I’m not a person who really believes much in New Year’s resolutions. I think the best time to change something about yourself is right now and that doesn’t matter much to me if its Jan 1 or July 1. So instead of reflecting on things I want to change about myself I’d rather look at the things I’ve gotten done and the things I want to do in the new year.
This time last year I was in trouble and I’m not afraid to admit it. So many things were piling on. I hated my job. Taking a step down from management presented more problems than I’d know. A boss who was threatened by me and intent on arbitrarily cracking down, forcing me to work on scheduled holidays and assigning me tasks while on vacation. We were living in suburbia and though I loved my garden and we had a nice house the payments were too much. That combined with the neighbors. On one side they partied in our driveway half the night. On the other two sides neighbors who let a combined total of 7 loud dogs out everytime I walked into the garden.
Within a month I was sicker than I’d ever been. That week culminated in me headed to the hospital in Georgetown with chest pain. That night I was rushed to University of Kentucky Hospital in an ambulance. When they put me out in the cath lab I didn’t expect to wake up. But the next morning, with a hole in my leg and four IV’s in my arms I did wake up to wonder: How the hell did I end up here? This is not my life. I’m not meant to be here – not just in a hospital but not in this city, not slogging an hour down the interstate everyday working for people I can’t stand. That’s not freedom.
Well needless to say the endocarditis was not near as big of a problem as I thought they’d find that night but it did make me realize that my questions to myself were no less appropriate. This wasn’t a life. I had always dreamed arrogantly of going Galt; leaving society with my family and depriving them of what we had to offer. But instead I found the answer from Thoreau who said: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
I’d love to say I’m writing this right now from my cabin in the woods and everything is perfect. Its not – but I really can’t complain too much. There are some aspects in life where my family and I are still struggling but its a lot better. The direction we are headed in IS the right direction. To quote a much more recent work: There’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.
The cabin is nearly finished and my wife is graciously accepting my plan to downsize our square footage from 1700+ to 600. I’m in better shape than ever from all the work on the cabin and property. I like this job a lot better (but I’d be happier if I could write and podcast full time). My wife is teaching at a school again. Jackson is spending tons of time with his Grandma who is actually giving him wilderness survival classes everytime he stays with her. He is much happier in the country and is living a life like the one I lived growing up at last.
Here’ s a short list (with pictures) of the things we’ve accomplished this year followed by the things left to do.
- With a lot of help from family and others we got the cabin from essentially framed to roofed and completely closed in and mostly trimmed.
- We got the food forest area and a large pasture in the front cleared.
- We got out of that suburban hellhole (but unfortunately had to leave my thriving garden).
- We upped our food preservation to about 100 total jars for this year.
- I presented at the Mother Earth News Fair. Got to work with kids and got to meet and talk to Joel Salatin.
- I sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 articles to various publications. Signed a contract for a book collaboration and submitted my 8K words.
- Became an official Mother Earth New blogger.
- Got an article published on Lew Rockwell’s site.
- Built a greenhouse and a chicken coop. Put up a trellis and a deer stand.
- Combined all podcasts back into one (The Self-Sufficient Gardener) and started regular daily posts with podcasts, videos and text posts.
- Developed lasting friendships with bloggers, podcasters and listeners.
Things to do in the coming year.
- Focus more on writing books rather than so many articles.
- Work with one of my publishers on their podcast.
- Attend more events (I really like speaking on these things).
- Finish the cabin and move the family in. (Septic system, electric drop, water meter are all going in very soon). Have to wire, plumb and finish it.
- Get more livestock. I’ve got the housing built I just need to get to the cabin so I can watch over them.
- Make more blogger friends!
- Find a way to do what I love full time (writing, podcasting, teaching).
Philosophically I need to both take a stronger stance on things I believe in and at the same time not really care about the naysayers. There seems to be SO much pessimism lately. Its hard for people to both ask for help and to offer it on the internet. The anonymity breeds @$$holes. People get hung up on the fact that they have to be right. I’d rather be happy than right. I lived 33 years worrying about what other people thought of me. My job from this point on is to teach my son and those who are willing to listen and overlook the times I’m wrong.
I wish all of my listeners, friends and associates all the best of luck in the New Year and I hope you get to live life your way!