Wednesday, August 31, 2011

the open road

I was listening to a Jim Kunstler's podcast, and the subject of the America's love of spontaneity came up. The conversation was about our national love of instant, personal, gratification (i.e. jumping in our cars whenever we feel like it, doing our housework whenever we wish, etc)—just the freedom our modern lives have in this cushy, air-conditioned, iPad-and-digital cable filled world. And how that all could change so quickly due to economic hardships and energy scarcity. It was a really engaging episode, but it also had me reeling. Why is spontaneous behavior and escape so romanticized in modern society?

Why do we want to be those people on the open road roaring into the sunset with nothing but a suitcase in the backseat? Is it just a luxury of a post-war affluence and their novelty of the new interstate highway system? Did it auto-drip into our craniums from decades of movies and music videos, novels and inventions? Or is whimsical travel part of who we are? I mean, we are constantly being told that escaping responsibility equates freedom. I guess that make sense when it comes to unfortunate emotional/social responsibilities (a bad marriage, an abusive home, etc)—but escaping from good work, solid ground, and healthy food no longer seems like freedom to me.

There is no freedom on a road trip. It is the epitome of bondage. You at the mercy of so many things: money, weather, oil, road conditions, food availability, police officers, traffic laws and so on.Your entire survival is in the hands of other people (and corporations). I think people are confusing rapid speeds out of doors with freedom.

Let me tell you what freedom isn't: Freedom is not an open highway. It is not drilling for oil. It is not having an endless line of credit. Nor is it having your every whim and comfort catered to. Freedom is the ability to wake up, laugh, eat, work, and love without fear. Freedom is walking outside your front door and knowing that if the world around you falls apart, you can make it a little while, maybe longer. It means not being at the whims of the power company, grocery store, and highway crews. For some of us that means a garden, saddle horse, and a flock of chickens. For others it means a thriving community where neighbors know each other by first names and help and support each other. But it certainly isn't something you can achieve peeling off into the sunset. Not unless you're driving home.

What is freedom to you?

illustration from


Blogger Whosyergurl said...

I whole heartedly agree, Jenna. I guess freedom for me is freedom in my own decisions...deciding what to write or read or who I want to be with or call.
Having enough money to pay my bills. Not being in bondage to anyone for anything.
Good post.
xo, Cheryl

August 31, 2011 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Jimmie said...

I reckon freedom for me is not having debt for anything we own. I don't mean utilities, insurance, telephone, etc. We don't live off the grid and health insurance is important. I mean things like land, house, car - even clothes and groceries. I hate to owe for anything and strive not to buy anything on credit. Now that being said, when our children were young, we had credit card debt, but now that they are grown with families of their own, I find that I would rather have less than to owe for "things". I'm satisfied with our little house, the clothes I wear, the old cars we drive, and the food we eat.

That's one kind of freedom.

The other freedom I cherish is the ability for my husband and me to make or grow most anything we need or want. We literally built our house here on twenty acres, I grow a good bit of our food, I sew, knit and repair what clothes we need and my husband earns enough to buy the things we can't or don't want to make by restoring vintage cars. So he's able to keep our cars going. We realize that no man is an island, but we strive to quietly learn as many skills as we can to feel comfortable with our station in life.

Satisfaction with who you are, where you are and the love of like-minded folks is the best freedom in the world to me.

I love this post and I'm looking forward to what freedom means to your other readers.

Diane in North Carolina

August 31, 2011 at 5:31 PM  
Blogger Matt and Callie said...

I think it relates a lot to how relationships are portrayed in our society, too. Think about how men refer to marriage as "getting tied down" or to their wives as "ball and chains". I don't mean to pick on men; those are just the examples that I can think of. I just hate that too often other people are seen as barriers to our happiness. I can understand the feeling of wanting to get into a car and go; I've felt that often enough. But usually it's because something as gone wrong with my life and I'm too tired or scared to start over again. I like to think that our kind of people are actively working towards something else - not freedom from responsibility, but the freedom that comes from living without fear.
Thanks for this post.

