One of the (many, many) blogs I subscribe to (Crunchy Chicken) is written by a woman whose husband is dying of cancer. She has young children; she and her husband are young; the whole thing is pretty much heartbreaking and horrific and makes me feel so, so, so lucky for a healthy husband and baby girl.
But I don't share this with you for the depressing dose of reality. I share her blog with you because she is refreshingly honest about all that she goes through, but in a very positive and reflective way. She's matter-of-fact about what she and her family goes through, and it's an interesting perspective. It's different from how I imagine I would deal with such tragedy, were that my lot in life to bear, but it's a strength I hope I would be able to dig down and find.
Anyway, she just posed this question to her readers and I thought it was a really interesting and thought-provoking one. Read her post to get the full context, but for those pressed for time, the gist of it is: "If you could shake off the chains of societal expectations and the ideas of monetary wealth and do whatever the hell you wanted to, what would it be? Would you choose an alternative lifestyle?
Don't limit yourself - would you be willing to cash in the equity on your home to live extremely frugally in a yurt out on some land? And don't limit yourself to the U.S. I think this, as a mental exercise, is good practice for helping you get used to dealing with change....What do you actually, really need to live happily?"
And I think this is a different vein of the question Scarlet Lily asked us several weeks ago. This is taking an idea akin to hers to a much deeper level. Because it's not "what would your occupation be?" This doesn't even necessarily assume an occupation. And it does assume a more realistic thought process. Don't think of an imaginary lifestyle. Think of something you could actually, logistically do, but think outside the constraints of what we are culturally conditioned to think is possible. It's scary because there's a lot we're taught we can't do that really, we could, because plenty of other cultures do, and plenty of generations before us have.
If you go to Crunchy's post and you read the comments from readers who have responded, you'll note that many people talk about living off the grid somewhere in the middle of nowhere with lots of land to grow their own produce and meat, etc. Not a big surprise dream from readers of green blog. And it's a dream I harbor in dusty corners of my mind, too, that I don't really take seriously because I don't think I'm brave enough to ever try it. But it's nice to think about.
And if you read through those comments, you may come across mine, where I wondered, if someone was to follow through on that dream, living off-grid with sustainable farming, built their own log cabin, etc., and if that someone has kids, and if you want those kids to have the choice and opportunity of going to college when that time comes, what do you do about education? Obviously, you would home school, if you were really that removed from society. Or am I assuming too much isolation in that scenario? Do you think people could/would live in such a way and still arrange transportation to and from the nearest school for their kid? What would the social implications be for the kid? I guess there are plenty of more rural communities in this country where you could have enough land to do all that for yourself, but still not be too many miles from the nearest school.
So, fine, I've talked myself through that problem. But what if you choose to home school your child. Again, the social implications are even more innumerable, but put that aside for a minute. Do you think that you could home school a child as aggressively as would be necessary to make them college ready, while at the same time growing all your own fruits and veggies, raising your own meat, etc.? When I think of all the agrarian cultures that have certainly produced very intelligent and well-educated children, I don't think those were the same families that were grooming the kids for Harvard. Not in this modern educational system anyway. Modern schools are infamous in this country for not recognizing different brands of intelligence. It's the SAT-way or the highway. Could you teach the specific curriculum that American academia demands to your children while running a fully self-sustaining farm?
I tend to feel that accomplishing both those realities would be impossible, in which case, would it be wrong to consciously make that decision for your family knowing the limits it would place on your child's future? Let me know your thoughts!