This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I continue to be attracted to two separate, but similar topics, which I have subscribed to and have moved up my blog reader.  I am continually reading several blogs, including The Aiki Homestead – about a guy who moved from Southern Ontario to the north and is currently living in a yurt.  Another homesteading blog that I really like is “The Walden Effect” , which is documenting a couple’s homesteading lifestyle as relative beginners to more learned veterans of living off the land.  As for Survivalist Blogs, I mainly read “The Redneck Survivalist“, which is relatively new, and is written by a guy from Ontario.

My wife and I have talked (well, I have rambled and she has listened) about this new interest of mine – her main question, which is what she asks whenever I start talking about something a little too much,  is how much it would affect her.  At this point, it really won’t as I am enjoying just reading about these topics.

So, why the interest?  I think that I am feeling somewhat detached these days.  There is nothing that I really do that affects anything that I do to stay alive.  I buy all my food at the store or from other people that grow it for me, my house was purchased, I turn a tap and water comes, I hit a switch and heat comes for cooking or warmth.  I spend all day sitting at a desk looking at numbers, and hitting keys to change these numbers, which realistically speaking doesn’t really change anything.

Up until even 100 to 150 years ago, most people at least grew some of their own food and could do most of their own repairs.  Our current world has resulted in hyper-specialization, which has placed a significant opportunity cost to learning skills that you can pay someone to do for you (think a mechanic, plumber, or electrician).

So, I think that I am vicariously living through people who are actually (in their own way) living an independent life.  This is something that I hope Early Retirement will allow me to do – to get away from the highly technical and detached world to a lifestyle that I’m currently living in and slow down to enjoy the day-to-day life that I jealously watch these people living in the Homesteading blog, allowing me to be better prepared for any pending disasters that I kind of freak myself out about in survivalist blogs.

It seems that most people are okay with current society, in a movement towards urban living and the new “thing” rather than enjoying life.  I am attempting to achieve this as well.

Am I alone in feeling this kind of detachment?  Or are there others who wish for a simpler life?

8 thoughts on “Detachment”

  1. “There is nothing that I really do that affects anything that I do to stay alive” – it’s exactly this ability that lets us think and innovate. I personally enjoy learning and making more than supplying basic living requirements.

  2. Detachment can go the other way as well. When you are self-sustaining, it can lead to feeling not connected to the rest of the world. I grew up with a father who could do everything (before computers took over). We never had work done for us, we did it ourselves, and although I do not know anywhere near as much as he did, I know enough to know my own limits. We grew some of our food, preserved food we grew or bought cheaply at the market. We raised chickens and rabbits, some we sold, some we ate (my father or sister doing the butchering). We would also fish, although not as regularly. My mum would still buy some meat from the store (if it was on sale) for variety.
    As the city spread to take over where I grew up, we did less things for ourselves (by-laws against keeping so many animals, and aging parents that just found it too hard to look after a vegetable garden).
    Fast forward to now, I assume self-sufficiency. If I go to buy something (furniture etc), I expect to bring it home with me. I am responsible for me and mine, I don’t want a company to assume I want them to look after me any further than a simple transaction and the warranty for their product. I can figure things out for myself, and find it inconvenient to have to abide by someone else’s schedule or rules if I need something I cannot provide or do myself.
    I know I’m viewed as an oddity, and am now selective in my interactions with others. Too many times when I’ve asked “why didn’t you do it yourself?”, I’ve been looked at like I’m an alien.
    I should move back out to the country, I think I’d belong there better, but that’s the whole point of FI, to do what we want, on our own terms.

  3. I think everyone likes to feel like they know how to build/create something, even if it isn’t as close to nature as chopping wood, building your own house, preserving your own food. However I think those skills are really cool! A coworker of mine who’s in Marketing has recently decided to quit and go back to school for construction management. His reason is he wants to see things and know how to build things himself. He feels at his current job that he is just pushing papers and quite naturally that is unsatisfying. I myself love to program, build websites, sometimes by scratch and sometimes as quick as you can using various modules on the market. I’ll be going in Computer Engineering soon to see how computer circuits, etc and it would be amazing to build my own computer. Or even getting the hardware to talk to the software.

    At home we laid done the hardwood floor ourselves, refaced our kitchen and made a new tiled kitchen counter, even cut the hole where the sink goes. This is big for me as I grew up in a city! And no one seems to talk about making the kitchen counter yourself. So it felt great that we did! Seeing your work, having others use it is a great feeling.

