Sunday, January 24, 2010
making our wondrous lives work
Before we came back home we sat in a freezing, damp Italian farmhouse in Chianti. Shivering under the mound of covers, we peaked only our eyes above the blankets and wondered where we’ll go next, what we’ll do, how we’ll continue to make our wondrous lives work. We decided that we are done with organic farming. We learned what we needed to know, met some amazing people whom we now count as our friends, and decided that commercial agriculture is not for us. We want to have a large garden, goats, chickens -- essentially a homestead, not a farm.
So here we are. We’ve come this far. Seen Petra and cooked dal in an Indian home, climbed Vesuvius, dove into pristine reefs, ambled through an ancient Chinese village. We’re not fit for civil society anymore. We can’t just sit in an office with the whole world out there and all its golden sunsets and ripe tomatoes, ancient sculptures and wild animals. We need to keep going, seeing it all, breathing it in, learning it.
The goal? To own land, a home, be debt free, garner pieces of paper that say we are highly educated and then probably never use them, have children, learn to work the land, never stop seeing the world in all its beauty, write books, take photos, laugh with friends, cry with family, eat our own roasted chickens and be taut but plump and merry.
After only a few weeks together concocting and devising deviously, we have a plan. We have gotten funded by the government to get our Commercial Drivers’ Licenses (CDL), which we’ll use to get some money before grad school (if we get in) or continuing after the fall if we don’t. In either case, it’s a valuable skill and a job that can stopped and started at will. It also monetizes all of the things that don’t make us fit for most other careers: we want to be together, we want flexible hours, we want to travel, to set our own schedules, and are willing to live in what most would consider uncomfortable quarters.
We have devised ingenious plans to maximize our time: we are planning to download public domain audio books (from Librovox, you should check it out) and spend our driving hours listening to the classics we would probably never read otherwise (Crime and Punishment, the Iliad, Hamlet, Great Expectations, Sense and Sensibility, Great Expectations, the Odyssey); whenever we are driving through a city where there are people that we know, we will stop for lunch and hang out with them (so we’ll be getting to see people so much more often than we otherwise would); we will take our four days off a month to visit different cities across the country (Chicago, Phoenix, Montreal, NYC, Boulder, Savannah and Charleston, New Orleans, DC, Boston, Santa Fe); and we’ll each be making a thousand bucks a week doing it.
I mean, I recognize that it’s dangerous, and that there’s no doubt a stigma attached to truck drivers (it’s not something I plan to list on my resume), but we are serious about being debt-free (even to the point of not taking out a mortgage), and if that means I drive an 18-wheeler until I get my PhD, than that’s what it means. I have no pretenses of living a status quo life, or even one that makes sense in even the broadest understandings of class, race or gender roles. But isn’t that what it’s all about? Listening to Dostoyevky and watching the red rocks of the Colorado Plateau roll by outside my window, seeing friends and family and having a clear set of values that guide each and every decision I make. This is life. This is my life.