August 31, 2011 at 5:48 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

My idea of freedom is EXACTLY the same as yours Jenna. My vehicle died on me today, and I can't afford to fix it. But my freezer is full, my garden is booming and I work from home. We can step out the door and walk up our country road where we will find all the company we care to have. Walk another few hundred yards and we can jump into the creek for a nice swim. If I REALLY REALLY need a trip to town, the first phone call I make will take care of that. This summer a number of our neighbors had vehicle issues and we all worked together so they didn't have a crisis. Guess it's just our turn. I can wait out this catastrophe for a few weeks just fine thanks.

August 31, 2011 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

Excellent post. :)

Freedom is such a powerful word... I think everyone has some idea of what it means, but as we think about it more, we begin to realize that it's a word that will continually escape our grasp of understanding. There's just so much to it!

To me, freedom is many things. It's having the ability to make my own choices. It's knowing that if society fails tomorrow, I will be prepared and shall not be in need. It's knowing that I am financially stable, and owe no debts (as of yet, anyway!), and it's knowing that I still have the ability to choose what I can eat; rather than the government making that decision for me.

August 31, 2011 at 6:45 PM  
Blogger goatldi said...

With freedom comes responsibility. Sadly we see so little of that from society in general. Hence the endless line of credit cards, total reliance on super markets, fast food places. And the lack of thinking about anyone but oneself.

Since the get go I have said that the economic state of affairs this nation is in is the best thing that has happened in ages. Perhaps we can all get back to basics finally.

I also firmly believe that if we had a good barter system in place we would have a much more symbiotic society as we rely on each other in a way using a monetary system can never allow.

August 31, 2011 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Single Serving Jack said...

Freedom for me a road trip, especially if it's on a motorcycle. It's not the road so much as it is seeing new places, meeting new people and surviving whatever chaos comes my way.
I know I can survive on the family farm. But can I survive outside it is the question for me. Oil has nothing to do with it. If there were no oil, I would be riding a horse or bicycle. Granted I wouldn't get as far because my corporate job wants me to show my face at the office once in a while, but it wouldn't change this bears desire to see what's on the other side of the mountain.

August 31, 2011 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger daisy g said...

Freedom is knowing that you'll be okay no matter where you end up (and all along the way).

August 31, 2011 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger Karen Rickers said...

Freedom to me is having a little 'buzz off' money. You know, that's when 'the man' says, "You have to do THIS!' And you just smile and say, "Buzz off, I don't have to do anything.' I find that a predilection for simple pleasures as I grow older has helped me with this. I freelance in a couple of areas, which gives me the freedom to walk the dogs in our Carolinian forests in the middle of the day, or stroll on one of the nicest beaches in Ontario -- beautiful at literally any time of year -- any time I like (barring snow storms, of course!) Like you, my wanderlust is at an all time low: Bali? Yeaaaah, maybe some other time!

Although I agree with Single Serving, riding a bike feels like magnificent freedom! The grass seems greener, the sky looks bluer, the smells of the plants and trees are vibrant, and the speed brings with it the knowledge that life is very present, and death perhaps only a second away.

Hey ... you're having an influence, I'm thinking of getting some chickens in the spring! :-D I'm also reading books on raising rabbits. I hope to get to Cold Antler for a workshop one of these days.


August 31, 2011 at 7:20 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I agree, but maybe those people yearning for the open road also yearn for a place to call home, if you understand where I'm going there. :)

I am also with goatldi 100% in the comments above, although I'd rather like to keep my job long enough to pay off my debts so I can live on less of a salary...

August 31, 2011 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger Patterson said...

Freedom, to me, is to have the ability to make my own choices without being bound by other's whims with regard to anything non-harmful I may chose to do. Concurrently, I expect to live with the consequences of my choices. I chose to marry the man I love, I chose to have a child. These choices carry responsibilities with the choices. I wish I didn't have to deal with the restrictions and covenants of my neighborhood but, I chose to live there in order to meet our needs.
I would love to live out in the country but our health would make the consequences for that choice very dire.
We have the right to associate with whom we choose and to speak as we wish.

