Originally pubished in The Beard Book.

I have aspirations of an alternative lifestyle. One where most of my daily needs are provided directly from my effort and not acquired in exchange for an hourly wage. When I tell people this they often reply: “That sounds like a lot of work,” to which I reply: “Exactly.” Fulfilling, diverse work accompanied by the satisfaction that only doing it yourself can provide.

The old ways fascinate me, and not in an antiquated way. We rely on large factories and assembly lines for our daily needs, but our ancestors have thrived using simpler methods that are often healthier for them and their environment. Building a home that is designed for longevity instead of economy, growing food without pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and raising livestock in a way that’s actually good for the animals - in addition to all that is involved in preparing and preserving what these provide are just a few of the seemingly lost practices I admire.

Although there are many modern conveniences I can live without, I am not anti-technology. Alternative energy, efficient architecture, and organic farming are all practices that rely on the most current scientific knowledge to succeed. I’ve always been interested in repairing and designing mechanical systems and hope to be working with my hands, as an occupation instead of a hobby, for the rest of my life. The thought of tinkering with an old tractor in a workshop by the heat of a wood burning stove, preparing for the next planting season is enough to make my eyes glossy.

The transition is where I am right now. Only time will tell if I’m able to accomplish even a fraction of my goals. I do know that I’ll always be learning, always adjusting my perception of the world around me, and always be willing to give up an ideal I thought to be certain when a more sensible choice is presented.