Can I move on? A lament


#1

I’m not sure how to phrase this so that it sounds beautiful and poetic like some of you can spin, so I’ll set it out plainly, like I do.

For the past while, I’ve been mourning a life I feel like I’ll never have. I feel strongly the move to go back to the land and really test myself, but have a son and husband firmly entrenched in their modern lifestyle. We all of us struggle with anxiety and depression (imagine, a 6 year old with anxiety!) which is clearly indicative of our need to move to a simpler life. We all of us feel our most alive when “roughing it” in the wild for several days, to the extent that most of our family time is spent dashing out the door with a pack and a bit of food to go back. But when I express that I’d like to make this our life, living simply on the land, I’m met with huge resistance. Neither can imagine life without the trappings of modernity, and I’m frequently met with responses that I’m ungrateful for our life, or I’m trying to move on to a life without them. My gentle plannings (“Look, this lot is close enough to utilities that we can hook it to the grid but move off-grid if we decide on that later!”) are appreciated and elicit excitement initially, but eventually turn to questions of my sanity. And it is! It is a question of sanity! I feel the core of myself dying, and with it the bitterness and resentment in my family grows.

Has anyone successfully moved their family towards the movement? We do little things already: composting, growing vegetables, basic land management (as much as my urban subdivision allows). How do you nudge the reluctant loves in your life towards a life you love without just being “that eccentric hippie”?

PS, that was way more of an emotional outburst than I intended. Sorry for that friends.


#2

Phew…first of all, no need for sorries…

What drives you most in your desire to live a simpler life, closer to the land - wanting to connect to the land more deeply or fear of staying mainstream-on-grid?


#3

I can relate. I yearn for the ability to go back to how it was, to a more healthy, mentally sane tribal existence.

The problem is, tribes are families filled with joint history and loved ones, and our families live in the modern day world. To go “back” to tribal existence now means leaving most long term family and friends behind, and with humans being social creatures, that’s a huge loss. I think you need to respect your husband’s and son’s wants to stay with their roots. I know that sucks.

For me, I’ve also for many years dreamed of moving to Japan, but my husband has no interest nor does he speak the language. So in reality, I probably will never live there. Could I leave him for that dream? I could, but that relationship means more to me. And it wouldn’t be fair to drag him to somewhere he would be unhappy. Nor would it be a happy life living with someone who felt permanently out of place.


#4

I definitely hold resonance with this topic. I live in Los Angeles, in a suburb. Pretty much in the belly of the Beast. Since I read Quinn, oh, a decade and a half ago, I’ve been yearning towards a different life.

I worked with people towards an ecovillage and failed. I worked on getting a Transition Initiative and failed. I’ve worked on igniting a sustainable movement in the community and got pushed to the side (which was positive for the movement, so no complaints there). I’ve even worked with a tribe, realizing how far I have to go.

I’ve lost friends because of my beliefs. I’ve got others who consider me a nut. There are people who enjoy what I say that are about 5 years behind me. And then there’s my daughter. This year, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. A life completely off-grid would lead to a very unpleasant death for her.

If you can’t tell from the above, I dip into the well of misery on a fairly regular basis. I feel like I’ve got some good folk around me, but in trying to reach the the life I desire, I feel alone.

That’s when I talk to the world.

I get reminded that wind wears down mountains and the landscape always changes over time. That trees are like ocean waves, frozen in a moment in time. Everything flows and the outsider was needed to reveal the holes in the walls in the first place. And the world is surprising and weird and though I might, at this moment, feel like I will never reach my goals, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. So, I teach my kids and talk about this stuff and keep it viable for my wife and for anyone else who wants to listen. I embrace newcomers and console old burnt out people and counsel when I can. I design programs to add wedges to the wall and I remain fierce and when I fall, which is often, I wipe off the tears and keep walking. There will always be something new out there, even if it wants to pretend it’s the same old thing.


#5

Thanks friends for your replies. They have given me a lot to digest (and will continue to contribute to my journaling going forward) as I constructed my response.

@Anneke, This is an excellent question. Right now, I worry about being “stuck”. I think that seems to be a common first step, letting go of your modern necessities so as to live a simpler life, but this is a very hard step, as I have a very real fear ingrained in me of loss of income.

My pie in the sky dream is to build a little house on my great grandparents’ land, raise a few animals, and show my son the sort of life my ancestors lived. Like @Karen_Rewilder stated, it wouldn’t be a happy life with my family who felt out of place, and I can’t see a happy life for myself without those that matter most to me. I think I’ll have to toil a little longer, learn and dream a little more, and see where this life now takes me.


