We are all connected to each other, just as we are connected to every blade of grass, every beetle, every brook and stream. There are so many things you can do to recognize your connection to the world around you. Here are a few favorites.
Here in the west, over the years we’ve come to prize independence above almost everything else. We admire those whose success seems built solely on their own ingenuity and wit. We idolize those who have “pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps,” but we overlook the fact that those boots were stitched and glued by other humans. (Perhaps not surprisingly, this expression was originally intended to mean something laughably far-fetched or impossible. Picture a person trying to pull her/himself up by the bootstraps. It simply can’t be done.)
So many of us feel lost and alone, even though we may be surrounded by others. We drag ourselves out of bed in the morning and drive the long road to work where we sit at our desk and stare into a computer screen for eight hours. Then, we drive the same busy, lonely road back. Maybe we pull our car into a drive through along the way. When we hand our money to the freckled boy behind the window, we hardly glance at him. We come home to our televisions. We pay our bills. We spend our weekends anonymously shopping for toilet paper and curtains. We don’t talk to our neighbors. We forget to call the people we love most. And we wake up on Monday to do it all again.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can create the world we want simply by choosing to.
“Nothing – not low education, not full-time work, not long commutes in urban agglomerations, not poverty or financial distress – is more broadly associated with civic disengagement and social disconnection than is dependance on television for entertainment.” ~Robert D. Putnam
Western culture is buried under a blanket of fear. We’re afraid of guns and school shootings, and many children have to pass through metal detectors each morning before entering their schools. We’re afraid of other crime, too – home invasions, gang violence, serial killings, terrorism…. We’re afraid of immigrants and drug abusers, of environmental collapse and deadly disease. We’re afraid of strangers and ISIS and the seasonal flu. The fear is almost addictive.
But, in a very real way, we have nothing to fear but the fear, itself.
In a small village, there lived an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. He owned very little, but he did have a majestic stallion. His neighbors often told him how lucky he was to have such a fine horse.
“Maybe,” the farmer would say.
Years ago, I could be a pretty wound up girl. Now that I’ve learned to live simply, I’ve gotten to a place in my life where I’m centered and calm, for the most part, and if you were to ask anyone who’s met me in the past several years, they’d tell you I live a slow, tranquil, happy life. For a very long time, though, I was unable to deal with the everyday. This was a shameful thing for me, and I hid it well. Okay, pretty well. I kept it all inside, flooding my body with anxiety and guilt (oh, the guilt…). It spilled out from time to time, but mostly, I kept it all for myself.
The Internet has become a thick thread woven through our lives. We wake in the morning to check our email, spend our lunch break with Facebook, and look at the news before we go to bed. In between, there are games, videos, encyclopedia articles, and tips about how to grow tomatoes or build a solar-powered heater or charge our cell phone or peel a banana or play the ukulele. We find ourselves reading about the beautiful actress in an intriguing new movie or the plight of Syrian refugees fleeing from desperate and shocking violence.
When we look up at the clock, an hour has ticked by, or two, or three. What was it we were searching up?
I’ve been thinking about home, recently. My family’s little home is our peaceful pocket in an often chaotic world. This is where we come to recharge ourselves, and this is where most of the important moments in our lives take place. We connect with each other here. We’re not afraid to be our true selves. We can relax and enjoy life within these walls.
Which got me to thinking about all the ways people are making home a greater part of their lives….
Over the last several years, there have been countless attempts to define (or un-define) unschooling. Some say it must look like this or that; others say that each unschooling experience will look different. Almost everyone, however, has focused on the details rather than the broader picture. While reading through The Unschooling Handbook, I was struck by the section titled “Traits of an Unschooling Household.” She listed three….