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    Mar
    22

    Society, Love and Homesteading

    Posted by pockets

    I just reconnected with a dear friend I met overseas 20 years ago and haven’t seen since. I am quite delighted by this unexpected event. She is an interesting, artsy sort of person who likes to contemplate big questions and then fold her discoveries into film making. These days she is contemplating this: how does society destroy love? I have been thinking about this question of hers for several days. I think it has captured my imagination because it frames what we constantly think about and talk about here at Pockets of the Future a little differently than we usually frame it and that slight difference is shedding light for me.

    What is the ground from which love springs? To start with, I believe that love and the ability to love (not be attached, mind you, but actually love) are natural to us. The ability to recognize love and be love is part of our Original Design. Therefore that which is unnatural takes us away from love and, given enough time and force, eventually destroys it. The ground of love is also characterized by simplicity, intimacy, and awareness. The atmosphere of love is one of purity and desirelessness. There is a timelessness to love and with that comes the ability to wait and to perceive correctly.

    Love holds you accountable beyond all other ideas or obligations. It requires of you the maximum in all ways in terms of willingness, cooperation, patience, sacrifice and acceptance. Not because that which is loved demands those things of you but because your own loving heart demands those things of you. Love itself demands those things of you.

    Within love, there can be no force, no willfulness, no profligate excess, no flagrant disconnection, no distraction, no noise. As long as love holds sway, any such tendencies will be thrown up to the surface to be washed away for there is no place for them. The ripples they cause within the ocean of love are disruptive. The ocean of love is mighty and moves to roll over and over such tendencies until they are polished back into love.

    Ideally, human society would reflect the Original Design just as individuals most thrive by reflecting the Original Design. What would such a natural society look like? I have no idea. I have thought about this question since I was in graduate school studying social policy and yet I still have no idea. That is the unvarnished truth.

    I do know, though, that it would not look at all like what we have going on right now. The goals of present day human society do not include anything to do with love, never mind fostering love. In fact I would go further and say that the goals of present day human society run precisely counter to love. Or perhaps it is ultimately the most accurate to say that love runs counter to virtually all aspects of present day human society and it is because of this and this alone that a great correction is in the offing.

    The keywords characterizing present societies run along the lines of domination, profit mongering, control, an obsessive pursuit of physical comfort, fear, placation, instant gratification, ignorance, denial of reality, destruction of all natural resources both within and without, specialization, learned helplessness, disconnection - in short, immorality. Human society is built around taking from nature what nature is not designed to give over the long run. Human society is built around procuring for humans what is not in the best interest of humans to have. And it forcibly denies (both in terms of acknowledging and in terms of allowing) humans access to what is natural, right, congruent, loving.

    I have been thinking of the specifics of this in terms of the life cycle. Pregnant women are “managed” and made to answer to the medical system of childbirth. Their access to appropriate care takers, foods and medicines and the time and atmosphere most suitable for pregnant women is regulated and denied them. Childbirth itself is an event dominated by technology and control which is by far and away not in the best interest of mother and infant. The powerful spiritual opportunity the natural intimacy between mother and infant provides and which is the foundation of the family, healthy childhood development and so on is methodically denied and destroyed.

    Intimacy is a very delicate state. I remember back to when I had my first baby. My parents came to visit when she was just a couple of weeks old. Now my parents had never been interested in or supportive of children or family or marriage. Those things held little value for them. They were well traveled, educated people who needed to be entertained. They were not the kind of parents who came to help out. Rather they came to eat the best food and see the most interesting sights in the area and so on. Oh right, and see the baby. Now up to the point of their visit, my intimacy with my daughter was total but by the time my parents left three days later, not only was I exhausted but I detected a slight shift in myself. Even though my baby girl had been in my arms the whole three days, my attention had been forcibly drawn elsewhere and this had created a slight space in our intimacy. I only had the opportunity to see this because I went back to my old quiet ways with her immediately upon their leaving. The space was filled back in with loving intimacy right away because I saw it. This was an incredible revelation to me - the delicacy of intimacy. Whatever direction we start in, we tend to continue on with. A slight space or rift in our attention, our connection, our intimacy will lead to a rift and thence to distance unless we take corrective action. But to do that you have to see it and to see it, you have to stop and feel and take note and that society does not want us to do. This subtle intimacy is true of all important relationships (familial, spiritual and so on) and it brooks no master other than love itself. I don’t think many of us can even imagine any longer what it means to live within a web of truly intimate relationships.