#6

Although I have written many times before about my inability to rewild or live without civilization, I wanted to write further about my time spent at the Native American pow-wows, and my Native American friends that I work with in the field of autism, which I have dedicated my life to as a person with autism.

The city of Milwaukee, in the state of Wisconsin, has a large Native American community, which is represented by many Native American churches and a health clinic for Native Americans within the city. These individuals live within the heart of civilization, and although they often live “unsustainable” lives and have incorporated many aspects of modern and civilized living, they all remain there because their own community lives there. And they work hard to maintain elements of their culture, and social ties to people in their ethnic groups in the reservations up in rural parts of Wisconsin (Wisconsin has the highest number of reservations east of the Mississippi River due to its history as the first “dumping ground” for Native Americans in its past). I am writing about them since they represent people who, like many people I see here, are attempting to preserve many aspects of culture independent of civilization, and would prefer to live a more wild existence, but do not have the ability to, and thus work hard to preserve their cultures within the heart of civilization. Their stories can have much value for rewilders, as we work hard to repsect Native cultures without engaging in “cultural appropriation,” which I, like many other people on this website, completely abhor.

I admire their efforts to preserve their heritage in the heart of the city, and have been invited multiple times to attend their church gatherings and the events of one of their cultural awareness organizations based in Milwaukee, The Flowering Tree. However, due to my busy schedule, I have yet to be able to attend any of their events, even though the invitations are still open, and I hope to attend them in the future.

When I attend the two Milwaukee Native American pow-wows in Wisconsin, in the belly of the beast of Civilization, my Native American friends and I rarely talk about sustainability. Instead, we talk more about preserving their culture in the face of the genocide that affected their people, and see the ecological side of things more in the lens of preserving their culture, language, and homeland, in an era that is acknowledging their validity as people but still has to face the reality that the descendants of white colonizers just can’t pack up and go back to Europe. And it’s hard for us to accept the fact that during the time that the Native Americans did endure the genocide and massacre, many European colonizers didn’t consider them to be actual people–something we discuss at the pow-wows each year.

I am lucky that my autism has enabled me to spend the time I spend with them–since the state of Wisconsin does a lot of autism awareness work and that Native Americans in Wisconsin have a high respect for people with autism within their culture, and many of them work in the autism field up there.

I’m going to another convention, but I have more thoughts I hope to share next week. Thanks for this important subject.


#7

ThomasMaxwell said,

I definitely hold resonance with this topic. I live in Los Angeles, in a suburb. Pretty much in the belly of the Beast. Since I read Quinn, oh, a decade and a half ago, I’ve been yearning towards a different life.
I worked with people towards an ecovillage and failed. I worked on getting a Transition Initiative and failed. I’ve worked on igniting a sustainable movement in the community and got pushed to the side (which was positive for the movement, so no complaints there). I’ve even worked with a tribe, realizing how far I have to go.
I’ve lost friends because of my beliefs. I’ve got others who consider me a nut. There are people who enjoy what I say that are about 5 years behind me. And then there’s my daughter. This year, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. A life completely off-grid would lead to a very unpleasant death for her.

I live pretty near, in that same general area. I have read such Quinn stories, and wonder at the seeming paradox, that any of us find it a difficult thing to come to that independence from civilization, with it seeming so far off, and somewhere in the stories, and I think right off in the first of that Ishmael sequence, it was said that we don’t have to go on with civilization, we could start right off living independently from it, just like that. The real possibility of coming to that is with the reality that there will be transition to that. There is entitlement I see to take medical advantages along from civilization, which had society that we are from forget the knowledge of what healing there is from the things growing wild, these must be relearned, but we can learn knowing modern medicine has sources from growing vegetation that they derive what is effective for things. So any disability for which there is medication has such vegetation already growing in places for such. The plants need to be found, to then have further independence from civilization, and this being possible then on land away from urbanization.


#8

Thank you guys for sharing! I don’t have children, but an IT husband and a judgmental mom, so I can for sure, relate. The husband and I have had many talks, but just like my spirituality, he cannot relate. It sucks. I’ve started picking up things here and there and I have committed myself to my own journey. I don’t mean that I will be leaving anyone behind or that I won’t have connections to the modern world, but that I hear the call and I will oblige. I feel like we all, for the most part, have immersed into the modern world and to come out of it will be a lengthy process. I’m going to start off small, backyard type of stuff and just go from there. Hobbies can grow into lifestyles and I’m pretty sure the more you work toward it, the more comfortable others will be. Just gotta avoid the resentment and judgement from others, tearing you down. That is a whole other rant in it’s self. What helps, is communities of people who can understand and are also on that same sort of path, and so here we are!