December 20, 2012

Off the Grid

In honor of the light of solstice and Mayan calendar of endings and beginnings, this is me coming clean about something I was thinking about today...even though it is probably oversharing. 
I have just today realized that I have not always helped the men in my life be the best they could be. I let them slide. Young girl/woman me, as a counter-culture anti-patriarchal hippie, did not demand/insist/encourage that my man bring in a decent wage to support us. I allowed exclusion from the "mainstream" of "working for the man" or any regular working they did not really like. Thus we suffered from lack of income, but with a back-to-the-land lifestyle - living off the grid but not feeling it was a sacrifice, actually preferring it and gaining valuable life skills and experience few people have these days. Close to nature, wood-heat, no electricity, cabins that were cold, often hauling water and more. Hand sewing. Foraging. Little or no transportation. Campfires with singing and food with friends. Tribal dancing and open natures, braids and ethnic fabrics or no clothes at all. But, the guy/s were given too much leeway - I was too "compassionate" when I should of encouraged a way to keep us with some money. I let the philosophy of the time and lifestyle allow me to expect little from them other than freedom from conformity. We were forging a different path. I am not knocking the lifestyle or memories in any way, I am only chastising myself for expecting so little from the man. I think it would of been better for them in the long run to work more to gain some financial integrity for our little clans. I don't mean just the work it took for daily survival. 
I was pregnant and barefoot but I cannot use that as an excuse for not doing it myself. 
It was a really hard life when I look back on the days. We thought we knew so much, aye. Walking in the dark along paths lit only by the moon, coming home to light the fire with gathered wood, cooking on wood stoves, fetching water from creeks, washing cloth diapers by hand. Romantic notions and youthful vigor helped shield me from the the harder realities. This was in the late 1970's and early 80's, before we had such universal access to computers, etc. Now, if I was in that situation, I could at least earn some money from a variety of online ventures. We always made things - our family/clan was especially gifted with talented leather workers and crafters. I sewed and made all the kids' clothes and my own too, beautiful hippie dresses from bits and pieces. We made mocassins and intricate beaded items. We were so ephemeral. We were stardust, we were golden, we were getting back to the garden.
One thing is certain, I have the skills to survive off the grid if needed. I do not take luxuries like water and electricity for granted.
 But, I did not help the men, my lovely, gentle, imaginative and creative men, accept their full responsibilities and the lessons that brings, by my agreeing to live without simple basics for so long. (They too, being mid-century dreamers, straddled the old and new, often belonging not quite to either time.) It is the double-edged sword of hindsight, but with no regrets. I would hope that young women will not be reluctant to have their men do the right and sometimes hard things needed to keep families afloat, and don't let responsibility or burden be passed on. I have been careful about raising my sons to be strong and reliable men and my daughters to have a care for their own worth. I think a woman's right attitude and encouragement can go a long way in making the world a better place and help people step up to the plate. 
There are more of us speaking about the wild bohemian days of the 70's now, more stories being told. I have only begun to tell mine.


nyssa said...

Wow. I really got this. I've been there too. you have amazing insight.

Vickie said...

thanks Nyssa, I consider myself perceptive but it is often years later, LOL

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