality is that wages have fallen since 1973 and there is no way to catch up. Especially not after the era of excess when we extended our budgets by buying into credit card debt.  The voice mail and email, the correspondence and phone calls, the reports and forms, the meetings and conferences, deadlines and bottom lines pressed down; leaving absolutely no time to think clearly and calmly.

On Warren Pond

On Warren Pond

Good things take time.  Slow down. Breathe. Deeply. Again. Inhale through your nose and smell a new day. Exhale and push that desperation out through your mouth. Suck in fresh air until your nostrils collapse and then blow the old out through your teeth. One more time. Slower.

Creating a new self-sustaining lifestyle does not mean sacrifices, self-denial, depression or loneliness. It means acceptance, adjustment and appreciation. Our sense of well-being can’t be measured in liquid assets but in social capital with far better rates of return.

I can not offer any quick fix solutions for saving the planet or fixing your personal finances.  I can hope only to inspire you to live on what you can afford and make best use of what is at hand.

There are no get rich quick schemes.  Sam’s best investment tip was to keep the stock in the barn. Here you will read about how it is possible to minimize your carbon footprint and enjoy it.  I hope our story will inspire you to find your own good life.

When the time is right, take it.

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  1. Jill, I love this post. Thank you for sharing and the reminder of the illusory nothingness of too much news gathering. As a former student who is forever in awe of your media prowess (and yet scared to death by those darn news quizzes that forced me to walk the same path, though I never fully could!) back in the day, you have again taught me here that there is frequently more than one angle to the story, more than one perspective of the 5 Ws&H, to get you to a greater understanding of the Truth–the real story. Look forward to more of your story as it unfolds.

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