August 31, 2011 at 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely agree. Very well said.

August 31, 2011 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger bookkm said...

I'm a stay-at-home kind of person and to me, freedom is being happy in your own skin, no matter where you are. But I know plenty of gypsies and the ones that are free, pay their own bills and like themselves.

We live in a culture of discontent where everything must be faster, bigger or newer than what we already have. I don't buy it, figuratively or literally.

August 31, 2011 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger lacy said...

A few years ago when I was a (stupid) rebellious teenager, I spent the better part of a year traveling with various friends/acquaintances/gutterpunks. We were absolutely reliant on freebies and castoffs... dumpsters, food stamps, soup kitchens, etc. Sure, it was free, but I was reliant on a system others worked to uphold with no choice as to how it was run. My life is absolutely more free now, when I eat food my partner and I have grown, or other producers at the co-op I work at, and sleep in a home that's ours. I love having a place to belong and my heart is unfettered.
I'm a new reader and I LOVE your writings so far, especially the part about buying a farm. We're looking for our right place now and your words are very inspiring!

August 31, 2011 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Chestnut Farm said...

Freedom to me is this moment: I stand outside, there is nothing but the sound of crickets and tree frogs....I'm breathing fresh crisp air. No one around, no cars, no people...all is settled, even the chickens...I have no thoughts but peace and quiet, even if it's for a few minutes....To me that's freedom!

August 31, 2011 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Freedom is loving where I am right now and appreciating my family and friends. Looking at the sunset, listening to the wind in the trees, feeling cold river water race by my body as we challenge each other to jump in, that is freedom. All too quickly it can go up in smoke and no great car or fancy stuff help when loved ones are gone. But the beauty of the world beckons to us to live and be free again.

August 31, 2011 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger mdean5417 said...

Pure freedom is the ability to obtain and use all the necessities of life while doing so unencumbered by the will of another.

August 31, 2011 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

This is a fabulous post. We have had many who don't understand what would ever be appealing to living in the country with a garden, chickens, goats, cattle and family...For us its the love of what we do and our freedom to do it.

August 31, 2011 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger just look said...

"Freedom is a word I seldom use without thinking
of the times I've been alone." So goes the final lines of a familiar tune. nuf said...

August 31, 2011 at 10:52 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

Beautiful post!

Just yesterday I was one of those people that longed for the open road. I desparately needed to get away from town and our little subdivision. Don't get me wrong, I love my life, and where we live. We're fortunate enough to back up to the woods, so we have all sorts of wildlife, we're able to have a garden, keep chickens, even hang our clothes out to dry. But every once in a while I need to get out into the country, to hear the sound of true silence, to be free of traffic, and an abundance of people. We ended up in Amish country. It was so beautiful to see all the farms nestled amongst the rolling hills with their signs at the end of the drive advertising what wares they had to offer. To me that is true freedom. Not having to rely on the trappings of modern society. To make a living with one's own hands and skills. To have no need of the lastest fasions or gadgets. That is how we want to live our lives someday. But for now I'm back in my little ranch house, in our quiet little subdivision, feeling renewed and refreshed. Sometimes the open road can be salve for the soul.

August 31, 2011 at 11:26 PM  
Blogger Maryanne Gochenour said...