    So although I don’t know if I could go live out in the country all by myself (I have thought about it), building/creating things in general keeps me pretty satisfied. Maybe you could take some time off to try living on your own if your really interested? See how you like it? Or mimic the aspects of what they are doing at home?

  4. OK, you can be jealous; I’m living your dream 🙂 Seriously, my husband and i have what I refer to as a “play farm” where we grow some of our vegs and meat. I’ve learned to really love this lifestyle. Just this morning, the sight of sheep happily munching hay was like a psalm. But there is the shadow side to this. A moderately self-sufficient life is challanging, and sometimes down right hard. Livestock tie you to home, feed is exepensive, and I hate to admit how many dying animals I’ve held in my arms, some due to my own stupidity. I couldn’t do this without a really handy husband who can DIY most things.
    Dave, you clearly sound like you’re wanting to move toward something. Have you considered using a CSA for some of your food? Or connecting with community gardeners? Even a Transition Town group might get you thinking differently about self-sufficiency. Or go “old school” and meet a farmer. Most are older, achey and would love a strong back to help out once in awhile(you could trade some labour for eggs). Just my thoughts.

  5. This is a good post and I can relate to what you’re expressing 100%. My wife and I have been having similar conversations lately about being more independent and able to provide for ourselves. I know it’s a big movement in the US, but didn’t realize Canadians had started thinking this way. Will definitely check out those other blogs.

  6. We can both relate to this post as this is how we felt this past year. It seems life is all about convenience now, we don’t spend the time to enjoy the simple things like we used to when we were young. We didn’t have the technology that kept us indoors, we grew a garden, we spent time fixing things around the house etc.

    Mrs.CBB and I had a conversation the other day about how many people on our street hire people to mow their lawn. Bloody hell, takes me a whole 5-10 minutes yet we have handed our life on a silver platter to others for no apparent reason.Are we really getting that lazy but loads of people are jumping on the band wagon. Heck if I had time I’d grab me mower and a strimmer I’d be on it as well.

    This year we have challenged ourselves to do more for ourselves like gardening, and cooking from scratch, getting back to basics. We don’t live in the country but we can make the best of what we have. Last week we made apple jam from fruit off of our trees. When you do something yourself it’s a good feeling knowing it was done from your own hands. That’s what people may begin to miss if they slide deeper into the pay for it all game. We follow Lil’ Suburban Homestead and karen who blogs here has shown us what life can be like with a bit of elbow grease. They have kids and work as well. It’s all about choice and how we want to live our lives I guess. Some people don’t mind staying attached.

  7. I can sympathize with your feelings. We often feel the same way. For us, getting our gardens started and growing has really helped. Brian didn’t think he’d enjoy it at first actually, but now, we both look forward to working on the garden every week. Perhaps something as simple as a garden would help you feel more connected?

    At the same time, I think it’s important to value the conveniences we have. Without them, we would not even be able to consider things like early retirement – we would be working simply to live and doing it until we could not work any more.

  8. @ Sheryl: I grew up in a similar kind of home – there weren’t very many things my father couldn’t fix, or build. This “doing” attitude didn’t really rub off on me until I got my own place and started looking around at all the stuff that I could do.

    I share your attitute on self-sufficency – I really don’t expect people to do things for me.

    @ Christine – Congratulations on your kitchen project, it sounds like it turned out well. I think my wife likes the idea of living out in the country, I’m not sure how she would actually do there long-term. I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, so I’m used to the limitations (and benefits) of this kind of property.

    @ M – I am jealous. I grew up on a beef farm and was involved in raising cattle (we had 30 cows and about 200 acres of land). I get the “tying down” aspect of the farming lifestyle, which is something that my wife and I would have to reconcile.

    I currently buy my beef and pork and eggs (upwards of 6 dozen a week) from local farms where I can go and tour and see where they are raised and what they eat. In the summer we get a lot of our produce locally, and have thought about joining a CSA but are gone too often right now to make it worthwhile.

    @ Canadianbudgetbinder: While I appreciate the convenience, I don’t think that this is how I’m wired. I don’t seek out difficulty, I just don’t get satisfaction from it. I think this is why I like to cook things from scratch, or build stuff around the house. We are one of the people who get our lawn mowed, but that is mainly because we live in a condo townhouse complex, and we really don’t have a lot of lawn to mow anyways (it’s all shared).

    I will check out the blogs you mentioned, thank you for forwarding them.

    @ CF – to a certain extent, the conveniences are the reason we have to work 40+ hours a week though. Get rid of some of those and we may be able to cut back on the amount of work we need to do.

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