Friday, July 26, 2013

Growing Pains

This blog is founded on an idea of 'self-sufficiency'.  Generally, I have focussed on emotional self-sufficiency (and the illusions I have of this being something attainable), but I also meant it quite literally - as in, growing-ones-own-food.  For environmental, lifestyle, and something akin to 'spiritual' reasons, hubby and I have always planned that someday we will be semi self-sufficient.

I come here today to announce to you all - this will not be taking place.  As you will learn, the dream is over and reality is being accepted.  To follow is a full history of how this has occurred.

It all began, I suppose, with The Good Life.

Husband and I grew up with re-runs of the quaint 1970s fantasy, then returned to it together whilst in the initial throws of 'in-love'.  It subsequently became part of what I term 'the mythology' of our romance.  I believe a relationship has two dimensions - the reality, and the mythology.  The reality includes the day-to-day living and loving; the life we make together, the things we say and do that build up to form the nature of our lived love-affair over the years.  The mythology is like the founding myth of any religion - it is the great story of why, the crucial circumstances surrounding how it all came about.  Ours includes the sleepless nights of obsessive conversation, the alliterative text messages, the poem I wrote on our 'Autumnal Romance' (so much deeper and more perfect than the common-place Spring setting), the books and jokes we shared (with the one person who finally TRULY understood them)... and, The Good Life.

Yes, we like to believe we ARE the Goods.  After all, we, like them, are a damn-cute couple, who love and tease each other in the most gorgeous ways possible.  Most importantly, we, like them, are hyper-idealistic, ranty, political semi-hippies.  What could be more perfect than to embrace our love for one another - and our love for the planet - by living the ultimate down-to-earth lifestyle?  I, like Tom Good, have never been a great fan of the 'day job'.  And who could not agree that it is a ridiculous system to spend most of my waking hours working to pay for life's necessities, when all I really want to do is potter around at home - where I could be directly creating those life necessities for myself.

We were realistic.  Unlike the Goods, we do not yet own a house; and, unlike the Goods, we will have children to keep.  We are also both of us blessed-and-cursed with the incurable 'travel bug', and must be able to afford the occasional flight to somewhere entirely foreign.  Oh, and, yes, we also like to entertain, and have been in the habit of merrily whipping out the credit card in the name of good times with friends.  But aside from these minor details (the cracks are already showing, aren't they?) we were ready to forgo some luxuries and make a plan that worked for us.  Husband would continue in his career - which, unlike Tom Good, he is actually passionate about - and once we could afford it, I would justify and pay for my indefinite absence from paid employment by growing the majority of our food.

Dear reader, we are just about in that required affordability position.  There is really no reason we can't pay for a house, and future-children's needs (and perhaps even those flights and parties) on husband's salary.  Therefore, there is no further reason we can't take up the plan... well... NOW.

No reason except, of course, the fatal flaw in the plan - that I have absolutely no talent for growing things!

Despite all my fond fantasies of myself as a natural, nurturing earth-mother, instinctively in-tune with the web-of-life of which we are all a part, I am in reality a black-thumb.  Despite my shelves of beautiful books and magazines on all things gardening and all my attempts at research and a scientific understanding, I have not learnt anything of use.  I am simply not meant to grow things.

On my facebook page are arty photographs of my few successes.  But what are not included are the failures - and they hugely outnumber the wins.  I show the few green, sprouting seedlings, not the numerous sowings that never make it that far; I show the pretty new buds, not the dying flowers that never bear fruit; I show the vibrant new trees we have proudly selected, not the dry, sad twigs they become.

And now at last I have come to accept the truth for myself - were we to put our plan into action, we would starve to death.

Self-sufficiency of the type I imagined is not in my future.  While I will still attempt to keep a garden of some description, it will be purely decorative and never truly functional.  And I am having to take on board the inevitable side-effect - my life of continued wage-slavery.  Frighteningly, I am now able to write this piece and accept these truths because I am actually beginning to be okay with this.  Grubby notions of 'ambition', 'fulfillment at work' and 'career' are becoming less poisonous and indeed increasingly attractive to me.  I am even starting to enjoy it.

Am I entirely lost, or is this transformation simply realistic?  Perhaps the one thing I am adept at growing is my own mental development.