There are two kinds of self-sustaining people in this world. Some people grow up in the big city, and by the age of forty, they are sick of smog and traffic. So they sell everything, buy ten acres out in the country, put a fence around their yard, build a house exactly in the center, and start a vineyard or raise a few llamas, only to be seen in the local grocery store once a month. I am not this way. I understand why these people do what they do, though, and I applaud them.
Most self-supporting people come from hard times. We could have grown up anywhere, but somewhere in our lives, we have had to get by on little or nothing. Instilled within us is a conservative yet creative mentality combined with a “git ‘er done” attitude. Below you will find five traits common among those of us who would prefer to live a simpler life.
1. The habit of taking what you have and making it what you want. At age ten, I was fascinated with gas engines and go-carts. My buddy “Fatty” had an old go-cart frame that was missing an engine, steering wheel, and gas pedal. I had a push mower that I ran the wheels off mowing yards. I drug the mower to Fatty’s house, and we went to work. Soon we had a running go-cart with a lawn mower throttle for a gas pedal and a mower blade for a steering wheel.
2. The habit of spending hours fixing something that cost $10 new. My wife is an engineer. She also was raised in a big family, having to make do with what she had. That trait never left her. I watched in awe one night as she completely disassembled and re-assembled our twenty-year-old toaster. It had nothing to do with the cost of a new toaster; it was like a puzzle to her, and she would never throw away something that could be fixed.
3. The habit of “repurposing” things. As I look out across the back yard, I see a swing set, two trellises, three raised garden beds, and a half dozen flower boxes that used to be our front porch. Need I say more?
4. The habit of saving things. My wife saves every yogurt cup, coffee can, and milk jug she ever bought. I use some of them for gardening, but most will never see the light of day. When she asks if I need more, I always say “yes.” I don’t have the heart to tell her that even a big-city greenhouse couldn’t use all the crap she saves.
5. The habit of owning transportation that belongs in a museum. To date, I own a 1951 flat boat, a 1969 Opal GT, a 1973 pleasure boat, and our “good” car, a 1998 Buick. All have been completely rebuilt, and I have torn each one apart so many times I could be a certified technician on these specific modes of transportation.
By now, the only readers I have left are giving me a cyber “high five,” agreeing with every word I wrote. To those people, I say carry on and good luck. We’ll see you after the apocalypse, I’m sure. Have a great day, folks– we’ll see you next week!