There’s a bit of dialog I always liked in the novel ‘Lord Johnnie’:
“How did you get to be so hellish wise, old one?”
“You can’t travel a long road without picking up some dust.”
In that vein, I offer the following dust:
Most people acquire some understanding of the world, correct or otherwise, in early adulthood and cling to that no matter what happens. They haven’t had a new thought since they found out little boys are different from little girls (they’re still working out the implications on that one). They think at 40 or 50 or 60 pretty much the same as they thought at 25. Aside from whether or not their original understanding was correct, the world changes and they don’t.
(A lot of marital problems arise from similar cause:
She marries thinking she can change Him. She can’t.
He marries thinking She will never change. She does.)
…but I digress…
From time to time, I systematically re-examine my beliefs as a way to improve my understanding of the world and integrate new ideas and experiences into my decision-making process – and hopefully avoid becoming an old fart (which has worked better than expected but not as well as it should).
It’s a habit I got into in my teens when I could no longer ignore the disconnect between the reality I saw around me and the Establishment view of life, religion, politics, morals, culture, truth, Justice and The American Way.
That is, the hypocrisy was beginning to wear thin.
Over several years I separated what I believed because I’d experienced it or figured it out myself and what I had accepted because it was taught by others. I wanted to be able to predict everything so I could be prepared to handle whatever came down the pike.
In other words, I was insecure.
A lot of bullshit got dumped, but unfortunately more accumulates, so I repeat the process periodically.
Although I try, I guess I’m just not cynical enough to avoid collecting some of the bullshit.
(I don’t think anyone is immune to bullshit and wouldn’t want to know anyone who was).
Over the years I have discovered several things:
1) Robbie Burns was right – “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.”
2) I can successfully fly by the seat of my pants most of the time.
3) When #2 fails, advance knowledge wouldn’t have helped anyway.
4) The simplest things are usually the most important and valuable.
Regarding #1, for various reasons, some under my control, some not, my nest egg got scrambled. I now look forward to an involuntary retirement with reduced income. However, because of #2, it may well be the best thing that could have happened at this point in my life. If I had retired several years ago and committed myself to the lifestyle of the day, I’d be much worse off when the shit hits the fan in the next few years. Forcing me to re-target my future now was a favor.
Now I just have to keep #3 & #4 in mind…
I am reminded of #4 by Don’s post of the video interview with Dmitri Orlov. A great takeaway line when he remarked that immigrants were sending money home – “take care of others and they’ll take care of you”.
Having spent most of my adult life in highly intellectual pursuits – computer programming & hi-tech, voracious reading, writing, etc. – I find myself lacking many of the skills that are useful in a downsized, community-based world.
I do not have as much to offer others as I would like, both for their sake and my own.
I am therefore in the process of relearning some of the skills of my youth: gardening, rough carpentry and cabinetry, food preservation (gotta learn to make cheese!). If time and opportunity permit, I will get into masonry, homebuilding and geology/mineralogy (lot of prospecting to be done in my calf country).
I am also learning spinning, weaving and metalworking – hobby crafts today, possible necessities tomorrow.
Making myself more independent is good. Using whatever skills I have to help others is good.
Though I’m improving, right now I still live too much in the ‘money economy’ but there are some benefits to that.
I spend a lot of time Online – reading, learning, downloading, communicating and shopping.
Figure I might as well get as much as I can out of the high-tech world while it lasts.
Within the next 12-18 months, I expect to be building a new home, as off-the-grid as possible, in the small town where I grew up.
I want to do as much as I can (at 74) of the actual construction myself, but I will surely benefit from members of my extended family who have significant skills in that area.
I will probably blog about it as I go along and once I get started I’ll post a link here for anyone who’s interested.
…assuming I (and you) still have electricity and Internet access…