    We could go on and on through the entire life cycle like this. People get married at odd times and have children at even odder times in order to accommodate educational and professional schedules. Children are sent to schools to be tooled to fit into the industrial/technological economic model. Mothers and fathers are both out in the workplace earning and earning and earning. Families live in houses that are too big and filled with too much technology that fosters individual isolation rather than family togetherness and which sit empty most of the time. Health care revolves around technology, rules, ignorance and profit with natural, simple, timely approaches to health problems frequently outlawed. Care and instruction about health, child rearing and virtually all other endeavors of daily life comes from so-called experts and not from trusted family members or elders of the community. Older people are shuffled off into buildings and systems designed to manage them away from the hustle and bustle of a profit oriented society. And the land and nature? No connection whatsoever any more. Nature has been objectified into a sometimes recalcitrant provider of resources owed to the owners of production. People do not even know how to eat any more so how can they be expected to love? All relationships have been fractured. Society and, perhaps, particularly American society, pitches towards the system and away from intimacy, love and connection at all points of the day and the life cycle. As my husband frequently notes, present day society rewards sociopathic behavior and calls men with soft hearts weak. Many others note that highly intelligent, well educated women who choose to give themselves up to love and intimacy at home are said to be wasting their educations and lives. Where would love and intimacy, simplicity and awareness even come from under such conditions?

    This kind of list is not new at all. What is new to me, however, is thinking of this endlessly negative list of how society functions so unnaturally as society methodically destroying love. And destroy love it must. You cannot control people who live by the dictates of love. When people are firmly grounded within familial and spiritual love and intimacy, they will not choose to sacrifice their ways of live in order to buy widgets. When people live close to the land in grateful reciprocity, they will not be as inclined to listen to foolishness. They know better. They still listen to their hearts. They can still recognize, at least a little bit, the difference between natural and artificial and know from long experience that natural is always better in the long run. (This pivots to a certain extent upon how you define the word natural which is a surprisingly interesting topic I will save for another post some day.)

    All of this brings me to the vibrant reason we homestead here and homeschool and meditate and do so many other of the things that we do and talk about. We want real food, yes. We believe in our rights to self-determination from a political standpoint and revile NAIS or the watering down of the definition of organic or any attempts to control homeschooling and bring it back into the fold of profit and control, yes. We want our children to learn real life skills like milking a cow or reading the weather or designing and creating what they need for their daily lives themselves, yes. We know from experience that a life with a balance of physical efforts along with mental and all other efforts is a healthier life, yes. We can go on and on with this list too of why homesteading and homeschooling and slow cooking real food and living simply and so on are life affirming choices that promote intimacy and quiet awareness.

    But really we homestead and homeschool to preserve love. We homestead and homeschool to preserve our family, to preserve our beautiful intimacy, to preserve our Divine heritage. We homestead and homeschool and live simply in order to have the space to create community, to create the quiet within which to hear what comes next, to create the future.

    Someday, someday the phrase “society, love and homesteading” will not be a study in contrasts. Someday “society, love and homesteading” will be a phrase of natural congruity. And when that day comes, that phrase “society, love and homesteading” will be reduced to one single all important word.

    Love.

    The rest won’t matter. Societies and ways of life will be original, natural expressions of love and gloriously un-noteworthy because there will be just that one word and that will be enough.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Feb
    05

    So Much More Than Just Donations - Growing a Garden of Hearts

    Posted by pockets

    Honestly, we homestead because we feel like we are supposed to. We homeschool because we feel like we are supposed to. We meditate because we feel like we are supposed to. We strive every day to live more simply because we feel like we are supposed to. We work towards living in harmony with each other because we feel like we are supposed to. We share our up’s and down’s in blog posts and videos and books to the best of our ability because we feel like we are supposed to. We want to do all of these things and we are supposed to do all of these things and so we do them.