You should have married my husband. He feels the way you do, or at least he did 30 years ago. Every vacation we took, was spent in agony because he felt, like you, that he was in bondage. This was partly because he had awful childhood memories that equated family vacations to stress and fighting. I do not agree. God has created a marvelous world, and if we have been blessed with health and the means to enjoy it...I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing so. I do not feel it is "escaping responsibility" but an adventure and creating memories that my children and grandchildren will carry with them for the rest of their lives. My husband chose not to partake in most of our family vacations, and now he is in his mid 60s and admitted to me with a heavy heart that he wishes he could reverse father time and put less emphasis on the farm and more emphasis on building family relationships. If we stay isolated in our protected shell that we create to pad ourselves from the economic hardships that are looming before us we are living in fear and that to me is the worst kind of bondage. I put my trust in the Lord, so whatever happens to this old world, I know that my Savior holds my future. We of course must be good stewards and we work hard to garden, can, sew, and prepare for hard times, but if we are always living with the mentality that our world is only as big as our fence posts can stretch....well in my humble opinion...we are missing out on so many beautiful places and faces that this earth has to offer.

August 31, 2011 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Maryanne Gochenour said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 31, 2011 at 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me, a lot of freedom comes down to being able to take care of myself - money and resources, sure, but even more than that to decide what's best for me and how I want to live my life. I'm still not 100% sure of what that will look like tomorrow, let alone years from now, but that's part of the fun, I suppose.

September 1, 2011 at 12:01 AM  
Blogger admin said...

I’m not for frivolity that brings down a country—excessive debt/bad banking or energy use for example—and I do agree that what is required to be happy has been grossly distorted by more than many, but I’m a traditionalist in that I believe in the right toward the “pursuit of happiness”—life on one’s own terms, is freedom. At times it seems that the pursuit of happiness is being hindered by outside factors nowadays (government and/or economic dysfunction, high unemployment) and polluted by materialistic mentalities…other times I remind myself it is grossly worse elsewhere.
Having the confidence that you can make it if, as you say, “the world around you falls apart,” isn’t bad either.

*Thanks for introducing me to the Kunstler Cast, will be tuning in.
**I still get hit by the travel bug now and again, although it seems to be less and less as I get older—I always thought it was due to my wandering ancestors’ DNA…now you have me wondering if I’ve been subconsciously brainwashed.

September 1, 2011 at 12:21 AM  
Blogger Lenni said...

The U.S. was created from a bunch of people that hopped on a boat to create a new life for themselves. This 'love of spontaneity' is nothing new. We are all pretty recent descendants of those pioneers. It seems reasonable that it might be in our genes. Of course there is only so much 'west' to expand into and we all need to be aware and cautious. And it is good to figure out what your freedom really is and not what the commercials tell you. I agree with Maryanne Gochenour that the world is a beautiful place to explore. We should do it wisely but exploration is what landed us here in the U.S in the first place. (Obviously not the Native Americans, they were here first.)

September 1, 2011 at 12:50 AM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

Freedom to me is being able to choose how to spend my day. Not to be tied down to a job I hate just to have money to buy things which, if I were honest, I don't really need. That's a no-brainer I worked out over 25 years ago and although the alternative has sometimes meant living hand to mouth, it's worth it.

Freedom encompasses that ability to be thankful for what we have, for the ability to make things from scratch (and the desire to do so) and above all, to appreciate that - in the words of the song - the best things in life are free . . .

Freedom is knowing what is important in life. I have to say, family and friends come right at the top of the list . . .

September 1, 2011 at 2:52 AM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

Interesting post...Twice in my life so far my hubby and I have taken 'road trip's' for 6 mths or more. Once with 3 toddlers and once with 3 teenagers - as a family some of our best times and as individuals some of our best times have come from those trips. Each time we've actually saved money (we did work a little on the way) but it cost less to live on the road, we eat simply, we live simply - there's no room for stuff (actually we ended on passing on stuff to charities because we didn't need the stuff we did bring)We concentrated on being together in a way that isn't always possible when there are other commitments. I love to grow my own food too and there is a freedom in that but I know when I used to milk goats, my family didn't feel very free when we always had to be home at a certain time for that. Perhaps freedom has more to do with a state of heart then physical space?

September 1, 2011 at 3:35 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I get the impulse to drive off. I moved to 5 states in 5 years (2005-2010)! But now when I think of road trips I just think of vulnerability. You can only do it if there's a line of other people manning ATMs, Gas Stations, grocery stores, and mechanic shops. Goats keep you tied to a place, no doubt about that, but they also keep you closer to food independence! A lot of people up in Killington wish they had a cabin on high ground with some goats, a well, a garden and chickens today!

