This morning was the big clean-out day in my pantry and larder. Through the years, one tends to amass items that, for a short time, seem important but upon further reflection bear no real significance to one’s current daily activities or lifestyle. Today I came face to face with the small nooks of my own hording and asked myself, truly, if these items were really necessary for me to continue to hold on to into the future. Some of the treasures I uncovered included various shapes and sizes of vessels for holding any number of products; gallon jugs, half gallon jugs, salad dressing-sized jars, glass cylinders for ferments, etc. etc. etc…. Every item I touched was covered in a thick layer of dust indicating their obsolescence to my current life stage. So I sucked it up, grabbed a cardboard box and one by one placed these items into the give-away pile. Some I pondered longer than others before placing them into the box….my inner preparedness expert screaming out that ‘someday-I might need this or that’ and when that time comes I will be overcome with regret for placing said item willingly into the hands of someone else. And then a part of me opened up and was overjoyed with the prospect of the future life that existed for everything contained within that box. To someone else, my ‘yesterday’ would be their ‘today’. And with a great sense of relief I placed the box in my car, forever sealing its fate.
Next on my list was my stockpile of canned and dried food. Each jar I touched contained hours of love and labor. Each had been prepared under the best of intentions; the long-term security of my family’s needs. I ruminated over the small mountain of clearly past-prime goods that started to build on my pantry floor. Then, one by one, I opened the lids and dumped the contents into the compost. And inside, part of me rejoiced and part of me cried.
The reality of the matter is that it is impossible, even when you try your hardest, to hold on to everything. All these jars were my attempt to hold on to the sunshine that I felt years ago, to hold on to the colors and flavors that I no longer feel a desire for. These jars were meant to hold onto a feeling of safety and of ‘enough-ness’ in a time when I felt so much vulnerability and desperation (and despair). Today, I came face to face with my past and chose, for the most part, to move into the future. I realized that there is a distinct difference between survivalism and homesteading and often that line is a blurry, hazy mess of emotions based off of past life experiences and future hopes and dreams. A survivialist goes it alone; a homesteader believes in the power of community. I mean really, how naïve we humans are to believe that we have the ability to make do in this world without reliance on the talent of others. Truly, my pantry is not large enough to ‘survive’ any major catastrophe longer than a few weeks, maybe months. How large of a horde would one need to really survive or more importantly, to continue to thrive? Frankly, thriving is not something I would choose to do alone and instead feel it is much more rewarding to continue into the future believing that given the opportunity to test ones abilities, we would all be better off working together.
So today, I transitioned back to being a homesteader and made one more move away from the depressing world of survivalism. I will continue to set aside the provisions I need to keep my family well-fed and comfortable and I will hold on to the tools I still feel are relevant given my own personal talents. But I will no longer hold on to the quiet expectation that has lingered on and off in the back of my mind that, if the moment arrived, somehow my family’s future would be fulfilling without the assistance of others. This little lie is the distinction between optimism and fear. I am letting go of my fear and am trusting in my friends.