    On what basis are we “supposed to”? Well, judging by our personal experiences and development, it is obvious that we are supposed to live this way because it is good for us as individuals. My husband and I have changed radically in the last few years purely through following what our hearts tell us we are supposed to do in this regard. We are very grateful every day for the opportunity to step outside of the typical modern, technology-based way of doing things because it is opening our eyes and strengthening our hands. It is deepening our spiritual understanding and melting away self-imposed, unnatural boundaries.

    Judging by our observations and experiences with our children, it is obvious that we are supposed to live this way because it is plainly so good for them. They are growing sturdy and strong. They have retained their natural curiosity and empathy. They are building spiritual foundations and intellectual structures of beauty and resilience that will serve them well throughout their lives. And they have each other in full measure. Their relationships are not diluted or fractured by modern day amusements and obligations. From time to time, my husband and I step back and watch them and murmur to each other, “It must be amazing to be them.” Neither of us had anything even close growing up so watching their lives unfold creates a sense of wonder in us.

    These two aspects of “supposed to” are obvious to us and very nice but they aren’t enough to fulfill the full obligation of “supposed to” as we experience it. There is much more to it than just us and our children. There are the many others - our brothers and sisters of the present and our brothers and sisters of the future. About them I am endlessly restless. I have a personal obsession with our brothers and sisters of the future for reasons completely unknown to me and my husband and I both feel very compelled to share what has been given to us with others in the present. We know that we humans have grown weak and unnatural. We know that the earth is headed full tilt towards a massive correction that will create much suffering. We also know - from many years of going through what has often felt like too much change at once - how hard it is to make many adjustments all at once and without warning. However, what we have gone through as a family pales in significance compared to what is waiting for humanity. We really feel that we all need to start now with making serious adjustments and with training our children towards a new way of life!

    And this is the toughest bit for us. How to really make contact? How to share in the most meaningful ways? We seem unable to make much contact with our own spiritual community. That is the most bewildering to us. We make some contact with other people at large through our blogs and videos and so on which is good but it doesn’t seem like enough yet. We are struggling with how to bridge so many gaps. How do you bridge the gap between “start adjusting right now today for the radically different tomorrow that is gearing up for you” and “naw, that is never going to happen and besides I am protected by (fill in the blank).” How do you bridge the gap between living for the future and the impositions of the still skewed present day system? How do you bridge the gap between “passionately deconstructing modern life back into some semblance of the Original Design” and “sucking up every last bit of unnatural pleasure and comfort for as long as it lasts”? We have no idea.

    This winter has seemed a bit long to me this year. Many cares and confusions. It is four degrees out right now (plus whatever wind chill from the brisk breeze that is hitting the house) and my adrenal fatigue gets the better of me more often when it is cold, I think. It is harder to stay simple in the face of complexity and harder to maintain even emotions and perspective. These questions and mysteries (see, I said in my last post I would switch over to “mysteries” and so here I am!) have been weighing me down lately, I guess. What to do? How to proceed? Where is everybody???

    I provide all of this longwinded context to try to convey how much two bits of mail that came in the last couple of weeks meant to me, to us. After a visit from a couple who feel like family to us (Will, the Gentleman Blacksmith who is training our young Will in the ways of both blacksmithing and gentlemanly deportment and his lovely, vivacious wife), they sent us the following:

    Dear Paul and Leslie,
    We admire your pioneering spirit and appreciate your generous sharing of knowledge and skills.
    Love to all. Will and JoAnna

    Enclosed was a check. Will also sent our Will a letter he will surely keep and re-read and the first book for his blacksmithing book shelf. All of these were stunning surprises that created much delight and warmth of heart here in the mountain cold.

