Monday, June 6, 2011
Growing up, my favorite classic story was Swiss Family Robinson. I still feel a tingle when I think about it – living in a tree, living off the land with my family. Perhaps explains my current situation. Ha! Living among the trees, not in them. But still.
We use Dixie cups or a reusable thermos instead of coconuts to hold water. We buy our food from the local stand, not hunted or caught in the river. But we’re trying to use our surroundings as a resource. Hanging towels from trees. Using fallen leaves to help start the fire. Figuring out how to live with nature – from putting food away every time we leave our campsite to testing new brands of bug spray (because apparently our old stuff attracts bugs, according to Jack). We can’t just go inside to get away from the bugs, or turn on the stove if the fire doesn’t start.
This correlates directly with my love for studying/teaching economics. What I love most about economics is what I feel economics is actually about: Creativity and use of resources in the face of scarcity. If you don’t have one thing, what else can you use? How else can you solve a problem, if the easiest or most logical path isn’t available to you?
There’s a whole new value system in our belongings now. We use them differently and value them differently: Our mason jar with matches stored in it is guarded like crown jewels. We mark our wealth by how many gallons of water we have. I feel such a sense of pride and security when I look at my giant pile of firewood.
Sometimes, it's about having to come up with completely novel ways to solve a problem. I still need my computer to work (and blog), but we have no electricity. So when we went to Pirates of the Caribbean yesterday to avoid the rain (another problem solving lesson), I plugged in my computer at the back of the theater.
To be honest, this is what I hope my children learn in the end. Maybe not just the nitty-gritty of living with nature, although that's important in so many ways (for another blog post, that one)...but about how to be creative with scarcity of any means. Doing a makeshift "shower" in the restroom, making sure faces and hands look presentable. Rationing out water...finding ways to get electricity...or regular Non-Woods Issues that might come up. Because really, they will in ANY life. Any life has scarcity; the way that looks is what varies among us. That necessity to be creative about resources, hopefully, will be the lasting lesson of all this.