How to Be Self-Sufficient

martha cinader

Why till instead of pay a grocery bill? I had a neighbor in California who laughed at my gardening efforts from the other side of his fence. He used to say “I just go to the grocery store for that stuff”. He preferred to grow exotic flowers. Other people prefer computers to hoes, fast food to slow food, airplane aisles and the latest styles to eating greens and picking green beans. Personally, I prefer a garden hose to panty hose, and my own vacation playground year round. I like to be part of a general effort to make or keep my environment beautiful and productive, not just take pictures or wish I was there.

My title is a trick really, because no one is self-sufficient. We all rely on someone to survive infancy. Then we still need a supply chain, a helping hand along the way, a teacher, a loan, encouraging words. But if we just depend on others, or good luck, it’s not enough. So the real idea for all of us is to be as self-sufficient as possible. The trick is to do my part, and give props to those who pick up where I leave off. The paradox is that together as a family, extended family, society, we are more self-sufficient than each of us by ourselves.

You could go with the prevailing idea that self-sufficiency is the ability to be employed and stay employed at a job that covers your living expenses; to be in possession of a car and a license to drive a car and the gasoline to start the car to get to the supermarket before a snow storm to buy milk and bread and butter and eggs. But what if you got there and the shelves were empty? My idea of thriving has evolved to encompass the idea that to be self-sufficient is to have practical knowledge of how to do essential tasks. Food is essential, but you could translate the idea for any situation. Say you rely on your computer to make a living. To be self-sufficient you would learn how to fix it yourself when it is broken. You would have what you need on hand to do the job. A traveling salesman would know how to fix his own car, and get moving down the road again. A homeowner can do maintenance jobs and clean her own house. But no matter what we do with our days and nights, we all have to eat.

To be self-sufficient when it comes to eating, the place to start is to cook for yourself. If you couldn’t get any bread, then you would feel pretty good about having a well-stocked kitchen with everything you need on hand to make a loaf of bread. You could go on from there to grow the food, or catch it, and preserve it too. But what would be the point if you’re not going to cook it? The dinner table will keep your family together, the doctor away, and more money in the bank for a rainy day. Thought for food is well directed. No matter how successful you are, how much money you have in the bank, if you can’t fix a simple meal for yourself, or eat a healthy meal together with your family, or light a candle at a table for two that shows your appreciation for someone special, then how accomplished are you really?

For me the degree to which I am self-sufficient is the degree to which I am Free. How to be self-sufficient? That is the question.

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