Dreams are an integral part of trying to
create a new way of life, but to turn those dreams into reality takes time, energy, money,
skills and the right attitudes. First Id like to look at some of the mistakes we and
other back-to-the-land people have made and then highlight just a few of the many
practical skills and attitudes that can help us on our way.
"The first thing I want in the forest is a lawn."
When I looked at the woman in amazement she added, "Doesnt everyone?" I
wondered if she realized the enormous amount of work it would take to make a lawn with no
topsoil or ready supply of water. She had the suburbia complex. She had come out to the
woods, but she had brought town with her, and we all do it to one degree or another, often
without realizing it. The old habits are hard to break, but break them we must if we are
going to survive and thrive in our new setting.
Its natural to make mistakes when we are experimenting
with a new lifestyle, but if we make too many they spell failure. Here, then, is a short
catalogue of some of the most common errors.
Money is the first problem. Its easy to imagine that
creating a simple lifestyle wont take much, but it does. We need land, building
materials, tools, a truck, and so forth, and despite the fact that we are trying to create
an alternative, we are part of the whole economic system in this country. Nobody sets a
special price for us at the lumber yard or the grocery store because we are trying to lead
a life of voluntary simplicity. And nobody is going to give us a piece of land for free
even if they bought it for a song, no one has ever lived on it and they cant imagine
that anyone ever could. Its nice to dream of living off the land, just as we dreamed
of the tropical island paradise, but who wants a handful of manzanita berries and a few
cattails for dinner? So the question becomes: where is the money going to come from? The
first part of the answer is perhaps the most important. Thoreau said, "My greatest
skill is to want but little." If we buy a piece of remote land, create or salvage
part of our building materials and simplify our diet, the amount we will need will be
greatly reduced. But we still need some money. One answer is to start our own business. We
will discuss crafts in another chapter. Another solution is seasonal work. If we are lucky
enough to have a pension or some income, then it will stretch much further on the land,
particularly if we have paid for it outright and built our home. Its nice to think
that something will turn up, but we cant count on it. We have to try to arrange our
money affairs before we make the move. We can save it from a job in town or go on a
special money trip and make a herculean effort to cut down our expenses. Well be
happy for every dollar we bring to the land.
Its nice to have our own business tailored to our needs
and location, but its more complicated than we first realized. Lets take a
common example. People have come to the forest and decided that the easiest way to make a
living is to cut firewood and sell it in town. With pine selling for around $55 or $60 a
cord and a good worker able to cut and deliver two cords a day, it seems like we would
soon be on easy street. But what is the reality? First we need the equipment. A good chain
saw can easily run over $300, and then theres the question of a truck. A normal
pick-up will soon break down under the strain, so we need a larger truck. And finally we
need permission from the State or Federal forestry, and this can be more annoying than
anything else. We might know where a beautiful grove of dead trees is right down the road,
but theyll send us to the other end of the county.
Then we need the skills. Start falling trees without them and
we can end up in the hospital or worse. Even the best woodsmen have had close calls, and
they carry an array of wedges, sharpening tools, protective clothing and a backlog of
experience about how to handle various kinds of falling situations.
Finally were out in the forest, and then the work
begins. Two cords of wood makes a pile 4 feet high, 4 feet wide and 16 feet long. We have
to select quality trees, fall them, cut them to uniform lengths, haul them to our truck,
load them, and unload them at their destination. When at last the customers check is
in our hands it is money we have really earned. Then we start hoping our truck
doesnt break, our chain saw doesnt blow up and our backs dont go out.
People actually are out in the woods making money cutting firewood, but its no
Search for Land
Land is essential to the dream, and sometimes our eagerness
for it clouds our judgment. First we actually have to find the piece of land. We
cant take the sellers word for it, and since many times a professional survey
would cost almost as much as the land itself, we are left finding corner stakes and laying
lines. This is a step we cant skip. Someone sidles up to us with a picture showing a
little cabin in a stand of trees. Its beautiful. Its reasonable. We cant
wait. We think, "Heres my ticket out of the rat race." Sold. Then we go to
see our little piece of paradise. Its miles from any maintained road or school bus
stop, and it has no electricity or telephone. The cabins there, all right, but it
has been flattened by the winter snows and the land is strewn with trash. Some paradise!
Dont buy what you havent seen, and spend as much time as possible on the land
before you purchase it. Learn what the local conditions are. Then when you go to buy it
make sure the seller actually owns it. Have a title search made. Its relatively
inexpensive. Or learn how to do it yourself.
For most of us with our town eyes land is simply land. We
dont look at it like the farmer, forester or rancher. We simply havent been
trained to see it like it really is. We see the dream instead. We want a garden, but just
throwing seeds in the poor ground isnt going to give us one. Lack of soil and water,
temperature swings, summer frosts and wild creatures all conspire against us. Or we want
to raise animals because it is part of our image of what a homestead is like. But we
neglect the basic fact that animals need to eat and drink, and only certain kinds of land
can be turned into pasture. We may cut down our trees, but the result, instead of a grassy
meadow, resembles a desert. Getting a few eggs or some goats milk quickly becomes an
expensive proposition. We have to look at our land carefully. If it were great for growing
crops or raising cattle, somebody probably would have tried it there before. We have to
balance the physical problems of the land against its lower price and the freedom that a
remote piece of land gives us. If at all possible, buy the land outright. It gives you
security in those times of erratic employment and income.
Building a house can be one of our most memorable
experiences, or it can turn into a nightmare. We have to tailor the building to our
location, our aspirations, our energy and our pocketbook. We cant transplant a
suburban tract home where it doesnt belong. You dont have to be a genius to
build your own home, but at the same time any mistakes you make you end up living with.
Its nice to economize on building materials, but not at the price of a roof that
sags under the first big snow, or leaks. And its no fun to wake up in the morning
and find that our water buckets have frozen inside our house. We need insulation,
and unless we are very clever, that means commercial insulating materials which are
expensive. This is no place to skimp. If we spend a winter in a poorly sealed and
insulated building we will wear a path from the woodshed to the stove as we consume 10 or
more cords of wood and still feel chilled from the drafts. And its work to get all
that wood. If we throw up our houses without proper foundations or undersized beams, they
are going to start coming down quicker than we realize. Better a smaller building than a
big windy barn. Its possible to salvage materials, but its grueling work to
take apart some stud wall shack and try to reuse it, and if we dont know what
were doing it can end up looking like just another shack. We can use what local
materials there are, but even here there is no magic. If we have the timber we can use it
whole in the form of poles and beams, but they are heavy and hard to work with. We can cut
our own lumber using either a chain saw mill or a portable saw mill, but the first is a
chore if we are after simple boards, and the second is expensive. Often we can do as well
by talking to a local mill owner and seeing what he has available.
