Our Philosophy

Festina lente
-make haste...slowly

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Most Important Part of Home

I think I've mentioned before that I definitely have no moss gathering anywhere on my person, particularly 'round my feet.  Let's just say that it would take more time than it's worth to think back through all the different places I've lived, both as an adult and as a child with no say in the matter.  My family members long ago started writing my contact information in their address books in pencil.  But it isn't all my doing, the precedent was established early on.  And no, I'm not a military brat.  We just had some things to do.

But a big part of why I'm where I am right now, and hopefully where I'll be for good, is my family.  My tribe.  The reason my post is late this week is that my infant son has been strengthening his immune system via roseola for the last several days, and that extra duty has reined us all in a bit this week.  Seems fitting after my flippant attitude toward crowd diseases last week.  My wife just posted her piece at A Day in Earnest a couple of hours ago, talking about the need for rest, and now it's my turn to catch up with my little corner of the blogosphere.  I worked really hard today.  I felt behind.  I felt personally responsible for the shallow pot of dead dry squash on my grandparents' back steps, because I didn't have the time to get over there earlier to check it while they were away on vacation.  And I will go to bed tonight with more sun than anyone should.  But the reason for that hard work is the last factor in deciding where to hang my hat: family.

Water, food, shelter, medicine, all extremely important, but are even they as important to a social primate as tribe?  My mom is here.  My dad's father and stepmom (who has been my grandmother since I was 4).  My sister and her two children.  My paternal uncle, and occasionally the rest of his family of four.  And I'm making high quality friends to list among my tribe very quickly.  Most of them due to the connection with family.  I love these people, and I want to provide for them in whatever way I can.  Giving of my time to help my son and wife this week, and setting my blog on the back burner, is how this should work.  Blood is thicker than water, right?  And definitely thicker than the interweb...with its system of tubes...and flashy light...things...

But back to it.  I've seen evidence recently that we Americans are in deeper doo-doo than I'm usually willing to admit.  What's left of the global economy seems to be moving away from the US dollar as a standard trading currency.  If that happens the dollar will be all but worthless.  And really it's just a matter of time; dominant powers don't last forever.  God-blessed or otherwise.  Actually I'm having a hard time thinking of a global superpower that wasn't god-blessed.  They all were.  That's what being a superpower means.  That you are chosen by your very own god to be better than everyone else.  Obviously.

What happens to US religion will be fascinating to watch as we grind our way down the great energy mountain.  I tend to think people will at first turn TO god - oh, dear lord, please help us (and my reputation); please save my 401(k), which you have so graciously provided.  No?  To hell with you then.  I never really believed in you anyway.  No real god would allow me to lose my job, then my savings, then my wife, then my self-respect!  A real god would've kept the gas cheap and the beer cheaper.  Or something like that.  A classic church attendance boom-n-bust.

Problem is, energy descent hits people individually, and over a long period of contraction. There's very little group therapy.  When you start suggesting things like what I've outlined above, people will disown you.  Except for close family.  Maybe.  Everyone will get this eventually.  One way or another.  It may take decades to come to grips with it, but eventually we will all get it.  Unconditional family love, the Greek "agape," might be the only thing that makes it through.  I'm sure there is a relative of mine reading this now, wondering where, oh where, did I go wrong with this kid?  Nowhere.  You're just not there yet.  And that's OK.  And the potential for them to never really understand why this is happening will always be there.  Despite our best efforts to explain it in clear, concise scientific terms.  We may always be that wingnut.  And that's OK too.  Better a prepared wingnut than Mr. Cool on life support.

But the desire to be near family, to build a tribe in these times, is strong, and really two-fold.  One, they will be there for us when we need them, for whatever purpose - emotional or financial support, political or military strength, or even just a ready market for our crazy, often more expensive, self-reliant goods and services.  And two, as things become different, as the way things work changes, due to energy descent, we will become the rock in the storm.  We will have foreseen the changes, prepared for them (that's really why we're here right?), and we will represent a working model for an emerging new world.  Consciously grasped or not.  Or at least a place to buy good eggs and butter.

After spending everything we had tucked away to move to Washington in 2008, my wife's mother informed us that she wasn't going to be "that kind of grandmother."  And by "that kind of grandmother" I mean one that helps with the children now and then.  Not raises them for you, just helps a little now and then.  Self-reliance is great, but it's a whole lot easier with a just a smidgeon of grandparent-facilitated sanity now and then.  Which is just the sort of thing we've been enjoying since we decided to move back home.  My home.  Where a whole bunch of us will always be there for each other, wingnuts or not.  If you have that opportunity I highly recommend moving it up your list of things to consider.


  1. I appreciate what you are getting at here.
    A big part of what led me to veer off down my current avenue of life tangent was experiencing the strong family / community values still present in much of Asian society.

    It seemed to me (after 5 months backpacking south east Asia) that many of the issues evident on our western culture are due to a lack of family connection and respect for elders and community contributors.

    Now I live in a beautiful rural community, near where I grew up within 40 minutes drive of my 2 sisters, parents and wife's parents. (In New Zealand it is actually hard to get very far away if you tried.)

    We are 2 years into establishing our own permiculture inspired food forest.

    Enjoyed your interview. Keep up the good work, happy spring.

  2. More food forests! Everyone needs one of their own for sure. We've got this beautiful old pecan grove around us that I'm looking forward to guilding. Our garden so far is situated in a little open pocket at the east end of the grove. I couldn't ask for more ecologically. And my plantings so far have tried to mimic a natural forest edge, where fruit trees, shrubs, and herbs would naturally form a wind lifting wedge.

    Five months packing in southeast Asia sounds intense. Seems like you came home with some fine lessons too. I have to admit, I'm terrible with community. I hate the telephone; I don't always follow through on commitments; and I don't take enough time for family. But I'm really working on it. There's a lot to unlearn from our past culture, isn't there?

    Best of luck to you, sir.