    Last week another envelope arrived from two dear sisters in our spiritual community. In it was a check silently proffered with full and caring hearts.

    Both pieces of mail brought tears to my eyes and, in fact, bring tears to my eyes now as I write about them. We are very grateful for the donations and especially grateful for the supportive thoughts and sense of community and fellowship these two pieces of goodwill gave us. There are donations of money or goods or services and there are donations of goodwill and prayers and supportive thoughts. Both parties gave to us all of these and it means so much to us. Thank you all.

    I am grateful that our personal “supposed to’s” happened to have engendered such generosity in others and I look forward to a deepened, broadened fellowship of the heart that keeps us altogether beyond distances or time - a garden of hearts as some say that will ever be in bloom.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Oct
    22

    But What Does Being “Prepared” Truly Mean?

    Posted by pockets

    Ideas about “preparedness” are getting a lot of extra traction during these days of the underpinnings of our economy and the fear of people being exposed. I even saw the article “Hard Times Have Some Flirting with Survivalism - Economic Angst has Americans Stockpiling ‘Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids’” on msnbc.com yesterday. Here are some snippets from the article:

    With foreclosure rates running rampant, financial institutions teetering and falling, prices for many goods and services climbing, and jobs being slashed, many Americans are making preparations for worse times ahead. For some, that means cutting spending and saving more. For others, it means taking a step into survivalism, once regarded solely as the province of religious End-of-Timers, sci-fi fans and extremists.

    That often manifests itself as a desire to secure basic emergency resources — what survival guru Jim Wesley Rawles describes as “beans, bullets and Band-Aids.”

    “There are a lot more people — a lot more eager people — who are trying to get themselves squared away logistically,” said Rawles, who lectures and writes books on preparing for and surviving “TEOTWAWKI” — The End Of The World As We Know It.

    “I’m getting slammed with big orders,” said Kurt Wilson, a distributor of freeze-dried foods and other provisions with decades-long shelf life, like canned meat, cheese and butter.

    “I have customers who were spending 200 bucks a month now spending $5,000 to $8,000,” Wilson said from his warehouse in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. “I get little old ladies calling up, stocking up for their grandchildren.”

    Seattle survivalist Hagmahani sees such commodity hoarding as just a partial measure for weathering a financial crisis.

    On his blog, mutuallyassuredsurvival.com, he advises people to prepare for a “major paradigm shift” that will, in a decade, leave the U.S. with a Third World economy.

    He said he began his preparations after witnessing the burst of the high-tech bubble in 2001, paying off the family’s debt, moving his assets away from stocks into safer investments, including, he implies, some precious metals and offshore accounts.

    In the last three or four years, he has led his clan away from what he calls their former “yuppyish lifestyle.” They no longer eat out, cook most meals from scratch, and rarely drive their one car. They also are all learning practical skills — such as sewing, nursing and wielding a gun for self-defense.

    “One thing I’m adamant about is that each of the kids needs real skills; they can’t just be a pencil pusher,” says Hagmahani of 19-year-old Hans, Sofia, 14, and Erik, 12. “You might get lucky and get a cushy job, but you might not. You need high-tech skills and low-tech skills for dealing with a systemic breakdown.”

    Stocking up on food, lowering debt, building skills… These are all good things when done with the right attitude. As a matter of fact, I think that stocking up on food, living within one’s means and building skills used to be a pretty natural and common aspect of life. The present day idea of needing both high-tech and low-tech skills in order to deal the breakdown of the present manmade system is sound advice. But does it really constitute being “prepared”?

    Michael Bunker says absolutely not:

    One of the problems, though, with the preparedness folk, is that they do not see beyond the fundamental errors of the people. Whereas the ignorant folk say “I have no need of storing up any goods when there is a nice, shiny, clean store just down the road”, the preparedness folk say, “Yes, and I will go to that store and buy up enough food for X years”, as if they know that X years supply of food will be sufficient. In both cases, the people are relying on the store. The ignorant folk say, “the government will take care of me if I run out of food, water, or shelter”, and the preparedness folk say, “Well, I would rather rely on myself and chance”. By this I mean that neither desires to make a wholesale change in the very principles and worldview that inform their decisions. Neither desires TODAY to be dependent on God and His Word. Neither wants to give up modern comfort and modern security in order to throw themselves on a Holy and Righteous God. I’ve seen it for years.