House building is hard physical work. Many of us are not
accustomed to it, so it creates stresses and strains on the psyche. Were tired, we
need to make important decisions, were anxious about how its all going to turn
out, we begin to think that the work will never be done, and we end up taking it out on
each other. Expect these kinds of problems and set up a way of taking breaks and dealing
with them as they appear. Better that we fail to meet the building schedule than end up
with a divorce.
Everyone wants plenty of water. Thats part of the
dream, as well. But its better to create our own alternatives than go broke trying
to have a well put in or wear ourselves down hauling enormous amounts in from town.
Its possible to have whatever conveniences we want in the forest. Take hot showers,
for example. People say, "I wouldnt mind living out back, but I need my hot
shower." Well, we can have all the hot showers we want out here. In the summer there
are solar showers. In the winter there are wood-fired hot-water systems. Build a sauna or
have a hot tub, but fit it into the setting you are living in. Dont try to duplicate
the systems that exist in town.
If we dont want propane lights we can have electric
ones. But instead of 120 VAC from overworked generators, lets try making a 12-volt
DC system. Rather than bulbs, we can use fluorescent lights that take a lot less current,
and develop an inexpensive charging system, whether by sun, wind, or a small charger built
out of a gas motor and a car alternator. Theres no need to settle for kerosene
lanterns, still less candles, unless we happen to like the feeling they give us.
We have to adjust to no mail deliveries or telephone. Most
things will wait until we get to the mail box, and there are always phones in town we can
use. We can set up emergency procedures so that if something urgent comes up a friend will
bring or CB in a message to us.
If theres no place to economize on insulation, we
shouldnt try to get by with a bad wood stove. Lets buy a good one or make one
for virtually nothing, for who wants to put up with a stove that can barely hold a fire,
pours smoke into the room, or molders along without ever really burning right? A wood
stove is a vital tool, and along with it we need good firewood. Theres a lot of talk
about the virtues of various kinds of firewood, but often there is no choice. We use what
is available, but the trick is to have enough of it and keep it dry. Every winter we see
tracks in the lower reaches of the forest where somebody has been roaming around looking
for a snag. Its exhausting work to try to cut and haul wood through deep snow, and
its completely frustrating to have a big pile of wood in our yard thats
sopping wet and barely burns. Dry, seasoned wood is true wealth we cant be without.
"What do you eat all winter, rice and beans?" There
are two very different ways to eat rice and beans. One is with the feeling that we are up
against hard times, dont really have the money for a proper diet, and have to make
due until things get better. The other is to make those beans soybeans, create a tasty
celestial "chicken", put it together with brown rice, add a salad of sprouts and
grated carrot, and have a feast that cant be beat no matter how much we pay for it.
"Give me a 4-wheel-drive and I can go anywhere."
Well, thats simply not true. And bad roads are not something to fight any more than
we have to. One of the biggest habits we bring with us from town is constantly jumping in
the car and doing a little errand. We need a quart of milk, a can of tomato sauce, or
whatever, and off we go. That habit simply doesnt fit our new surroundings. We have
to get into bulk buying, consolidating shopping trips and eliminating the unessential
little frills. Even trips of necessity to a job or the school bus stop become a real
ordeal, especially in the winter. When we have to spend hours every day getting the kids
to school, home school looks better and better. If we take those same hours teaching our
children, our children, our car, our budget and we might be a lot happier.
"Hows the hunting up there?" This frequent
question implies that we should know, for we are in a great position to do a lot of
hunting. And we are, but we dont hunt at all. There is an important difference
between enjoying the forest and its animals and trying to use them. Its hard to
explain the joy we get from a glimpse of a deer bounding through the brush or a rabbit
hopping up our path. Hunting season is not our favorite time of year. Were afraid to
go walking in the woods and afraid, too, that some of our animal friends will never come
back to visit us. These days its rare to find someone who has to hunt in order to
eat. Once you consider all the expenses of a hunting trip, deer meat is about the most
expensive meat you can get. Some of the best hunters I know, old-timers who shot more
animals than they can count when it was a matter of putting food on the table, no longer
hunt at all, or simply stroll through the woods for old-times sake. Somehow they
know that times have changed, which is a fact that escapes too many people cruising around
in fancy 4-wheel drives, living in motels and spending a small fortune to kill an animal.
Hunting has become a business and is no longer an integral part of life. Modern hunting
just illustrates how separate and antagonistic we have become to nature when the only way
we can relate to it is by killing it.
Our attitude towards trees is really no better. We want to
use them, and get what we can from the land with rarely a thought of what we can give.
People have a piece of land to sell and they want to log it first, or they buy a piece
and, again, one of their first thoughts is how much money they can get by selling the
trees. Sometimes this is a sad economic necessity that stems from being enmeshed in an
inordinate economic system. But once the trees are cut, theyre gone, and that piece
of forest will never be the same in our lifetime. They call the ponderosa pine, yellow
pine, but its getting harder and harder to see where the name came from, for
its only the big, mature trees that take on a rich reddish-gold color. The forest is
used and abused a lot more than it is enjoyed. There are pieces of forest land that look
like Berlin at the end of the Second World War. They have simply been destroyed by
uncaring logging contractors who are cutting the trees of absentee owners. Even the State
and Federal Forestry are under all sorts of economic pressure to produce revenue. Thus,
they think of taking more rather than replanting. Beautiful old-growth timber is simply so
many dollars per board foot, and so the whole character of the forest changes. On the
other hand, there are responsible loggers and land owners who harvest trees with a minimum
of damage and actually create a better environment for new growth. It can be done. A lot
of old-timers in the woods know how to do it, but its up to us as landowners to ask
for it and demand it.
"I cant stand it around here any more. I go
outside at night and all I hear in every direction are generators for my neighbors
color TVs." Why be in the forest if our minds are plugged in to town? It really
doesnt make a lot of sense. Its a roadblock on the way to the mental
transformations which are the real gifts of simple living. Im half afraid that some
day we will be traveling up in the hills of Baja California and come upon a little rancho
with its palm-thatched hut, and sitting right out in front of it will be a satellite dish.
We need to give ourselves a chance to discover our own interior resources in the slow
rhythms of nature around us.
There are many kinds of home school. Once we met a lady who
was living in a tent while her husband looked for work. She was unsatisfied with the local
schools and she taught her son six hours a day scrupulously following a correspondence
course. There is home school which is simply regular school held in the home, and then
there is the free-floating variety. There are home schoolers who are heavily into
alternative lifestyles, and others who are religious fundamentalists. Therefore, if we are
going to seriously consider home school, we will have to grope our way towards the style
that best fits our need and those of our children. Naturally, I prefer a free and more
organic approach, but others are more comfortable with a set curriculum. But we cant
repeat the mistakes of the school system and make home school into an ordeal for our
children. Whats the point of having our children in a beautiful environment if they
have to sit at a desk all day?
