Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Michelle's Note: The following is an article that Cam wrote for a local newspaper about 13 years ago as we were preparing for our move to Sunflower Farm. The comments that Cam made are as appropriate today as they were back then. I thought you might enjoy reading about Cam's reasons for wanting to leave the city....
Pursuing a Labour of Love
I’ve grown weary of the city so I’m moving to the country. This is not a revelation and people have been doing it for eons, but I must wonder if their reasons are consistent with mine.
I’ve grown tired of people obsessed with huge vehicles whose size increases outrageously as their abysmal fuel economy decreases. These same people risk my safety and the safety of others by running red lights because of the stress created by the work required to purchase such beasts. This culture measures a person’s success by the level of their consumption and going to a mall is the most popular pastime.
So our family has taken our two-bedroom bungalow on a small lot in the city and turned it into 150 acres in Eastern Ontario with a century-old farmhouse, a guesthouse and a horse barn. Our new home has no hydro lines to it, but it has lights and other conveniences powered by its solar panels. It has a wind generator to complement the solar power in months like November when there’s a lot of wind and less sunlight. So we’ll never have another Hydro bill and we’ll no longer contribute to the gases that are heating up our atmosphere created by power plants burning fossil fuels.
As an Ontario taxpayer I will be saddled with my share of the massive debt created by my utility’s poorly planned megaproject mentality, but when I hear of towns fighting to keep nuclear waste from being stored in their communities, I’ll no longer be contributing to its generation.
I’ve decided to stop living in fear. I’m going to stop worrying about how much money is in my RRSP, regardless of how much the mutual fund companies try to persuade me what I need. I’m going to stop worrying about my future and start enjoying my here and now. At 40, too many of my friends have died from awful diseases, and I know at the end, none of them were concerned about their bank accounts. I’ve seen too many people retire after living a life based on their employment unable to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labour.
I’m trading in my ambition for a garden hoe and I’m going to grow the food on my table. I’m going to walk out my back door into my forest rather than lining up with hundreds of other cars to pay for a walk in the woods at my local conservation authority.
I’m going to stop thinking that I can only enjoy time off during the two weeks in the summer where I find that a culture saturated with beer commercials can only seek pleasure in noisy jet skis and a basic level of hooliganism that now even ruins Algonquin Park canoe trips.
I’m trading in the air that I watch from a perch on the escarpment turn increasingly brown as the week progresses, for clean air with thousands of acres of forests acting as lungs around my home.
I’m trading in the constant and ever increasing noise that bombards me in the city for the call of the whippoorwills and the howl of the coyotes.
I will experience the subtle changing of seasons from my front porch and my forest, rather than from the flyers in my newspaper telling me what I should be purchasing for the current time of the year.
Of course I’m not naive to think this will be without its costs. There will be no trips to exotic lands, no “micro vacations.” There will be no money for a sports car to ward off my mid-life crisis at 50, or weekend junkets to Las Vegas. But this I can handle. Eating strawberries from the plants in my garden will be a reasonable substitute. And I’ll take a day of working manure into my soil over a weekend at the spa any day.
I’ll still work for pay but only enough to live. I’m going to stop saving for the future at the expense of enjoying today.
My children will have to fund their own post-secondary education and I hope some day they will understand why I made this decision. But when I became a parent I don’t remember trading in my dreams to fund my children’s ambitions. I’ll do what I can, but in a world where the amount of information doubles every five years, how relevant is static knowledge? I hope my children will share my love of learning that will help me to run our solar house and learn how deep to plant my asparagus. As long as they have the desire to acquire information and the tools to find it, I think my kids will be all right.
I have been blessed to live in a wonderful country and I’m going to start taking the time to enjoy it. I hope the advertisers don’t mind me dropping out. If the bumper sticker that says “The person with the most toys wins” is true, then I’m destined to lose. But if finally learning how to relax and stop dreading Sunday nights like a trip to the dentist is the goal, I think I’m on track. If my work boots are comfortable and my fruit trees are healthy, all will be well.
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Cam has written two books since moving to his country home; "Thriving During Challenging Times" and "The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook." For more information about Cam or his books, please visit www.cammather.com or www.aztext.com