September 1, 2011 at 7:27 AM  
Blogger sash said...

different freedom strokes for different freedom folks.

September 1, 2011 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger Matt_Middleton said...

I think people crave freedom without responsibility, which you can't really have. Freedom FROM responsibility is when someone else (like a dictator, or an advertiser) says what you can or can't do, which isn't really much of a life IMO.

September 1, 2011 at 7:50 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

Yeah, I don't know. When your daily life is filled with things like working a full-time job, feeding kids, helping with homework, taking kids to sports, etc.....a road trip sounds pretty damn freeing to me. I love being home and taking care of my animals and doing chores, but there are some times when you just need to get out and go somewhere and relax. For the most part, I'm perfectly content to stay home and take care of everything (housework, garden, animals, hubby, stepkids, etc) but there are some times I want to be free and not have to do anything at all!

September 1, 2011 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Lindy and Paul said...

Wow, I think you wrote this just for me today, Jenna! I just returned from an 8 day workshop/vacation that was extremely enjoyable, and immediately faced parenting responsibilities, housework, farm decisions, etc. You just helped me get over a pity party and put it all right back into perspective!!!

September 1, 2011 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Floridagirl said...

I love to travel and see other places, and, like one of your other commentors, I would be doing this even if no energy usage were involved other than my feet. Home is the most important place but humankind has been moving about for milleniums, even those who grew things and had animals. Nomads carry their home with them. It isn't lack of responsibility, it's curiosity that compels me to travel. Your curiosity and needs are satisfied in other ways than mine. Freedom is the ability to do what "I" choose without harm to others.

September 1, 2011 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

My comments and post were not anti-travel. I would be on Jaspers back hitting the road now and again with the rest of you. But the road trip isnt what it used to be, and as resources get more expensive and scarce - i think we will see less of it.

September 1, 2011 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

American citizen experience the highest levels of freedom in the world. This freedom allows me to make decisions which increase or decrease my happiness and reliance on others.

I read this post as you feel like youre at the mercy of others while traveling, when in fact we're all at the "mercy" of others on a daily basis.

you are at the mercy of money at home (just spoke of paying off a chimney), you are at the mercy of the weather at home (what did you spend the better of last week/weekend concerning yourself with?), you are at the mercy of oil at home (look back X months ago and many posts referenced having to purchase heating oil for your home), you are at the mercy of food availability at home (already purchasing/storing up hay for the winter), mercy of road conditions...just recall the snowy icy conditions of last winter or of your longer commute just this week.

i experience happiness through my freedom of choice, be it not moving my car for a weekend or packing up the dogs and hitting the road.

September 1, 2011 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger chesapeake said...

As Jennifer said, some people are looking for home. It's what my husband and I did this summer. Three months ago today, after he quit his job, we sold half of our stuff, and saved up money, we hooked up a 5x8 Uhaul trailer to our VW Beetle and drove across the country in search of home. After a few u-turns, a week later we were settled into our new home state of Utah. I was so happy not to be stuck on the road anymore, I will tell you!

I think people fantasize about driving away because it keeps them from facing the fact that we are all, every one of us, free. With every decision we make, we are in control of our futures, of our nows. Most people do not want that. They'd rather blame someone else for their lives.

So to me, life is freedom. We are all free, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. The move we made was indicative of that. So many people say "someday" when someday always equals never. There is no boogeyman, the sky will not fall down if you question the status quo, and you are 100% in control of your own actions. We are free to do as we choose. Waking up to the fact that you can choose another way to think, feel, and act is freedom.

September 1, 2011 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Freedom of speech is so precious. We can say, or write, or paint, anything we want and will not be thrown in prison. As a woman, I have the right to vote, to dress however I want, to work, to live alone and to travel by myself. A lot of people in the world don't have those freedoms.

