Escaping Reality or Walking Headlong into It?
I love my little homestead on the edge of town. It is a stormy weekend here on the Central Coast; grey clouds cover the sky and rain falls light and soft. The Sycamore tree outside my window is the color of New England, red and gold and brown. Leaves fall, swirling around with each puff of wind before landing on the wet ground, insulating bulbs planted this fall.
As I write, there is a blazing fire in front of me, crackling and popping with wood laid in back in September. A stockpot bubbles on the stove, full of vegetables and herbs and chicken raised and killed on our farm this past spring. Soft instrumental music floats through the house, the sounds of winter found on Pandora. It is quiet and peaceful and reflective. It is home, an oasis, a refuge from a chaotic world just outside me.
My friends and acquaintances say I don’t live in the real world, that what I have created is unnatural, a fantasy, a fake world not based on reality. They think I am hiding from life, from drama, from real problems and real situations. But, is it—hiding? Or, is it looking life square in the face and consciously deciding to have something different? A different kind of life; a better life; one based solely on realism.
The daily life of a farm is the most real place you can be. There is living and dying on a farm; crops to be planted so they grow to their most bountiful, animals to be bred so offspring is born during the right season, meat animals to be raised to get a family through the winter. Animals to care for no matter what the weather is, what other pleasures may be sought, what schedules must be kept. Oh, sure you can always run to the store to buy a pre-made meal, but is that the real world? Or, is that the fake and shallow world created by corporations and consumerism?
Is it more real to spend the day walking a mall full of pushing crowds and glaring lights and blaring sounds? Or, is a real life found in the natural flow of a farm? Is reality found in dashing out on a cold winter’s day frantic to get an extra discount on something you already have or don’t really need? Or, is reality found in a home that can care for its family no matter what difficulties may come?
How much more real can you be growing your own food, trading or bartering with others, helping friends in need and being part of a community that understands what real life is, appreciating the hardships and pleasures it can afford, while reveling in the natural beauty of it all.
I suppose we all have a different view on what is real and what reality is. It is shaped by our values, our upbringing, our life experiences. It ebbs and flows as we age and live and grow; deciding what we want for ourselves and from ourselves.
Farming is MY reality. I look out over my little farm and see a decade worth of work and striving and accomplishment. My farm is what solidifies me, quiets my soul, makes me happy, and makes me—REAL.
Do you find the homesteading life an escape from life? Or, a strong walk into reality? I’d love to know.
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