    Many of you may not know that I was a preparedness teacher many years before the Y2K scare of a decade ago. In fact, I was teaching preparedness before I had even heard of Y2K. I finally gave up when I realized that people will prepare for events, and they will prepare for hardships - but only so long as their fundamental principles are not challenged. They will not accept the idea that the very fundamentals of their industrial/commercial society is Anti-christ, and mentally and spiritually crippling. They will not accept that the way they have chosen to live is why the system is evil and must eventually collapse. They will not accept that their perpetual 72 degree lives are designed to ease them into hell. They will prepare, so long as the preparations guarantee a certain standard of living, and say to them that they will not die hungry or thirsty, or from some horrendous calamity, and that some day… things will return to “normal”, which is to say that they will one day get to return to their lives of colonized leisure and comfort.

    So… we can see that some will not leave Sodom at all because they are Sodomites,and some will leave, but will turn back hoping it is not utterly destroyed.

    Preparedness for events is a recipe for eternal and spiritual failure.

    I am not saying you should not buy food from stores, especially when it is on sale and you have not yet developed a system of food production for yourself and your family. I am saying that you should not rely on a band-aid when you have a potentially fatal bullet wound. 10.07.2008 October Rants (or “Rants-fest”) Part 1 (You have to scroll down the page.)

    A great point. As a matter of fact, it is the most important point regarding “preparedness.” What is our internal state? How much do we understand of natural laws as opposed to man made rules? Understanding the differences and learning to live within the natural laws are the most profound and powerful preparedness measures we can take. Then at that point, we can meaningfully begin to prepare practically in our daily lives. The latter without the former is merely re-arranging the playing pieces on the same old game board when we should be switching to a different game board altogether. The real game board is entitled:

    Fix up your goal which should be ‘complete oneness’ with God. Rest not till the ideal is achieved. Maxim 3

    Once we are on the right game board of life, and we tailor our actions to that and set aside the unthinking, societal ways with which we have been indoctrinated, then we can say that we are on our way to becoming “prepared” for life in a dramatically changing world.

    As a matter of fact, we are slowly starting to add a new curriculum into The Lionsgate School program aptly entitled “Prepare and Pray!” I will be posting much more about this in the future.

    May we all prepare now for the real emergency in our lives - which is not economic but of the heart.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Jan
    07

    Sacred Coverings That Used to Protect Now Only Draw Attention

    Posted by pockets

    Throughout human history, a life beautifully lived has contained within it both the profane and the sacred. During different epochs and different cultures, the percentages have perhaps shifted between how much of life was profane and how much of it was sacred but what was sacred was always present and generally clear and accepted by everybody involved.

    What does the word “sacred” refer to? It refers to that which is the most highly valued and respected. It refers to that which is worthy of our deepest veneration. We indicate what we hold sacred by keeping it set it apart, keeping it hidden. That which is sacred to us needs to be protected from daily foot traffic and shielded from raised eyebrows and offhand questions. Otherwise it slips into the profane and loses its power to remind us of what is higher and deeper. It loses its ability to transform our use of time, our relationships, and us as people.

    A life spiritually lived eventually becomes almost entirely sacred because hidden away in the recesses of the heart, every action is done in His name and every word is uttered in His ear. Even the smallest aspects of daily life are transformed when they are done in remembrance of Him. Such lives have always tended to be clothed in modesty and quiet simplicity. As such, they were shielded from what was mundane and thoughtless.

    No matter how high a percentage of a person’s or a family’s life is dedicated to the sacred, there have always been accepted means of cloaking their sacred-oriented ways. The ways I am familiar with include modest dress, for instance, on both men and women but particularly women (due to the sacredness they represent). Headcoverings and prayer shawls. Sundays (or Saturdays) spent as the Sabbath. Modest homes with modest furnishings. Children coming as He sends them and accepted faithfully and trained carefully. Food chosen for its life-giving qualities and eaten with a prayer of gratitude. Quiet manners and a civil approach towards all. These standards or ways of life designated that something sacred lay within a heart, within a home. They were developed to precisely not call attention to the pulsing, vibrant sacredness that lay within. They granted some measure of peace from the general public and from whatever the group-thought was of the time (since most epochs have exhibited far more of the profane than the sacred).

    The Sardinian Woman and the Girl with a Pearl Earring seem unassailable, don’t they? They are beautiful and yet their hearts and their deeper beauty are hidden away from casual observers.


    But what is one to do in this day and age? To assume any kind of “covering” that sets aside what is sacred in these barely dressed, aggressively casual and cynical times serves only to do the opposite - it calls attention to yourself. So those measures that have served as coverings for the sacred, the venerable, the delicately private for thousands of years now suddenly serve as beacons (i.e. can make you into a target) because of the nature of the times in which we live.

    What is a person to do? In the upcoming future that is likely to become more degraded before it starts to become purified, how might people most appropriately cover what is sacred to them without making themselves into targets or drawing attention to that which should remain unspoken and unseen?

    Perhaps just like many other of the changes that will take place, this movement back towards setting aside that which is most precious will start with individuals whose hearts will insist on a way of life in which those sacred aspects of their use of time, their relationships and themselves as people will be protected. They will raise their families accordingly. Their children will perhaps form natural communities on a human scale far outside of crushing, confusing cities where the members of the community can be at ease with each other and accept the signs of the sacred they encounter for what they are: reminders to turn away and look within.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,

    Leslie

    PS The art is from art.com.

    PPS. For any wordsmiths reading here, there is a delicious discussion about various words that contrast with “divine” or “sacred” here.

    Jan
    01

    Happy New Year 2008

    Posted by pockets

    May we all ring in a blessed and successful New Year in service of the future.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,

    Leslie

    Dec
    31

    The Story of Stuff - Learn the Story and Then Change the Story

    Posted by pockets

    What do you get when the narrow self-interest of the few hops a ride into the widely dispersed future on the backs of the lack of consciousness of the many? You get degradation on an enormous scale. You get pollution, toxicity, poverty, and man-made disease. You get profound cultural displacement, war, and global warming. You get bleak future’s, devastated present’s, and shadowy past’s. And now, finally, 50 years later putting this truth into brilliant clarity with regards to the creation and disposal of material goods, you get Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff.

    The willingness to study a complex subject so long and so well that you can share its nuances and implications with others with ease provides a service to society. The ability to convey those complexities with well-formed phrases within a fluid, engaging, often funny narrative is a gift to society. To illustrate rapid fire nuggets of information and painful concepts with seemingly simple line drawings and the judicious use of color is the gift wrap required in this day and age. This is exactly what Annie Leonard and Free Range Studios have given us all.

    The newly launched The Story of Stuff is a 20 minute film you can download for free to your computer as soon as you finish reading this. As a matter of fact, there were over 250,000 views during its first week alone. It is being shown in classrooms and meeting rooms all over the world and is creating a stir.

    What are some of the effects of humanity having moved so far away from any kind of natural simplicity? What are some of the costs of people - particularly Americans - filling their lives, their homes and offices, and their landfills with stuff and stuff and stuff? In addition to pervasive inner emptiness, fractured families and communities and rat race lives, the costs include a devastated earth and an economy that will crash. Probably spectacularly and probably with everyone in power feigning surprise.

    After studying environmental health issues for 20 years and then investing 10 years and travel to 30 countries to uncover the real story of how goods are manufactured, dispersed and then thrown away, Annie Leonard can explain it all to us now.

    From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world.