September 1, 2011 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Susannah of Cricklewood Farm said...

You said it, farm girl!

Freedom for me is independence - from all the things Jenna mentioned and more. It's not about shirking responsibility, because being responsible is not the antithesis of freedom. Being dependent, however, is.

I no longer live within the credit system. I pay cash for everything. This means I have to plan my purchases, watch my budget continually, go without most "luxuries" and save for the special treats (like a cheap $50 dollar fiddle and a book to teach me to use it!).

I grow or raise most of my own food. I manufacture my own yarn and knit my own warm clothing. I sew. I build. I bake. I walk or bike to my destinations, or car share on longer trips.

I have only my own ingenuity, two hands and motivation to depend on.

That is freedom.

September 1, 2011 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger simplestead said...

I totally agree with today's post. Freedom to my husband and I is being debt free (working on it) and learning the skills in order to be self sufficient on our own farm someday where we can raise our kids simply.

September 1, 2011 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Sacha Joy said...

Have you read Steinbeck's "Travels with Charlie"? You must, especially when thinking on the Great American Restlessness. There's a great audiobook version out there.

September 1, 2011 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

freedom: once a year, 3 days in a car with my mom and my cousin, driving to vermont from Quebec Canada with 300$ each in out pocket (some times less, but never more) to go to the quilt show (which is just an excuse realy) and have adventure.

Adventure: no map, but a GPS rout to the b & B if we need it; wine in a hot tub till 1:00am (my mom calmly saying "save the wine!" as she slips and goes under; we saved the wine...); 2 hours at a church rummage sale, with no one saying come on come on we have to go; my cousin taking 2 hours to grab her camera and take a photo shoot in someones wild garden while mom and i wander; a moonlit walk in a cemetery smoking a forbidden cigaret; finding the jerico general store; a postcard from the snowflake man; getting caut with too much booze at the border and my mother scream whispering for us to hide the extras right in front of the border guard

freedom: no one, including ourselves, judging anything we do for 3 days, no one rushing us to go anywair, no one telling us to calm ourselves or telling us off.

those 3 days get us through the rest of the year of being responsible adults.


September 1, 2011 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

Well said, Jenna.

September 1, 2011 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger karental said...

We were just on vacation, and the inability to cook for ourselves was terrible. Mister has some health issues, and eating out is a nightmare.

To me freedom would include the ability to have my own water on my own land. Currently water in my state is sold to bottling companies, and water for residents comes from three states away. Scary. We need to get out of here.

September 1, 2011 at 4:50 PM  
Blogger Patti said...

Freedom to me is being able to tell the truth out loud.

September 1, 2011 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Simon Fairbairn said...

Freedom is a romanticized notion, but in itself is a purely negative goal—the escape FROM something. In your case, you cite the illusion of security ("knowing that if the world around you falls apart, you can make it a little while, maybe longer") as freedom, but in reality this illusion is something you've created to escape from your own fears (the fear of the world caving in, it seems).

Your view of the open road is a straw man. Even when you deal with corporations (which you don't have to), there are still people with first names at the front of those corporations. And it's not all traffic laws and police harassment.

There is almost a point in here that I can get behind: Do whatever rocks your world. If you love riding, or tending gardens, or playing XBox 360—do whatever you can to make that your life.

But really there's no need to tear down other people's choices to justify your own decisions.

September 1, 2011 at 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent, excellent post. And your idea of freedom is something that I think a lot more of us are working towards these days. Thanks for sharing.

September 1, 2011 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Sewing Machine Girl said...

freedom for me is that I can feed myself warm food when the power goes out. I can unplug from the nuclear power plant down the way. I have taken a LOT of time to learn what my grampa used to know but what we thought we didn't need anymore. Freedom is not driving to Cali just "because". I am not a luddite but sometimes I just want to throw away all this stuff. I say this while I type this comment on my laptop. Oh yes, and not being a wage slave because of credit cards, flat panel TV's, clothes, cars or the like. But, I will spend a fair amount on a nice laying hen, she earns her way.

