During the pastrami we all had a lot of time to sit and think – and one of the things I came to accept is that the majority of the “dreams” I had were not things I wanted, but things I could imagine myself doing. It wasn’t until more recently that I realized what I truly wanted out of life – peace and quiet. It wasn’t long before I was neck-deep in simple living blogs and scouring the entire continent on Zillow. I don’t know what I’ll do for money. I don’t know if I’ll be alone, shacked up, splitting up property with friends, or any other details, but I know this – in five years, I don’t want to be doing this.
The realization began with a single moving image in my brain – just me, steaming tea in hand, looking out into a winter wonderland from my window, preparing for a day of self-sufficiency. That image came with the understanding of so much more – that I have proven for thirty years that I can shoulder responsibilities, that I work best under pressure, that I can do anything I put my mind to – but that I am not made for city life or suburbia. There were things I was always picturing in the past that felt so incredibly daunting – life as a writer, a flipper, a designer, whatever. But they all came with the trappings of modern society that I want nothing to do with.
It seems like we, as a society, have just accepted that we have two options: to work for someone else, or to work exploiting others, and that either way comes with an expectation of exploiting the land, keeping up with the Jonesesees. I have always hated suburbia, but all the things I hate about it don’t feel any lessened if I were to live city-side. I hate the cycle of consumerism that I find myself drawn into. I hate the effects my day to day have on the world around me. I hate the anxiety of working for nameless corporations that do not have my best interests at heart. There are so many things I feel like we all constantly talk about universally hating, but we just accept them as a way of life. It seems so ridiculous that we tell ourselves we have to live these lives we hate.
All I know is, I want out. Free. I want to work hard to sustain myself and my unit, whoever they end up being. I want to be a steward for the land, instead of taking from it. I want to live amongst the problems I’ve solved. I don’t want to work 40 hours a week raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for people who don’t even know who I am. I want a goat or two, and some chickens. I don’t care if I’m vegan, I just want them! That’s the excess I want, fluffy animal friends! I want to spend 40 hours a week knitting, and canning, and tending to the garden.
I don’t know all the details, but I know the intention. And that’s something that’s been sorely lacking from any of my dreams before: the why. I used to dream about being a writer or a graphic designer, and while I had some propensity, I didn’t have the drive. And I knew I never wanted to do those things for anyone. For years, I’d go through bouts of exuding creativity, but the thought of clocking in and doing it for someone else took all of the joy out if it (and it helps that my inability to complete school seems to constantly put those things on hold). My creative rendezvous would always end because of one of two reasons: self doubt or running on empty.
I work in retail, so it’s not like I made some big break outside of those things. I used to think about what life would be like if I continued climbing the ladder – and then I did. Several times. Several companies. Several product categories. But everything is the same, and I’m morally unfit for the capitalistic needs of my job. I spent a lot of time daydreaming of escaping it; getting my degree, working in an office, being a “creative.” But I always come to the same conclusion: I don’t want to be creative under someone else’s service; I want to be creative for me. And at the end of the day, even creatives are money-making machines.
A lot of people work hard and do the creative stuff on the side. But my energy level has never been there. I’m not the side-hustle type. I’m not even the hustle type. I’m barely the side type. Now that might make some people question why I would want to run away into the woods where I would have to do more than ever to stay alive, and, that’s fair. I don’t really know the answer to that. I know that every day I am too damn tired to do extracurricular activities. There is a reason I start new blogs every year and a half, post three times, and never look back. There is a reason for the 100’s of story ideas in my Notes app.
Some of the reasoning may be chemical, some nature, some nurture. I’ve never been a motivated type. I’m anxious about everything, yet somehow also too chill(?). I am my own worst critic. I probably have a few imbalances that I am too depressed to go get cured right now. And the things that used to be mild annoyances in my early twenties are now full blown handicaps. But all of that melts away when placed before the almighty glow of one simple fact: on my best days, on my worst days, on every day in-between, there is no amount of joy I will ever get out of working under capitalism.
Contrast this with the joy I get from building something, from keeping my plants alive, from pickling a good pickle. Even in my darkest moments, I can find pride in the things I manage to do. The things I want to do are ephemeral; they’re fleeting, temporary little joys. I just want the time to see them when they spring up. I want to work on my own terms, to have quiet time in the stillness of the forest, to go a day or two without uttering a single word. There is comfort in my reclusive nature that strengthens me. It’s those moments where my energy swells, where my abilities seem limitless… and then I clock in, I get beaten down, and I wait for another sliver of joy to possess me again.
I’ve come to accept that my dream job is a weathered old witch in the woods. I think we all kind of knew that, deep down inside. And the year of shut-in really opened my eyes to how much happier I am when I’m needling that thread. Escaping suburbia feels like expressing to my true nature, rather than suppressing it. It’s one of the only times that something being daunting as fuck filled me with anticipation rather than dread. It’s like realizing you’ve been doing something the hard way for twenty years.
I’ve got time to learn, to fix the broken things, to figure out the intricate details. I’ve talked before about my money troubles, and how for the first time in my life I have a compass. I’m living with a direction, not a dream, because this finally feels like something that’s right. I don’t know the first thing about farm life, and I’m not exactly the kind of person who is built for it. There’s a lot of reasons not to do it – but every time one of those self-sabotaging questions comes up, I finally have an answer that trumps them all.
The finances I’m working on. And while it may only be a pot of $550 so far, it’ll grow. The knowledge is next, and I’m sure a lot of that will end up here. But the dream, the plan, is alive and kicking. In 2026, somehow, someway, I’m entering that new chapter, and this is only the preface.