Only In America

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray

When I picked up my first copy of Mother Earth News in 1970, I never realized I would one day be contributing to the magazine.  Back then it was newsprint style and not the colorful  magazine it is today. I remember that I was on my lunch hour and just ambling through the businesses in our area when I first saw the magazine in a rack and picked up a copy. I was hooked and have been reading the magazine ever since. I’m obviously not the only one because it has grown tremendously popular since those early days.  

I have tucked away in my memory many of the topics early contributors wrote thinking they would come in handy one day. They did and I have tapped that memory bank many times. Now days it is only a matter of accessing the web site and using the search engine to go back and find what you want from archived topics.  

It wouldn’t have occurred to me back then;  that 43 years later, I would be living on the side of a mountain in our little homestead benefiting from all the things I had tucked away in my memory bank from Mother. So here I sit  typing this on my laptop and living exactly how I had dreamed and hoped it would be one day. The lesson is to stick with your dream regardless of the twists and turns of life. Attainment is always possible if your dream is realistic. My current thought which comes to mind is “Only in America” could a young boy’s dreams actually become a reality. No one could be more amazed at this than myself because life pulls us in so many different directions. I never had a desire of being rich and famous; only to live close to the earth being comfortable and more self sufficient. I easily accomplished not being rich and famous but the living close to the earth and being self sufficient took a long journey and a lot of focus and patience. When I left my corporate environment and took an early retirement people thought I was crazy. In spite of that I got off the trail of life and couldn’t be happier with my choice.  

Contrary to popular cultural belief that tells us to ‘get over it – move on’, what works best for me is to occasionally pause taking time to look back instead of moving on. While I value other people’s opinions, I don’t pattern my life based on what they believe I should do. What you gain in looking back won’t always be pleasant but by seeing where you have been, where you presently are can give a much clearer direction for where you want to be in the future. As a hiker I know the real value of looking back periodically. It keeps you on course and keeps you going straight ahead instead of walking in circles. If you are on a well used trail you won’t need to look back because you can always turn around and return where you came from. Your life may not be as fulfilled but it will be safer and you won’t ever get lost. All you will accomplish is making a little deeper rut in an established trail and walking it again and again. However  to enjoy life more you may need to get off the trail occasionally. Then  be sure to look back periodically to make sure you are not walking in a circle and keep moving toward the goal.   

I hope my experience and words will inspire others to pursue your homesteading dream where ever it may be along the path of life. Sometimes a happy life is not measured in fame or dollars but instead on earthy grounding and by achieving a long hoped for dream and being self sufficient. So here I sit  typing this to share and hopefully inspire others just like I once was inspired from persistently reading the right magazine. Had I known I would be doing this I would have paid better attention in my English classes when I was younger. Sure would have made doing this easier.  Like I said earlier, no one is more surprised than I am but it sure is enjoyable. Only in America.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their life in the mountains go to: