Never Enough Time

Guess I’ll kick this off right, and jump straight into the meat of it.

There’s never enough time in the day. Not enough to eat or sleep or finish simple projects. Not in the so-called “real world,” and certainly not off-grid.

Like many of you, I have a busy schedule. I have a day-job that consumes most of my weekly sunshine, and I have a million things to do around the house. The nature of my chore may differ (how many of you need to alot time in your week to compost the solid human waste?) but the result is the same.

Life sucks the time right out of us. We can make time only for the things we are super passionate about. If you diversify, then you find yourself wanting.

It’s the proper time for this post, as winter is nipping at my heels, and that means the firewood harvest is on. I spend a good chunk of last summer sawing up frozen slab wood, busting up pallets, and invading a stockpile of “small wood” that used to keep the tent stove running in the shabbin. This year, I seem to be staying on top of things, but there are days when I wish I had put more fuel up in the spring.

Walking through a typical day for me, well, untypical as it were: I woke up late. My body has had enough of the round-the-clock scheduling and ignored the wake-up alarms this morning. Good thing it was my day off.

I spent a little time this morning washing clothes. This consists of taking a five-gallon bucket outside, filling it with water and detergent, and then plunging my clothes in it until they’re clean. I hang them on a line that stretches from my front porch to a hand-made walnut cross. All-in-all, it’s not that much more time-consuming than going to a laundromat, just a touch more physical labor.

The laptop has been malfunctioning, so I needed to address an issue with my partitions. I run a Linux system, so most things are fixable, but the fixes aren’t a button-click away in most cases. Since I’ve been trying to get this site online, I should have expected that some problem like this would occur, but I wasn’t ready for it. The little five-minute jobs always seem to take the longest.

I checked my solar charger to ensure that yesterday’s lack of power input was the result of dark clouds and not broken panels. Then I started hauling firewood. I have several trees down around here just waiting to be blocked up and hauled back. I went into the woods with my axes and a little wheeled cart, and came back with three loads of fresh splits. Then I started on the new project.

I managed to scrape up a piece of scrap steel from my new job, and it’s perfect for making an amazing machete, so I did. I busted out the camera as well, so that I could make a video of the process (which I’ll tell you about once I edit and post the vid). I knew there wouldn’t be time to finish, so once the blank was cut, I set the project down. I can file a bevel later.

There are actually too many of these little chores to remember all of them, but I’ve now planted new microgreen trays for the week, progressed an experiment with extracting and calcining lime from wood ash, thinned my Daikon Radishes growing in the garden, cleaned seedling trays, made supper, lit a new fire in the wood stove, and who knows what else? Oh yeah, I built this website.

I’m left reflecting on the brevity of the time we have. If you really want something, you need to carve out the hours to do it. This seems a bit lopsided as I’ve closely studied the lives of primitive cultures in Africa and South America, and you don’t see that with hunter-gatherer tribes. People in those communities live humbly off what nature provides, but also spend a lot of time singing, relaxing, resting, and being communal.

The only explanation I can extract is that we live in such posh surroundings that it really does cost 8-10 hours of everyone’s time daily to keep things rolling. We don’t see this because of the minuscule part each of us plays in the greater whole. Computers don’t build themselves, television shows aren’t pieced together at the last minute, and everyone needs to eat, be air-conditioned or heated, have access to running water, electricity, washing machines, computers, mobile phones, YouTube, weather updates, new games, silly gifts, a change of clothes every day, packaged and sanitized food, a working vehicle, etc. The list goes on and on. We have so much shit that we take for granted. That stuff needs to be designed, engineered, built, and regulated by other people. No wonder we cannot find the time to do X.

That said, things come full circle, back to my simple life out here in the brush, but even here there are things to do. If I were to subsist on bugs and wild plants alone, I’d still need to pay taxes. There are certain amenities I could not let go of, lest nobody would be hearing my story, thus I play the game too, silly as it is, and live with the hope that someday my efforts will make a contribution to the lives of other people. I am the wild life, but I’m also the same blood and flesh as my fellow people and creatures.

Take solace in knowing that whatever part you play, you are a contribution to the greater human experience. Together we bring each other creature comforts and things worth working for. Together we sacrifice, and together we enjoy. None of us are really free of that. I don’t think so, at least, and it’s near time for bed.

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