Admiration

November 30, 2012 § 6 Comments

Laughing over spilt milk

Our friend Ryan lives in a run-down travel trailer set deep in the woods at the end of an unplowed town road. It’s not far from here, although it’s impossible to get there without feeling like you’re far from pretty much everything. He’s modified the trailer a bit by installing a wood stove and cutting a hole in its roof in order to access the second floor he built atop the trailer with rough logs and salvaged lumber. He has no running water or electricity, although he does run a light, a radio, and occasionally a laptop off one of the two car batteries he swaps in and out of his old Toyota in order to keep them charged.

Ryan has little interest in money, nor in working for money. He is clearly not lazy; in fact, he is almost always laboring, usually on the trailer, or on the pole building he’s constructing, or on one of his dilapidated vehicles, or tending to his copious gardens, carved out of a stony patch of wooded soil. He maintains just enough employment to ensure just enough income to cover the basic essentials of his survival. He’s not picky about what he does: Construction, farm work, car repair. I once asked him how much money he considered to be an adequate safety net. “I like to have $300 saved up,” is what he told me.

At this point in my life, I could not live as ascetic a lifestyle as Ryan does. Actually, that’s not quite true: I’m sure I could. I just don’t want to. But I appreciate what he’s doing, not so much because I think there’s anything noble or enviable in the rustic particulars of his life, but because I think there’s something noble and enviable in the ethos of living the life that nourishes you, even when (especially when) that life is far outside the boundaries of contemporary American expectations of success. When viewed from a certain angle, Ryan is not successful and might even be a failure. But when viewed with an understanding that success is a word and an idea that need not be bound to material goods and monetary wealth, that it can be as much about happiness and simple contentment and autonomy over one’s days and life, well, then, I’d say Ryan’s about as successful as anyone I know.

And simply for that, for choosing to write and more importantly live his own definition of wealth, when there is little-to-no acknowledgement or support for this definition in modern America, I admire the hell out of him.

 

 

§ 6 Responses to Admiration

  • An Untidy Life says:

    Hey Ben. I have “nominated” you for a Beautiful Blogger award. Don’t laugh! Seriously – I love your blog and had the opportunity to share you with others in a weird blog-love kind of way. It’s ‘Admiration’ with no occasion for it. Just because. Thank you for being out there.

  • Suzanne In VA says:

    I find that I tend to admire people like Ryan more and more and people unlike him less and less. I love to read about people living the simple lifestyles they chose that fulfills them, especially when it isnt what is considered the norm in our society. Enjoyed catching up with your blog this afternoon~

  • But what’s up with the spilled milk?

    • Ben Hewitt says:

      See that basket of onions? It attacked me as I was walking in the door from morning milking.

      BTW, I am laughing in that photo, not crying.

  • [...] so much more than what the consumer economy offers. I’ve spoken of it before (here and here) in the context of stories – not written stories, but life stories. I am fascinated by how [...]

  • [...] so much more than what the consumer economy offers. I’ve spoken of it before (here and here) in the context of stories – not written stories, but life stories. I am fascinated by how [...]

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