Further Thoughts on Swimming Vs. Drowning

By , July 11, 2010

When I posted about being thrown upon one’s own resources versus deliberately choosing that route, I began to think it over again (I wrote most of that post months ago). I soon remembered that I had been laid off in the past, and we managed the situation quite well.

Michelle and I delayed buying a house or starting a family for the first 10 years of our marriage. I had chosen an exciting career path that provided no stability. Neither of the two intertwined goals could be pursued safely until I found a position that seemed secure enough to take these life-changing steps. Eventually, I found a job with a stable company in a town (Juneau) in which we could envision living for the rest of our lives. I quickly rose to a top position. We started house hunting, and we started our family.

In August of the next year, we moved into our new house within a week of Aly’s birth. In November, I faced the unpleasant task of telling Michelle that I had been laid off.

Of course, we were scared. Of course, we discussed our options long and hard. We made some rash decisions, muddled through, compromised, rationalized, and doubted. I won’t go into the details, except to say that I spent the next six months as a “house husband” while Michelle’s work supported us. I applied for jobs, tried money making schemes that didn’t amount to much, but mostly I cared for our infant daughter. In retrospect, those were the most precious six months of my life. I might have been more productive doing something else, but no job could have been more important!

Our frugal nature and practices paid off in big ways. We paid our bills, met our obligations, and ate healthily. Eventually, I found a job using skills I’d developed in parallel to my former career. Soon, I found a better job that paid more than my best paying position in my former field. Each new job brought increased pay, even though they often required me to learn new skill sets.

Now, sitting snug in the woods, getting by on subsistence, micro-incomes, and savings, I sometimes lose sight of what I’ve achieved in the past. I forget that I’m not avoiding the “rat race” because I couldn’t handle it, but because I’ve found a better way.

You will find a version of the essay above, as well as writing on similar and related topics in Sacred Coffee: A “Homesteader’s” Paradigm by Mark A. Zeiger, available in print, eBook, and audiobook editions. The published version will likely be expanded, clarified, or updated from what you have just read.

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