Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Striving for that Better Life

In order for any self-directed enterprise -- take, for example, a blog -- to be successful, it has to be about our passions, those things in life that really drive us.  For the past two-and-one-half years I have dabbled with this blog on and off, and I have often attributed the failure to really get it off the ground to the numerous demands that life has thrown my way.  I have two young children, a demanding job with a 3-hour daily commute, and homesteading activities such as a large vegetable garden and countless home projects, so to make that assessment really isn't much of a reach.

Except, while that may be true now and for the past year, when I started this blog I was not employed full-time and we had only one child.  There are many real reasons for not getting this project off the ground, but foremost among them is that I haven't really engaged my passions with this blog on a consistent basis.  It has primarily been a vehicle for commenting about current trends and events, scattered news articles and the like.  The internet is full of this kind of commentary, and while I like to think that my perspective on these things is special, the reality is that it is not.  Especially when that commentary is almost the sole purpose of this blog.

So, this post marks a turning point in the purpose of this venue.  The primary themes that this blog will deal with from now on are: gardening and permaculture; alternative, home-based energy; home economics and household production; and historical trends and examples of those themes.  I refer to these themes as the keys to "striving for that better life."  They are the true passions in my life, the things of which I can never tire from discussing, and the new focus of this blog.

What is my vision of this "better life"?  It is a simple life filled with bountiful simple pleasures.  It is a life where I am able to spend considerable time with my wife, daughter and son.  It means being involved as a contributing member to my community.  It means being engaged in meaningful, purposeful, productive work on a daily basis.  It means paying down debt, gradually but drastically reducing expenses, learning new skills and saving capital so that we are no longer dependent upon outside systems such as employers, utility companies, agribusiness and government for the things we need.

The better life I am striving for is one that is my own definition of freedom for myself and my family.  Your definition of a better life may share some of these things in common, or it may be drastically different.  Not only is that OK, it is the way that things should be.  As one of my influences in this shift in focus, Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast has frequently said, freedom (or, as he calls it, liberty) is something that each of us defines for ourselves.  Since I've shared with you my short definition of freedom, I'd be interested to learn how you define it, because you might just help me to realize an aspect of it that I hadn't thought of before.

So, from here on out, this blog will not be simply observations of the world and news around me.  It will be about getting grease and dirt under my fingernails and streaked across my face, as well as sawdust in my hair.  It will be closer to the way that I live my life now, sharing the journey with you, dear reader, toward that better life -- in fits, starts and setbacks.  We will also showcase and discuss the stories of people engaged in these kinds of activities and trying to live that "better life".  Many of them are far more advanced in their progress than you or I, but that makes them serve as examples to all of us as to what is possible.  I'll also look at these efforts through the lens of history, hopefully helping us to realize that nothing we are talking about here is really all that new -- much of it came under the heading of "common sense" to our grandparents and great-grandparents.

If you're interested in these kinds of things, tell your friends.  Spread the word.  Come along with me for the journey and the conversation.  Together, we can all strive to build that better life -- for ourselves, our families, our communities and each other.  Let's do it!

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