At first glance most of the problems that homesteaders face
seem to center around economics. A family buys a place, then they cant find work and
they leave. Another family builds a home but discovers that the conveniences they are used
to simply arent available. They eat dust. The bugs bite. They haul water, and they
leave. A third family sets up a place, conquers many of the problems, and then succumbs to
boredom. They have no answer to the perennial question, "What do you do in the woods
all day?" What do you do? Why are we here? This is a question that is even more
important than economics, itself. We need not only freedom from the problems that beset us
in the life we lived before, but more importantly, we need freedom for something more.
Buying our land and building our home is only the beginning. The only way we are going to
truly break the suburbia complex is by having something better to put in its place. We can
gather resources and learn skills, but the hardest job is to change ourselves.
CHAPTER 14: TOFU AND
I make tofu once a week, and the result of
half an hour of work is four tofu meals and at least as many of tempeh made from the soy
I soak 5 cups of dry soybeans in 10 cups of water overnight.
The next day I drain the beans and heat up about 15 cups of water. I take a large pot, put
a colander on top and place a large piece of nylon tricot cloth over it. I also need a
bowl for the soy pulp, a blender and I am ready to go.
To begin the process I put 2 cups of soaked soybeans and 2
cups of hot water in the blender, and run the machine for about a minute until I get a
thick slurry. I pour the mixture into the waiting cloth, gather the four corners, twist
the cloth so that it is closed, and press down on the cloth until all the soy milk has
been expressed. I flip out the ball of soy pulp into the bowl, and then repeat the
blending and squeezing until all the beans have been processed.
To make the tofu from the soy milk I heat it up until it
reaches the boiling point and actually begins to rise. I turn off the heat immediately
because soy milk boils over as easily as regular milk does. In order to turn soy milk into
tofu I have to add a solidifier. While the soy milk was heating up I heated 2 cups of
water with 3 tablespoons of Epsom salts (some people use less) and brought the mixture to
a boil. Other solidifiers can be used, such as vinegar, lemon juice, etc. I personally
prefer Epsom salts because I like the resulting texture of the tofu, but you might
experiment with the others to see which one you prefer.
When the soy milk has reached the boiling point I pour one
third of my water Epsom salts mixture into the milk, give a couple of good stirs and then
gently pour the second third on the top. I cover the pot, wait 6 minutes, take the cover
off, add the last third and gently stir the top inch of the milk with a wooden spoon for
20 seconds. I cover the pot again, wait 3 minutes, and once more stir the top of the milk,
this time for 30 seconds. At this point I should see clear yellow water around the edges
of the white soybean curd. If I dont, then I either reheat the soy milk or add more
water-solidifier mixture, or both.
When the tofu has been solidified it is time to drain it. I
have the nylon tricot, clean side up, waiting in the colander which is in a bowl. I pour
the tofu into the cloth carefully so that I dont break up the curds. I take each of
the four corners, raise the cloth up, and tie it to a rope I have hanging from the
ceiling. I either let it drain for a few hours, or if I am in a hurry I twist the cloth
closed and push on it with a jar, or whatever I have handy, to hasten the draining
process. When I am done the result is a firm, white cake of soybean curd. I put it in a
container, cover it with cold water, and store it in a cool place until I need it. Change
the water every day, and it can last several days.
Celestial Chicken. I use a portion of the tofu cake, cut it
into cubes, add an egg to it and mix well, and then add flour to it to bread it. I fry it
in oil until it is golden brown on one side, then I flip and brown the other side. I drain
the cooked tofu on a piece of paper towel and serve with brown rice, gravy and a salad.
Tofu "Fish." I use the celestial chicken tofu and
serve with tartar sauce.
Sweet and Sour Tofu. I cook the tofu as in celestial chicken,
make a sweet and sour sauce, serve with rice and pour the sauce over the tofu.
Another way to make fried tofu is to cut it in slabs,
marinate in a bowl with soy sauce and garlic powder, and fry. Tofu can be used in Italian
dishes, or cooked with curry, etc. It is rather bland in taste by itself, and takes
readily to your favorite flavorings.
Tempeh originated in Indonesia. It can be made from split soy
beans or other grains. I like to use the soy pulp that is left once the soy milk has been
expressed. I put 5 or 6 tablespoons of vinegar on the soy pulp plus some tempeh starter. I
mix it together well. I put plastic wrap on top of three cookie sheets, spread the soy
pulp evenly in them, no more than ½ inch thick, and then cover them tightly with aluminum
foil that has been pricked with a fork every couple of inches. I put them in a warm place,
and wait until the incubation period is done. It usually takes 2 or 3 days, but if the
weather is particularly warm it might take only a day or a day and a half. If the
inoculated soy pulp keeps its whitish color, it is not done yet. If it gets very black and
you can smell ammonia it is overdone and probably shouldnt be eaten. It is perfect
when a uniform dark gray covers it, binds it together and it smells fresh. Because we
usually eat our tofu meals first I have gotten into the habit of cutting the tempeh into
large squares and drying them on a rack. Once they are dry they last indefinitely. If I
want to use my own tempeh starter, I crumble up some of my dried tempeh pieces and
sprinkle them on top of the soy pulp. We have had no problem doing this, but the chance of
getting a bad batch is probably higher than using fresh starter each time. I store the
dried tempeh in zip-lock plastic bags until I am ready to use them. To reconstitute them I
put about a cup of tempeh into a frying pan, add 2 cups of water, let the water boil away,
add oil and fry the tempeh until it is crisp. If I use fresh tempeh I put it in a
colander, place it over a pot with some water in it and let it steam for about 20 minutes.
Then I fry the tempeh in oil.
Spaghetti Tempeh. Our favorite tempeh meal is with spaghetti.
I fry the tempeh as described above, sprinkle it on top of cooked spaghetti, and cover it
all with spaghetti sauce. Delicious.
Tempeh Tacos. Another favorite meal is tacos. I fry the
tempeh, and as soon as it is crisp I add a cup of tomato sauce, season with garlic powder,
chili powder and oregano and mix well. It looks remarkably like hamburger meat. We put the
tempeh, some salad fixings, perhaps some refried beans, tomatoes and even a little grated
cheese on our tortillas and enjoy!
