Self reliance is such a misunderstood concept. Some people automatically think of survivalists in fatigues. Others think of people like Euell Gibbons. If you’re old enough to remember him, he was a heavy promoter for eating forest food.
Below is a spoof from the Carol Burnett Show. Does anyone remember this one?
Thankfully, it’s a big world and we have the option of choosing our own path without extremes.
My form of self reliance is a little more dull and commonplace–which is why you’ll never see the likes of me on television. There’s no drama in my life. Their tv ratings would drop like a rock because my day-to-day life is too boring for adrenaline rush viewers.
For me, self reliance is about being independent. I still socialize, shop, vote, and perform my civic duties as instructed. But I don’t have to depend on store-bought food if I don’t want to. I don’t have to depend on government intervention if my lights go out. And I don’t require government assistance if I became unemployed.
This all came about for some pretty solid reasons.
- We made getting out of debt a priority.
- We grow our own fruits and vegetables, and raise our own meat.
- We grew our savings, putting all raises, bonuses, and tax refunds into the kitty.
- We spend less than we make.
- We fix our stuff until it’s no longer usable.
- We buy used or remodel what we have.
- Husband is a wiz at building and alternative energy
Any single one of these things will get you one step closer to independence. Doing all of them makes you pretty near self reliant.
There’s still plenty I don’t do for myself. For example, I don’t make my own oil, nor do I raise nuts or avocados (a staple for me).
We don’t make our own fuel. I know Greg can do it if he wanted to. He has experience with the process, but it’s smelly and dangerous. That’s something I’m fine buying like everyone else.
Nurses, midwives, farmers, and cops all have practical and useful know-how. Consider yourself lucky to have any one of these people in your circle of friends because they are experts in their fields. I’m only an intern in this life.
I’ll never forget what an art teacher once told me when we pulled our clay pots out of the kiln. He said, now you have more knowledge about being self sufficient than the average person walking down the street. It was true. I didn’t just learn the chemistry and physics of pottery building, glazing and firing. I learned where the clay came from in the earth. I knew how to dig it out, refine it, slurry it, then pound it into a usable slab for making something useful.
It was a defining moment for me, like discovering fire, because now I knew how to do something completely from scratch.
We’ve truly lost touch with our ancestors. They knew all this stuff, learning it from when they were children. Sure, we can program a tv or make videos from our phones, but unless you do that for a living, how does that help you in the real world?
The world isn’t so much smarter as it is compartmentalized. We each of us know one or two things really, really well, but that’s where our knowledge base peters out.
Self reliance is about doing more for yourself and your family. I don’t expect a zombie apocalypse, aliens, or a worldwide nuclear holocaust, but I’m wary when it comes to natural disasters, flu epidemics, and unemployment. These are the things I think about when I talk about self reliance.
Lose your job once and you’ll know how important it is to have an emergency fund. Live through a major hurricane, and you’ll come to realize how poorly you were prepared. These are lessons I didn’t want to learn the hard way. I did, and maybe that’s why I wrote this post.
If I can get one person to try to do something for himself, maybe he won’t have to learn things the way I did.
Most people reading this will blow me off. They’ll think nothing bad will ever happen to them, or worse, think that some government authority will help them out. When Hurricane Rita nearly wiped us out we applied for FEMA help twice. Never heard from them even once. In the end, we rebuilt all by ourselves. That’s reality.
So what’s your take on self reliance? Do you think of fatigues or Euell Gibbons?
You don’t have to live my lifestyle to be self reliant, but you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead if you do only one thing: get out of debt. That’s the first step to independence.
My life isn’t for everyone, but it’s got far less stress than the decades I spent in an office. For that, I’m thankful.
For the month of May, I’ve joined other like-minded bloggers for the Self Reliance Challenge where we share some of the things we do to live a more sustainable lifestyle. I hope you’ll go and visit them.
Here is a list of some of the bloggers joining us.
AnnMarie – 15 Acre Homestead
Nancy – Nancy On The Homefront
Kathi – Oak Hill Homestead
Robin – A Life in the Wild
Candy – Candy’s Farm House Pantry
Farmgal – Just another Day on the Farm
Ashley – Practical Self Reliance
ShawnaLee – Homegrown Self Reliance
Frank – My Green Terra
Lisa Lynn, our Host – The Self Sufficient HomeAcre