I was listening to “On Point” yesterday on NPR and heard an interview with Kurt Timmermeister, author of “Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live off the Land.” Kurt, a novice farmer, gave advice on those aspiring to start a small-scale farm (a popular dream lately, it seems).
Timmermeister’s story and his straight-forward, honest advice was impressive, but I was particularly struck by those who called into the program. Many were young 20 and 30-somethings who had their own dreams of starting a little plot of heaven somewhere. One woman and her partner were saving half of each paycheck to buy their own land with the plan of becoming subsistence farmers. She understood that she’d probably have to have a part-time job once in a while, but that would be secondary; her main source of happiness and accomplishment would be growing her own food and living out this healthy lifestyle with her family.
While some of these callers were overly idealistic (and unrealistic) about their farm dream, many sounded like people interested in creating an alternative means of living, creating a self-styled life.
These stories brought back all of the initial feelings I had about my own quest–the feelings that brought me here. It is so easy, especially while job searching, to lose these. Because we still have to survive in the existing economic paradigm, it’s easy to get sucked back into the notion that we need to have a traditional career path, that our worth comes from some external measure of success in the professional world.
I have to remind myself over and over that I don’t want that for my life. I keep having the same epiphany whenever I encounter something that inspires me. No matter what I do–how or where I find a job–the traditional career path is not for me. Instead, I will entertain a variety of interests and cultivate a multitude of passions, all the while remaining open-minded to change.
It is HARD to imagine what that looks like. Scary. But it’s POSSIBLE. Others have done it!
I will definitely be reading “Growing a Farmer…” Though I don’t necessarily want to become a small-scale farmer myself, Timmermeister’s admonitions about hard work and the challenges of going after his dream still resonated with me. A self-styled life does not form itself overnight. You need to be proactive about creating it, realistic about how to get there, honest about your goals and flexible about the results!