I am not an expert in tofu and tempeh, so I suggest that you
refer to the Resource Guide for cookbooks which will help you make both tofu and
tempeh and create your own favorites. Its a lot easier than it sounds once you get
the rhythm of it, and your reward is nutritious, delicious and super inexpensive
CHAPTER 15: CRAFTS:
RIGHT LIVELIHOOD IN A WHACKY WORLD
Arts and crafts are one of the small
businesses that many of us think of first. Most of us have hobbies or interests we have
never fully explored, and its natural to wonder what it would be like to say good-by to
the job and earn a living doing something we enjoy. But the road to becoming a
professional craftsman or artist, which means someone who practices their craft full-time
and makes money enough so they dont starve, is again filled with obstacles. At every
craft show large and small you can usually spot some newcomers. They have that eager look
of anticipation on their faces, they have worked hard, made what are often attractive
items, and finally they steel themselves to go out there and put them up for sale. It
would be nice to say that hard work and good products are enough, but they arent.
At one show, for example, a young couple appeared with a new
baby and they were selling beautiful cribs and playpens. As the weekend went by their
faces lost their glow after selling virtually nothing. At another show a school teacher in
her 30s set up a booth of paintings. She had been working on them for years, and deep down
she hoped this would be a way to a richer and more exciting life. It was a good show. The
craftspeople around her were filling their wallets, but she went through the entire three
days without a sale.
What was happening? There is simply more to success than
making a good effort and turning out a reasonably proficient product. We have to choose
the right craft, produce it at the right price, and sell it to the right audience.
The Right Product
For a long time we made candles and sold them at a craft
co-op, and we did candles because we enjoyed it. It was a good feeling pouring the hot wax
into the holes scooped out of sand, and then producing a multi-colored top for it. In the
seconds before the colors hardened it was like gazing into a magical liquid rainbow. Some
of these candles had shells and driftwood embedded in them, and we sold them little by
little through the store. One day we totaled up all the hours we had put in and all the
materials we had purchased. Our return? 57 cents an hour! Naturally candles didnt
bear thinking about when we were faced with the decision of what to do to earn a living.
Instead, we thought of the dozens of craftspeople in our co-op and made a deal with the
most successful one.
We could do this because we clearly distinguished between
craftsmen and being artists. We wanted an honest way to work with our hands, produce a
good product and get a fair return on it. If we had been doing some craft or art that was
the vehicle of our own creativity we would have faced a much more difficult problem. The
artist in this sense is following an inner flow that often does not coincide with the
market conditions. While the school teacher artist sat and watched the crowds walk by her
booth and ignore the paintings by which she tried to express her inner self, there were
other painters selling purple sunsets and cute cats that were perfect for wall decor. The
more your craft is your way of self-expression the harder its going to be to make
your way in the atmosphere of the ordinary markets. There are superb artists who are much
in demand and sell to a well-heeled audience for large prices, but thats usually not
where most of us are.
We used to say to each other, jokingly, "The only way to
survive in handcrafts is to make sure your hands never touch the product." If we
spent a lot of time designing beautiful items, we spent even more figuring out economical
and rapid ways to produce them. People like handcrafts. They are free with compliments,
but when it comes right down to writing out a check, they really want the price to be less
expensive than what they think they would have to pay in a store. The problem becomes
producing an honest piece of work with a price low enough so that people will actually buy
One day at a large summer craft show we sold our fanciest
piece, a giant carved wooden frame backed with mirror, to a young couple. Months later we
saw them again. They had taken the piece home and it had intrigued their grandfather who
said, "I can make that." And so he did, but at the end of the experience he told
them, "Youve gotten a real bargain," because it had taken him so many
hours to reproduce it. The secret of our success was in all those little discoveries that
make a job go easier. For example, no matter how intricate the design, we tried to make
the mirrors simple rectangles. Or when it came to staining the wood, instead of taking a
brush and a rag and laboriously trying to cover every contour and cutout, we simply
plunged the whole planter into a vat of stain and wiped off the excess with a squeegee.
Hardly very artistic stuff, but it saved a great deal of time.
So, finally you have a good item at a good price, and then
comes the hardest job of all selling it. There are craft shows all around the
country, and they range from a one-day fair in a Church basement to a 10-day marathon at a
big state fair. Sometimes the whole experience of doing shows seems like a long series of
problems. You worry about getting enough things made, then you load them and try to find
the distant mall or fairground where the show is being held. You worry about what space
you have been assigned by the show director, and then you set up and worry where the
customers are and whether it will rain or not, keeping everyone home. Lets imagine
it has turned out to be a good show and you are breaking down your display with a pocket
full of money. Then, in some places, you worry about getting out of there without being
It doesnt take too many times sitting behind a pillar
in a mall in Nowheresville on a Wednesday morning to realize the mall director and the
show director have a different perspective on what its all about than you do. The
mall wants as many people to come in to see the show as possible, and yet not have
anything in the show that will detract from the sales in its own shops. The show director
already has your money in his or her pocket and she is there with her show to please the
mall director. How much you might make is often no concern of theirs. The less scrupulous
kind book too many craftsmen selling the same kinds of items, and they put a show in
places it never should be. One place I was in they were actually rebuilding the mall over
our heads, and as I set up our display, showers of sparks from the welding torches
sprinkled all around me. Part of the problem is that there are so many eager craftspeople
that some of the show directors think they are the boss and try to treat the craftspeople
as if they are employees. On the other hand, there are others who make an all-out effort
to make sure the show will be as successful as possible for the participants, and this is
only good business in the long run.
Despite all the problems its still possible to make
money. Lets suppose we go to a mall show that runs 4 days and we sell $1,200 worth
of items. Does this mean we are soon to become wealthy? Lets look at this figure
more closely. There are the material expenses for producing your product, and the upkeep
of your shop or work place. Theres the show fee and the money for gas to get back
and forth and to maintain your vehicle. A reasonable figure for the net is around 50%, and
then only if youre careful. If you add 4 nights in motels plus meals in restaurants
you have taken a big chunk out of your profits.
