Homestead for Deep Connection, to Thrive
Homesteaders of the 1800’s largely chose to homestead as a means to survive. They claimed a privilege to have access to land to make a living. Not a living wage, but to live from the land by growing and raising their own food, building their own homes, making their own clothes, crafting their own tools. Homesteaders were subsistence farmers or gardeners by definition.
Today, you could say many of us are glam-steading in contrast. Thanks to petroleum, centralized manufacturing and efficient supply chains we don’t have to make our own tools, build our own house, or grow our food. We also have access to so many luxuries that would be unheard of in the 1800s.
Some modern homesteaders do practice subsistence homesteading to the furthest degree possible. The rest of us are living in some part of the spectrum between the convenient conventional lifestyle and subsistence homesteading.
Today we don’t have to homestead to survive. Supply chains and supermarkets have us covered for the basic food needs as well as all of our other needs from tools to clothing to medical supplies.
So why are we homesteading? Many of us choose to homestead because our heart is missing connection to the natural world, a simpler way of living, or a lifestyle that is more “real” in terms of our basic survival needs. We have become so disconnected from our basic needs through a lifestyle of convenience and consumption.
My answer to the above question is: I am homesteading to thrive. Somewhere along the line I woke up to the unfilled hole in my heart as a result of living in a culture that prioritizes convenience and profit.
Like many others before me, I discovered that I was missing deeper connections to nature, to myself and to other beings. The desire grew in me so much that I really had to acknowledge it, even before I recognized it as a desire for more connection.
So I started homesteading because I wanted more resilience and more freedom. Then over time it started becoming apparent that I was actually looking for deep connection through pursuing resilience and freedom.
This realization helped me reframe my intentions and direct my path. I learned that giving up some reason and control, while allowing to my heart to guide major life decisions, I would have a better chance to thrive on deeper levels. While my mind wanted resilience, my heart wanted deep, intimate connection to life.
As I homestead to thrive, I do enjoy more resilience and freedom as a by product. But the resilience and freedom look a bit different than what I imagined earlier.
Through homesteading I am not just becoming more resilient to supply chain issues or recessions.
My heart is more resilient to grief because it has opened to a larger world of connection.
My mind is more resilient to fear because I have experienced deeper connections that help me live more grounded.
My body is more resilient to disease because I am nourished with good food, but also because my spirit is nourishing my body when I feel more held by the earth that I walk on.
Feeling more connected gives me a greater sense of freedom because my heart has opened to a greater world outside of the “box” of straight lines, grids, money and false promises (e.g. loud, bright advertising).
Ultimately this greater sense of connection has led to a deeper self love and self nurturing.
Homesteading is not easy. Often it can be really hard, at least for those of us that challenge ourselves to keep learning new skills, growing more food, taking on different kinds of projects and becoming more adept.
I’ll admit that my homesteading life is not as physically demanding as the life of homesteaders in the the 1800’s. But they had their path laid out clearly—work hard to survive while exercising a freedom and privilege to do so.
We moderns don’t have to worry about our survival and most of us grew up not realizing we were missing a greater world of connection. While we have it physically easier, our path is not seemingly as clear, because we first need to wake up, and then search for what we feel we are missing.
I feel so lucky because I can appreciate that many elders, living and departed, have walked this path before us. They left many clues and maps for us to follow in their footsteps as they themselves sought deeper connection.
I am aiming to achieve more subsistence in my gardens so that our family can rely less on supply chains and industrial food. I am aiming for more resilience in my lifestyle choices. Even though I don’t need to live this way to survive, these decisions seem important in facing an uncertain future with regards to climate uncertainty, monetary inflation, supply chain shocks, politics, etc.
And yet learning how to thrive as a whole human and opening my heart to deeper connections has become so important. I’ve opened a door that I cannot close. As an adult in his 40’s I have the sensation that I am learning to walk all over again. I am learning how to live all over again.
Now I have come full circle to embracing my modern lifestyle and conveniences. I thought I had to give so much of it up to be a proper homesteader. That is so much easier said than done and I honor and respect those that take it to the extreme in terms of subsistence or independence.
As I gain more natural heart based connection I crave less empty consumption, but still I cannot escape that I am a consuming human.
As I eat more nourishing food I crave less industrial food, yet I am so grateful for industrially farmed and manufactured food, as well as supply chains that help feed my family, my neighbors, my fellow humans and our furry domestic friends.
I am so grateful that I do not know first hand what famine looks like because we have easy access to industrial food. I am grateful I do not have to wash my clothes by hand or wake up to icicles hanging above me in the winter mornings because our house is insulated and our wood stove is efficient. I love having running water and refrigeration.
As much as our indulgence in them has caused problems for us, I love using fossil fuel, electricity and the internet.
How can I deny who I am as a modern human? And yet as a natural being, I need deeper connections.
In my humble opinion, this is both a dilemma and a joy of living as a modern homesteader—I continually ask the question: How can I thrive as a whole human being?
2 responses to “Homestead for Deep Connection, to Thrive”
Great post. I hope many people appreciate your journey.