Some very good friends of ours have a blog which talks about not realising how far off the path they had come until they turned around and couldn’t even see the path any more.
Turning around and looking behind you is not something you should spend too much time. Just in the same way that gazing forever into the future and trying to see what lies ahead is not a productive use of today. But every so often it’s an affirming thing to cast a glimpse behind you.
As a child and teenager I kept endless diaries. They documented heartbreak, hopes, dreams, angst, anger. Through the pages you can still feel the emotions of my past self still there caught in the turquoise ink and outpourings of emotions. The doodles, the practising of a signature I might have if I were to one day marry a certain someone (and yes, my current name is there many years before it actually was my name…). Every so often as an adult I have pulled them from a hiding place and spent time recapturing those days. I have a massive affection for my past self, I totally understand where she was coming from and what she was feeling, possibly even more so now I have children of my own. But I also have the benefit of years of wisdom and the gift of perspective and hindsight. I know that the broken heart did heal, the A level results didn’t actually matter a jot, the agonising over whether to chose a certain path or not panned out just fine.
Keeping this blog has been a similar experience. You joined us at the very start as we planned a step off the path, away from all we knew. There was the excitement of planning the route, contacting hosts, shedding possessions and saving funds. There was leaving jobs, telling family and friends, heading off our our adventure. Then came the trying to work out what to do next – with the benefit of hindsight and the endless retelling of the story I realise now we didn’t find Rum it was just there waiting for us, calling ever so quietly until at last we got close enough to hear it. I look back at the challenges which at the time, in the moment felt insurmountable. I read even between the lines of what I blogged and can identify the darkest days, the ones which had us pulling up a chair in our rocking static and demanding of ourselves ‘is this really, really what we want?’
It’s over three years now since we set off on the path that led us to Rum. Every so often we just pause and take a breath and realise how far we have come. Geographically it’s 600 miles and a ferry trip, lifestyle wise it’s a four bedroomed house, two cars, a pension scheme, a whole host of bills and not nearly enough soul feeding to self employment in a whole mish-mash of endeavors. a static caravan and whatever ameneties we can cobble together ourselves, philosophically it’s a leap from a wish to live a lower impact greener lifestyle to being pretty extreme. We’re very happy but to be honest we were always very happy. It’s kind of who we are and what we were and what we’ll always be.
Tonight Ady has been researching hydro power – we’ve met all our energy needs (with the exception of our freezer which is down in the village and a washing machine as we use the laundry room at the castle but we hope to sort out both of those during the year ahead) with solar this summer, minimal investment and very efficient. But we are aware it will not suffice through the winter so are looking into ways of harnessing more of the earths energy to charge up our phones and cameras, give us light and keep our fridge cold.
In the last week we have finished our fruit cage – a 10 metre by 10 metre cage with sides, roof and gate which will house all of our soft fruit to keep it safe from deer, crows and our own birds. It cost us less than £50 in materials as we bought in the posts, roof netting and cable ties but the gate was made from reclaimed pallets and the walls from gifted broken mesh panels. Three years ago such a project -from vision to completion would ,been beyond us, now it’s just what we do. We have become inventive, creative, able. We are able to look at what we have done and critically asses what we could have done better and would improve on next time. Never did I believe that at nearly 40 my greatest period of learning is still to come as I devour books and magazines on permaculture, growing fruits and veg, rearing livestock, using a polytunnel, soil conditioning and improvement. While Ady at nearly 50 is learning that far from just plugging devices in to a wall socket and paying a monthly electric bill there is free energy to be harnessed at very low set up cost if you just grasp how to make use of it.
That path behind us? I’m thinking we could improve it, add some decorative features and turn it into the exciting symbol of a journey it deserves to be.