But lets imagine you have slept in your van or camped,
and bought food in the supermarket. Youve kept your $600 intact. But that has to pay
your labor of 4 days from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. sitting and selling, but mostly sitting. You
need to be a real aficionado of malls not to get so bored you are ready to scream. Then
you need the time at home to make your wares, and add to that travel time. The total can
exceed 100 hours, and put your actual wage down around $5-$6 an hour. And thats when
you have done well on the show. If its a rainy weekend or a holiday, perhaps you
have made only $600, so your wage is closer to a dollar an hour. And what happens if you
only make $200? Marketing crafts can be so consuming that people take to the road for
weeks and months at a time. If they have a craft thats portable enough, they live in
trailers and motor homes and go from show to show. It can be fun for a while, but it can
also get very tiring, and its not really what most of us have in mind as a home
There are all kinds of audiences. You have to find the one
best suited for what you are making, or have a wide enough range of products to cover all
eventualities. At some shows we would put up a display of our mirrors and then a work
bench in front on which we carved wooden signs. We would bring stacks of blanks and sell
them for a dollar or two. This kept us busy until the crowd that was interested in more
expensive items would show up later in the day or on Sundays. At another show at a
university things were dead. The students simply had very little money to spare and most
crafts were too expensive for them. But by a lucky chance we had brought dozens and dozens
of little frames backed by tiny mirrors. They were just perfect for their new rooms in the
dorm. Some days you get the "ice cream" crowd. Theyre out for a change of
scenery and youre it, but they have no money to spend. Other days, those wonderful
and hoped for ones, a frenzy of buying seems to descend on the crowd. You barely have time
to complete one sale when another customer is trying to get your attention. Maybe
its contagious. We were once selling our favorite triple mirror and after the first
two sold we had to assemble the pieces on the workbench so that we could display it. But
people were coming and buying it virtually sight unseen even before we could put them
together. At the end of another hectic but successful show a sudden wind blew up, battered
our display and dumped several of the mirrors to the ground. As some helpful customers
prevented it from tipping over entirely, others were grabbing at the remaining planters to
buy them! Too bad all craft shows cant be like that.
Im not trying to discourage you with all these ups and
downs. There are people who are making a living selling crafts, and you can become one of
them. But just like building a homestead, it takes more than a dream.
CHAPTER 16: BACK TO
The way we view economics has a large
influence on how we shape our alternative. I confess that I find more satisfaction and
real profit in reading Thoreaus "Economy" in Walden than I ever did
studying the Federal Reserve System or how to hedge convertible securities. I dont
think we will ever solve our nations economic problems or our own until we get back
to economic basics, and that means focusing on what money and work really mean and how
they are meant to serve other values.
The classic American dream is to have a lot of money. We get
sweepstake entries in the mail or buy a lottery ticket and imagine what it would be like
for our money problems to be over once and for all. But its entirely another matter
to actually find out what happened to those lucky lottery winners or other recipients of
sudden wealth. Their stories are sobering and sometimes even depressing. They have the
money but also a lot of unwelcome, unwanted attention which can sour their relationships
with their friends, relatives and co-workers. They buy a large house, fancy furniture, a
boat, a new car, etc., but rarely does the money appear to open the way for a more
meaningful, exciting existence. Often the winners quit their jobs but dont have
anything of overriding importance to put in its place. Even though we would like to think
we would be the exception, can we be sure that it would turn out that way? Ive met a
number of people who have attained financial security. They have made good investments or
put in twenty years or so and have an excellent pension, and they have enough money to
retire at 30, 40 or 50. Im always curious to see what they will do with this golden
opportunity. Almost invariably after a period of retirement they get bored and go back and
do something like they were doing before. The pensioner gets another job. The businessman
starts making more money. Why? Simply because that is what they know how to do. Or put
another way, they dont know what else to do. So they amass more counters in a game
they have already won. No active energetic person wants to sit around even if its in
a Florida condominium or a beach house in the Bahamas. We are not prepared for free time.
A job has swallowed endless hours, and when it releases us we have no clue of how to use
this new-found freedom. And the obsession of our society with money doesnt help. It
makes it harder to do things that have no connection with money at all. We are
misunderstanding money and work and the relationship between them. And most of all we have
lost sight of the fact they are meant to serve higher values.
One way to break this impasse is to imagine what we would do
if we were suddenly rich. We should look at this fantasy with as much detail as possible.
Would I quit my job? Would I buy a fancier home, would I try another career, or travel?
Make a list of your desires in the order of their importance. Then really look at them.
Would they really change me if they came true? Would I be genuinely happier? How long
would the glow and thrill last? How many of these dreams are my own and not those of the
world around me? Many things we have longed for turn out to be the setting for life and
not the stuff of life itself.
Once you have winnowed out your list and found some real
goals worth pursuing, dont wait to be rich. Start now. Take a step even if its
only a tiny one. Travel, for example, can be a lot less expensive than we ever dreamed. A
new career can start with our own study or volunteer work. Its always easier to save
money if we have a definite concrete goal we are working towards. Dont let real
dreams get deflected.
Another way to try to break the misconception we have about
money and work is to imagine traveling back in time and seeing them as they must have
existed for our ancestors.
In the world of the hunter-gatherer there was a rough
equality. The men hunted while the women gathered and probably collected the bulk of the
food. Some people were more gifted than others, but everyone grew up knowing the basics.
They could build a shelter, make a fire, tell the edible plants from the poisonous ones,
catch a fish and so forth. They were all in contact with the earth. They all had direct
access to it and its fruits.
Trade was a secondary matter. They didnt live by it. It
was a chance to get some extras, and these extras were often non-essential. It was a
question of beads or shells or sweet-smelling resins. The economy meant simply the
household and the attempts to fill its basic needs.
As trading increased, no doubt connected with the rise of
farming that allowed men to stay in one spot and accumulate more things, money developed.
It was a way to facilitate trading by converting things into one thing that was
universally in demand and could always be traded for something else. And money had its
roots in the old days when trade was mostly ornamental. Money was shells or silver or gold
or pretty stones. They were widely desired, compact, durable and relatively easy to
transport. They were simply one of the old trade items that had risen to preeminence. I
give you some eggs for a piece of silver and you can trade it for what you want. Money
simply represented actual things, for it was something valuable itself and facilitated
But two events were to come about and radically change both
money itself and the whole idea of work. The first was the introduction of paper
certificates to represent gold or silver or whatever the real money was. This was a
convenience, but an almost irresistible temptation, as well. The banker, whether it was
the central government or a private bank, wanted to get something for nothing, and so it
started printing a few extra papers and spending them. People accepted them as real money
at first and it got away with it. But soon they caught on. Sometimes they wanted their
real money back and at other times, when they couldnt get it, they had to settle for
seeing the value of their paper money decrease, for more paper was now available to
purchase the same amount of things, so the things became higher priced or the paper was
worth less, depending on how you want to look at it.
When this process of inflation is carried to excess we get
the situation that existed in post-World War I Germany where the value of money changed
every day and you needed a suitcase to carry it to the grocery store. It is the makers of
this new non-money that benefit, for they spend it as if it were worth the same as the old
money, and it is the people on fixed incomes that suffer most, for their income falls in
terms of what it can buy.
