When I was a young boy, living in South-Western Ontario Canada, one pastime that gave me a feeling of great contentment was laying alone in the grass of my parent’s back-yard during humid summer days, looking up at the leaves of a poplar tree there, as they applauded passing cloud formations in the sky or the songs of hiding cicadas.
My parents often spoke of “buying a house in the country” and many a Sunday drive took my family and I out into the back-roads of Waterloo-Wellington county, hunting for that “perfect” piece of land to settle on. We’d pass Old Order Mennonites in their horse drawn buggies and I’d admire their convictions – imagining how wonderful it would be to awaken each day and go to bed each night in such scenic and serene environments as they’d chosen for their farms.
As a child, it was also a blessing to have my great grandparents in my life ~ an elderly Scottish couple in their early nineties, still actively running a one hundred acre farm an hour’s drive away from our city home. We’d visit their land during summer holidays – play in the hay, explore their barn, walk between rows of raspberry plants and experience a perspective of life that further watered dreams deep within me of living close to nature.
My parents never found that land they so often spoke of, but as a teen, budding with independence and adventure, I embraced the freedom of biking or driving beyond the suburbs where I lived to forests and fields where I would nap, hike, write and advance my own plans for rural living. Further influenced by the writings of Henry David Thoreau as well as the Qur’an’s overall philosophical approach to living in “balance”, and inspired by frequent visits to farms (worked by the relatives of a dear friend) I made a decision at the age of twenty-one to begin defining a direction for myself that I hoped would help me achieve the dream of living a balanced life in a natural environment. W.B. Yeats had poetically summed up my plan a century earlier, when he wrote:
“I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.”
It was my intention to spend nine years working and saving ~ trying to secure some form of simple but consistent passive income while also educating myself at being as self-subsisting as possible, so, by the age of thirty I could settle in a rural or semi-rural location and attempt to live without debt and with as little dependency on others as possible. Grow food, farm bees, build things I need, fix things I break, read, write, reflect, reduce, reuse and recycle to the fullest! The ultimate goal: live to work at maintaining a life of balance to the best of my personal ability. …Balances between work and rest, social contribution and independent personal growth, needs and wants…balances that we often deny ourselves or are oblivious to because of social conditioning or economical traps that snap closed on us.
There were a few twists and turns along my journey that delayed me somewhat. Some (like marriage, fatherhood, travel or research) were well worth the “delays” they caused…. while some took me completely off track ~ miring me in meaninglessness where I wasted years of my time spinning my wheels ~ thinking I was moving forward when, in fact, I was just sinking in the expectations of others or illusions of my self-righteousness.
Recently I entered my thirty-ninth summer and I am pleased to share that, although I am nine years late, I have reached the phase in my plan that I set out toward when I was a younger man of twenty-one.
Within this new blog I will share my ongoing thoughts, experiences, successes and failures at continuing to seek a life of balance. I will write about my ongoing efforts to simplify how I live and share with you how my experiences effect my view of the world and my ongoing expressions as a writer, musician and artist.
I welcome you to follow a poet, as he follows goats and sips simplicitea.
– dawud wharnsby