September 1, 2011 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

freedom for me is a retreaving my flock of sheep at sunset. I call my hi pitched "shaaaeeeep! and they bawl and start racing toward me then we walk silently 1/2 mile home. They settle in and so do I. all night not but 30 feet apart them in the barn and me in the yurt.

September 1, 2011 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

So guys:

If tomorrow you found out there was no more electricity would you be terrified or relieved?

I'd be the former for a while, and then the later in the end. I hope.

September 1, 2011 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Jeff_in_Pawlet said...

"Freedom is only the distance between the hunter and his prey." Zhenkai Zhad

Too bad you missed the days of touring with the Grateful Dead. But you got the right idea in the end.

September 2, 2011 at 1:02 AM  
Blogger admin said...

Intriguing, this idea of freedom connected to energy use. My inclinations towards self sufficiency is more because it feels right somewhere in my make-up, not so much because I’m preparing myself for a Kunstler style world. Just the same, if “disaster” were to strike I believe I’d have an upper hand. My family and I once made it about a month with no electricity due to an ice storm/blizzard and we managed fine. Luckily we had enough food for us and the animals on our isolated plot of land, and I don’t think we were either terrified or relieved, we all just accepted it. However we knew someday the power would be back on.
Life without electricity…raise some food, read a lot of books, make my own music more—pretty much what I’m attempting to do now only in larger quantities. Would this make life better? When I list it all out like that, yes in many areas it would—until I needed a medical procedure to keep me alive or wanted to find instant information about what’s making my tomatoes sick via the internet…. I’d also probably find a cooler local to live in or build a more practical house for desert life if this was permanent.

One thing I wouldn’t miss—the utility bill, I’d be relieved about that.

September 2, 2011 at 1:28 AM  
Blogger mrfrank said...

Freedom for me is not owning a car a home or any other box.

September 2, 2011 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I like the idea of living without electricity but there are things I would really miss only a few things but they really do make a huge impact on my life. mostly my freezer, the air conditioner and hot water tank (at least in the winter). I love hot showers! But... I bet I would survive:)

September 2, 2011 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

I agree with Simon.

Also, freedom to me is the ability to not worry despite an unpredictable world... in fact, to trust the universe, no matter what it throws at me. I love to see new places and meet new people, travelling primarily by train and bicycle. I have no interest in becoming totally self-sufficient as far as my basic needs are concerned. I could certainly stand to learn to grow some more veggies in my garden, but I have all the respect in the world for the sustainable farmers out there who are providing me with good food while I provide the world with good music. I don't think we ALL need to madly learn how to feed ourselves. I still think some division of labour is a good thing. In short, I believe that the world will provide for me, and I still believe everybody needs to do hard work, just not necessarily the same kind!

September 2, 2011 at 7:56 PM  
Blogger John said...

A person dependent on somebody else for everything from potatoes to opinions may declare that he is a free man, and his government may issue a certificate granting him his freedom, but he will not be free. He is that variety of specialist known as a consumer, which means that he is the abject dependent of producers. How can he be free if he can do nothing for himself? What is the First Amendment to him whose mouth is stuck to the tit of the “affluent society”? Men are free precisely to the extent that they are equal to their own needs. The most able are the most free."
–Wendell Berry, “Discipline and Hope” in A Continuous Harmony (1972)

September 2, 2011 at 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God, what a GREAT post.

In the open road song by Kris Kristofferson, freedom is "Just another word for nothing left to lose," and I disagree with that.

I LOVE what you said about it.

Freedom is not being imprisoned by reliance on the unreliable, like corporations and governments and ideologies. As a native of Maine I grew up with that idea, that freedom is doing for yourself. It's not supposed to be a rush, it's not supposed to be comfortable and it's not to be taken for granted. Freedom is something you earn all the time, by every action you take.

September 3, 2011 at 8:43 AM  

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