The second big change in the economy was the fact of
specialization. Suppose one day in a moment of inspiration one of our hunter-gatherers
invents a superior fish hook that has a barb instead of being smooth. When his friends see
all the fish he is catching, they start clamoring for some of their own, and soon our
inventive friend finds himself making fish hooks instead of fishing. It is only fair that
his friends share their catch with him and there is more to share. Its progress, but
there is a danger. Lets imagine the fish hook maker passes his trade on to his son
and the son grows up making fish hooks in exchange for all his basic needs. Then the day
comes when someone down the river invents a radically new kind of hook that is much
better. Our fish hook maker has suddenly discovered something new: unemployment, for
unlike his father he cant go back to nature and the old ways, for he has lost those
In the days when money was real we could be on the lookout
for false coins and clipped edges. Now when money has lost its roots we become easy prey
to a horde of manipulators and speculators who have discovered that the easiest way to
make money is not doing something productive, like building a house with their own hands
or growing some wheat, but to manipulate money. They insert themselves between the
farmers wheat and our mouths, or the house and the person who will dwell in it. We
have become so accustomed to this we are not only not supposed to complain, but we are to
applaud and imagine they have created the wealth they gather. But they are really not
creating. Their money is coming out of all our pockets. The real estate tycoon thinks it
is a good stroke of business to buy for his own account a house that comes on the market,
spends a few hundred or thousand dollars on cosmetics, and sells it for $15,000 or $20,000
more. But that money comes out of my pocket each month for 20 or 30 years as I pay the
This brings us back to work and specialization. The further I
am removed from the Earth and the ability to satisfy my basic needs directly, the more I
can be manipulated. If my home, my food and everything else depends on my pay check I have
lost a great deal of my bargaining power right then and there. If I had a way to survive I
could simply not work for the overbearing boss, the unfair wage, in dangerous conditions,
etc., nor would I totally be in the money economy buffeted by the manipulators,
speculators and plain miscalculations of investment bankers, stock markets and commodity
gamblers, and so forth.
We have distorted the real meaning of private property. In
essence it means we all have an inalienable right to the earth and its fruits. And this is
not a right to "own" the earth but use it gently and ordinately to satisfy our
legitimate basic needs. We are born with this right as children of the earth. But we have
perverted it into a greedy capitalism or an oppressive state socialism. It is a
destructive fiction to believe we can own the earth. All over the planet we see men owning
more than they can personally work on or consume when countless others go hungry. When
private property takes this form it is a distorted quest for meaning where there is never
a point when we can say, "I have enough."
We need to work both physically and mentally. But work has
lost its moorings like money has and is distorted. We are overspecialized doing too much
of one kind and not enough of another, and we become unbalanced. A doctor becomes a worker
on an assembly line of bodies, his real identity as a healer of people becomes lost and he
succumbs to the same poor health habits as his patients. A construction worker or
businessman drives himself to the point of exhaustion while the rest of his interests
begin to die from lack of attention. We are not simply cogs in an economic engine cranking
out the gross national product. It is important for us to work in all areas of our life,
to feel our hands in the earth, the heft of a good tool as we make something, the
challenge of a fine book, and just plain time to be with the people we love, to enjoy
nature, to ponder what it is all about.
Economics will never make sense when it is left as a matter
for specialists who are supposed to be fine-tuning our money supply. Economics is rooted
in the earth and our efforts to turn its fruits into useful things. It is eating and
building a shelter and staying warm. It is a contact with the earth we cannot relegate to
others to do entirely for us. When economics is torn lose from its true setting it becomes
prey to distorted dreams of wealth and power instead of providing the simple life that
would allow us to try to be fully human.
CHAPTER 17: HEALTH OF
THE WHOLE PERSON
Simple living comes about as the result of a series of
transformations of attitudes. We change the way we think about land, houses, school, etc.,
and this process must be extended to health, itself. We have to take an active part in our
own physical well-being. We just cant leave it to the doctor. Doctors trained in the
traditional way are preoccupied with illness, but health is a state of well-being that
comes out of our whole lifestyle. Its intimately connected with the exercise we get,
the air we breathe, the amount of sleep we get, our mental attitude and especially the
kind of food we eat. If we are sick we need to treat not only our symptoms but try to
discover their root causes. Most diseases, especially the degenerative ones, dont
happen to us like an unforeseeable accident. They build up slowly as the body struggles
against a less than optimum environment both inside and outside itself.
A whole new approach to health is developing called
orthomolecular medicine by some. Orthomolecular is a word coined by Linus Pauling which
means the right molecules in the right proportions. Every cell in the body needs certain
nutrients to perform best, and the orthomolecular physician attempts to provide them,
while at the same time he struggles to eliminate the substances that are poisoning the
body. Not only do the individual cells have their own food requirements, but each of us
has our distinctive nutritional needs. We differ in our sensitivity to various common
substances. We need one kind of mineral or vitamin more than the other people in our
family. We have our unique nutritional needs and sometimes distinctive allergies to the
toxic agents that are ever more present in our environment.
The orthomolecular approach takes into account our own
biochemical individuality. We might, for example, go on a fast for 4 days to eliminate all
the foods or chemicals from our system that might have been causing allergic reactions in
us, stressing our bodies and leading to other illnesses. Then we introduce the common
things we eat and the common substances in our environment one at a time in the form of
single food meals. Since the fast has cleared the body of its addictions the reactions are
often strong and dramatic. There are documented case histories of people who have reacted
violently to common substances like wheat, chocolate, dairy products or cigarette smoke.
Once the question of allergies has been settled, then the
doctor tries to tailor an individual program of food, minerals and vitamins. But the
minerals and vitamins he views not as drugs, but as natural foods the body needs to
perform at its best. There are recommended daily amounts for most vitamins, but it can
easily happen that our own individual requirements are much higher, and we are suffering
actual disease or a lack of well-being precisely for that reason. Orthomolecular
physicians treat a wide variety of physical illnesses including hypoglycemia and diabetes,
and they also treat intractable mental illnesses like schizophrenia. They recognize that
there is a large biochemical dimension to schizophrenia, and it is often pointless to
treat it by purely psychological means. Instead, they screen for allergies, use massive
doses of the B vitamins, etc. This is an exciting medical breakthrough, but it faces real
obstacles. The traditionally trained doctor often has a skimpy knowledge of nutrition and
his hands are full keeping up with the ever growing arsenal of powerful drugs and surgical
techniques. Vitamins seem too simplistic to be worthy of serious attention.
But its not only the doctor who has this attitude. We
as his patients have it, as well. We have been conditioned to leave matters of illness in
the doctors hands and to look for the magic cure to any ills that befall us, but in
doing so we have ignored the body itself with its recuperative powers. If we have some
slight interest in vitamin therapy or other alternative medical practices we are usually
disabused of them by his attitude. "Doctor knows best" is the general impression
and we should leave matters in his hands and not interfere. Therefore, even though we are
intelligent and educated people in many fields, we abdicate our responsibility when a
serious illness comes. We dont even take the elementary precautions to check out
what kind of doctor is going to be working on us or what the rating of the hospital we are
entering is. You can be sure the doctors themselves have a very different attitude about
who will treat them or their families.
But the problem goes deeper than this. There are some things
modern medicine has a poor record dealing with, and our blind acceptance prevents us from
exploring other possibilities. Its part and parcel of us getting away from nature.
It really isnt the doctor who heals. He ought to be striving for the best conditions
for the body to heal itself. A more ecological medicine escapes us just like the ecology
of our environment did until recently. We eat too much junk food, we drink too many cups
of coffee, we smoke too many cigarettes and we tolerate a wide variety of poisons in our
environment. Then when illness touches us or one of our loved ones we are surprised and
shocked and run to the doctor for a miracle drug. But miracles simply arent
happening the same way with some of our biggest killers like heart disease or cancer. And
the orthomolecular answer is so simple that we cant believe it.
Lets take a concrete example. If we are used to doses
of vitamin C in the range of 50 to 250 mg. we will find it hard to credit the fact that we
might need considerably more, especially if our bodies are under the stress of a serious
illness. The amount necessary for our optimum functioning might be 2,500 mgs., and if we
were suffering from cancer, an acute viral infection or many other things, it might be 20
or 30 grams, that is, 20,000 to 30,000 milligrams.
Its heart-breaking to watch someone dying after
conventional medicine has exhausted its remedies and to realize they either dont
know about other approaches or cannot bring themselves to believe in their possibility.
Their minds just refuse to accept that there are other ways. I have included enough
information in the Resource Guide so you can explore for yourself the claims of
orthomolecular medicine and vitamin C and come to your own conclusions.
If we fall ill we need to mobilize all our forces.
Orthomolecular medicine is the foundation to which we can add psychological and spiritual
healing. The mind is so intimately connected to the body that it can have a powerful
effect both in our getting ill and in getting well. If we are sick the atmosphere, food
and constant interruptions of the hospital can wear us down. Our homes are often much
better places to be. And we can work within ourselves, as well, visualizing the illness to
be combated and directing our physical forces to struggle against it.
And there are spiritual things we can do, as well. We can
pray and have others pray in ways that are comforting to us. If our illness appears to be
terminal we can prepare ourselves for death, an exercise that need not be morbid but can
be liberating. We can put our affairs in order, let go of past enmities and
misunderstandings and try to be reconciled if possible to the people who have been in our
lives. We can look calmly at the beauty of our loved ones and the earth we have lived on
and let our minds and hearts raise from that beauty to the One Who gave birth to all the
things we love and in Whom we can hope to find them again in the life to come. Then we can
see death not as the destruction and negation of life, but its culmination and a new
CHAPTER 18: HUMAN
A HIDDEN DIMENSION OF LIFE AND LOVE
By now it is clear that creating a simpler
lifestyle, at least at the beginning, is a complex business! If it were a matter of
hammers and nails it would have been accomplished already. But it is really other kinds of
tools that we are lacking, the tools to transform ourselves and our way of seeing. Here is
a brief introduction to one of my favorites, a tool to help us get along better with each
other and with ourselves by understanding human differences. It is forged from the work of
C.G. Jung and William Sheldon.
Human differences play a large but virtually unnoticed role
in our daily lives. They are the secret cause of countless tensions and arguments between
husband and wife, parent and child, friends and coworkers. They effect our choice of
mates, jobs, and leisure activities. Lets explore, then, some of these differences
guided by the work of Sheldon and Jung. Our goal is the recognition that these differences
actually exist all around us and that, if we can begin to understand them, we have a
chance of becoming more understanding, tolerant and loving, both at home and in our
Though human differences exist all around us we often take
them for granted. We even have a built-in resistance to focusing on these differences for
fear that it will somehow lead to prejudice and repression. Unfortunately, not to openly
examine them, far from reducing this danger, increases it, for prejudice feeds on our lack
Imagine being on a beach or in a crowded store, or simply
sitting on a park bench watching the people go by. They are tall, thin, short,
well-padded, muscular, etc. just a few minutes of people-watching is all we need to be
convinced of the great variety of body types among us. William Sheldon, a noted American
psychologist, was not only fascinated by people watching, but it turned into a life-long
career. He initially took 4,000 photographs of men and tried to discover basic elements
that could be found in every body. He came up with three: roundness (endomorphy),
muscularity (mesomorphy), and linearity (ectomorphy). Roundness is obvious in someone like
Santa Claus, with his rounded belly and short arms and legs, muscularity is predominant in
a Mr. Universe, and linearity can be clearly seen in a tall, gangly person who seems to be
all arms and legs.
Each of us is born with all three elements, but we have a
unique combination of them. We might have a lot of roundness and little linearity, or a
lot of muscularity combined with roundness. We might be linear, but also have some
muscularity. Or many of us have all three in fairly equal degrees. What makes it even more
important to recognize these bodily differences is that they represent the outward
manifestation of inclinations for different kinds of behavior. In short, Sheldon saw a
connection between the kinds of bodies we have and the kinds of activities we enjoy doing.
Different bodies have different needs and speeds. We vary in
the amount we sleep, eat and exercise. We differ in how we tan, react to pain or sorrow,
and how susceptible we are to various diseases. Someone with a lot of endomorphy often
takes special pleasure in having company and sharing good meals with them. He or she can
tend to be sedentary, open-handed with their affections, money and sympathy. Someone, on
the other hand, in whom muscularity predominates, might love to be active, have the
inclination to plan and execute projects, dislike small places, and have trouble keeping
their competitiveness in check. The highly linear person, in contrast, can be inclined to
solitude, avoiding strangers and crowds. He or she can dislike noise and be restrained in
showing their feelings.
A word of caution is in order. These few remarks are
simplifications of Sheldons extensive descriptions of temperament which, in turn,
are simplifications of the complexities of real life. Type descriptions are pointers to
help us unravel our own experiences. They are not pigeon-holes we attempt to force people
into, but rather, descriptions of certain basic elements that we all have, each in his own
Dr. C.G. Jung
Differences of body and temperament are complemented and
completed by differences in our inner personality. We have distinctive ways of seeing and
relating to the world around us and to our own interior world. C.G. Jung started
unraveling these differences by using the words introversion and extraversion, though
common usage has often distorted the meanings he originally intended. We are all both
extraverted and introverted, but we usually favor one attitude over the other. In
extraversion our energy flows out of us and concentrates on the people and things around
us, while our introverted energy shies away from exterior realities and is directed to our
own interior world. Often misunderstandings are due to ignoring this one difference.
After long and careful consideration Jung decided that not
only were there people who were predominantly extraverted or introverted, but there
appeared to be different kinds of extraversion and introversion, as well. Thus, in
addition to the two basic attitudes, he described four functions which are the ways in
which the psyche makes contact with either the inner or outer world. These Jung called
thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition.
He paired sensation and intuition together as two opposite
ways of perceiving. Sensation is the perception of the immediate and tangible reality
around us by way of seeing, hearing, touching, etc., and as such is familiar to us.
Intuition is also a perception, but of what is in the background, i.e., hidden
possibilities and implications. It is similar to the way we understand inspirations and
hunches. We perceive something, but we are not aware of how we got to that perception.
Thinking and feeling go together as a pair of opposite ways
of making judgments. Thinking is the way of judging about the nature of things by means of
our ideas and their organization. It concerns itself with the question of truth or
falsity. It is not to be confused with intelligence. Feeling is an equivocal word in
English. It can mean instincts, emotions and hunches, as well. For Jung, its meaning is
limited to a sense of rapport or lack of it by which we decide whether we like or dislike
something, feel it is good or bad. It is not to be confused with having emotion.
Jung summarized the 4 functions like this: "Sensations
(i.e., sense perception) tells you that something exists; thinking tells you what it is;
feeling tells you whether it is agreeable or not; and intuition tells you whence it comes
and where it is going."
These four functions allowed him to describe eight types,
since both extraversion and introversion could be expressed in each of these four ways. In
becomes clear, then, that the exploration of human differences will take some effort. Not
only must we master the vocabulary of the guides we use, but more important, and perhaps
even more difficult, is the interior effort by which we convert their words into actual
insights in our own life. Is it worth it? Lets look at some of the practical
benefits it could have in marriage and family life.
in Daily Life
People contemplating marriage are often attracted to someone
who is not like themselves. The quiet businessman, for example, is drawn to the outgoing
and vivacious lady. Opposites attract, as they say, and this means introverts are drawn to
extraverts, thinkers to feelers, etc., and the reason for this attraction is to be found
in the fact that though each of us possesses both introversion and extraversion, and the
four ways of perceiving and judging, if we are strong in one area, we tend to be weak in
another, and we often try to make up for this weakness by getting together with someone
who has this particular gift or talent in abundance.
There is nothing wrong with this in principle as long as we
are aware of what is happening and the fact that sharing in someone elses gift does
not relieve us of the responsibility for developing our weaker side. In fact, we have a
variety of gifts because we are meant to form one community and share them to make it
If there were not dynamic mesomorphs around, there are many
difficult and dangerous jobs that would not get accomplished. If there were no endomorphs,
an element of warmth and nurturing would vanish from life. And what is the value of the
more solitary ectomorphs? It is to be found in their dreams and far-reaching intuitions
that sometimes strike upon a new possibility that is valuable for us all.
Differences exist in every marriage, and while initially they
can form the basis for a romantic attraction, as the years go by it becomes more apparent
that the person we married is not quite like we imagined them to be. All too often our
culture, upbringing and our own mental universe have failed to educate us in the
legitimacies of these natural differences. We have certain images in our minds of what men
and women should look like and how they should act. Society is constantly exhibiting a
certain narrow range of physical types as the norm of beauty. It urges us to be outgoing
and popular, competitive and analytical, and all these qualities suit one kind of person
more than others. Not everyone is meant by nature to have the same physique or to find
socializing easy, or to be highly competitive in sports or academic subjects. If we give
in to the stereotypes of the society we live in, or of our particular inclinations, we do
injustice to ourselves and those we love. It is possible for an athletic father to have a
son who has no gift for sports. It is possible for well-educated parents who have given
their child every academic advantage to find that he or she will never be a great success
in school. The child's mind may simply work in different ways than the accepted models in
the classroom. There are different kinds of intelligence, and only a small part of them
are measured by scholastic aptitude tests and college entrance examinations.
A practical example can help us penetrate more deeply the
different perspectives involved in many ordinary family situations. Lets imagine the
father of a family who is predominantly mesomorphic and endowed with a great deal of
extraverted energy and drive. This serves him in good stead in his business life and
providing for the economic needs of his family. But this outward-directed energy is not
something that is grafted onto a psychological core so that he is only superficially
different from his wife and children. His extraversion permeates his thoughts and moods,
in fact, his whole outlook on life. His attention is focused on outer events which enables
him to be very effective in operations which require a prolonged physical and mental
effort, whether it is equipment to be built or repaired, a business deal to be closed, or
a mountain to be climbed.
What will such a dynamic and out-going person think of a wife
or son who has very little muscularity, appears hesitant to jump into the job to be done,
and is socially retiring, all of which are legitimate qualities of the introverted
ectomorph? His instinctive conclusion can be that this person is an undeveloped mesomorph
who must exercise more, become socialized, take a course in self-motivation, etc., and in
this judgment he has the force and pressure of the prevailing societal norms behind him.
But what he doesnt realize is that this other person not only possesses his
distinctive gifts, but that these gifts can be the very ones he is lacking. There are
certain deficiencies directly connected with his conscious abilities. For example, his
energetic pursuit of his career can become an obsession that ignores other important
values, such as his bodily health and the need to consider the feelings of the people
around him. It can preclude time for reflecting and dreaming and discovering the inner
subjective side that all people have. It is certainly true that his wife or child with
their own point of view can be equally prejudiced, and fail to see the positive aspects of
his gifts. When such a situation develops, family arguments tend to repeat themselves over
and over again. This is because neither participant can comprehend the possibility that
though the same words are being used, they are being filled with a very different content
which ultimately depends on these differences in outlook. This is all the more regrettable
because, in the case of our example, a wife or child who is more introverted can be
viewed, not as an undeveloped extravert, but as a potential guide to another whole world
which is being neglected, and the opposite is true, as well.
It is extremely difficult in practice to come to terms with
the fact that someone we love does not share our own inner way of seeing things. Without a
firm grasp of the legitimacy of these differences we are inclined to attribute bad motives
to them. We feel they dont want to be accommodating, or want to have their own way,
etc. The introverted child, for example, can learn to be more outgoing, but the best
atmosphere to foster this growth is a genuine acceptance of the gifts this child has, even
though they are hidden from the world.
What can be done on the practical level to become aware of
the world of human differences that we live in? First of all, we should strive to acquire
the habit of looking closely at ourselves and the people around us in order to see these
differences in action. Instead of simply reacting when they appear, we must consider the
possibility that they represent legitimate alternatives to the way we see and do things.
Secondly, we can learn more about these differences, and I have mentioned some places to
begin in the Resource Guide.