    What is that statistic again about what percentage of the world’s population lives in the United States and yet what percentage of the world’s resources that percentage consumes? How many football fields worth of trees are being cut down per minute? What percentage of man-made goods are still in use 6 months after being manufactured? (The answer to that question literally took my breath away.) What substance at the “top of the food chain” contains the most toxic chemicals? What disposal method not only further releases toxins into the environment but creates even worse ones in the process? Learn these things and much, much more. As a matter of fact, go beyond the statistics and learn the story. Learn when this consumption-based economy began. See its big picture which is deliberately shielded from our views and our pocketbooks.

    A paradigm is a collection of assumptions, concepts, believes and values that together make up a community’s way of viewing reality. Our current paradigm dictates that more stuff is better, that infinite economic growth is desirable and possible, and that pollution is the price of progress. To really turn things around, we need to nurture a different paradigm based on the values of sustainability, justice, health, and community.

    Learn the story. And then learn your own story.

    Why do I consume what I do? Where did I learn to live this way? How do I keep myself vulnerable to continuing to live this way? What am I modeling for my children? What about myself, my habits, my goals, my deepest feelings and longings, and my character induces me to consume too much? Learn your own story.
    How do I change this? What does “living simply” mean to me? Can I assume that I really know what this even means? Is changing light bulbs and grocery shopping with cloth bags enough? Is getting rid of toys and extra clothes enough? Is going on spending fasts enough? Does “living simply” imply something profound just like switching to a consumerist economy implied something profound (in this case negatively profound) 50 years ago? Should I be searching for a paradigm shift within myself? What would it mean to have simple thoughts, for instance?

    Learn the story. Learn your own story. And then change the story.

    Watch The Story of Stuff. Share it with others. Look around the equally well done web site. And then start digging within. Social action is important but digging within is where the story should start.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,

    Leslie

    Dec
    07

    Encourage a Fellow Blogging, Video-making Homesteader

    Posted by pockets

    One of our subscribers on You Tube has apparently been inspired enough by Paul’s homesteading videos that he has decided to start making a similar video series himself. He too is building a homestead and is apparently chock full of old time skills and ideas as well as video making expertise.

    Paul and I are encouraged by the number of young people excited about our homesteading/family life videos. With the overwhelming negativity and fear in the world, it gives us hope to see so many young people eager to create more natural lives both within themselves, within their families and with the land. Since the future is always in the hands of the young people, this is an important movement. So if you have a minute, go check out Jeremy’s blog at Oldtime Smith and give him some encouragement and ideas.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,

    Leslie

    Dec
    02

    In a Daring Act of Deletion, We Show Google AdSense the Door

    Posted by pockets

    After a brief conversation a couple of mornings ago and a liberal use of the backspace button, Paul and I showed Google AdSense the door out of Pockets of the Future. We will gradually fill those side margins with links that we have personally chosen to products or services we personally use and that we know, for a fact, will bring benefit to you in a way that is congruent with creating a future-oriented way of life.

    Like so many other people, we need the POTF site and blog to help support us financially so that we can continue to research and experiment and share this perspective and information with others. Furthermore, we have lots of ideas for the future of ways to both expand and go deeper with what we offer here but all of this takes both time and money. When we were just starting to build the site, we figured we would put Google AdSense ads on because that is what everybody does, right? And Steve Pavlino says you can make money that way so, hey, let’s give it a shot. At least there was a way to generate some income from the outset.

    We encountered a few problems right off the bat. One was that Google ads are ugly. I am sure you have noticed this. And, by golly, every image and every word on every page of this site is something we have labored over so it was tough to accept having these ugly graphics in the sidebars. Also, try as we might, we could not find a way to control the content of the ads that appeared on our pages. Paul tried all sorts of things. It would work for a while and then - poof – an ad or two or three would appear on our pages that we would never chose to be associated with and presenting to our readers. The Google ads felt like an intrusion and they were not exactly buttering our bread anyway.

    I receive newsletters and announcements from Darren Rowse over at Problogger. A while ago, he sent out a link to a report from Brian Clark of Copyblogger and Teaching Sells about the next generation uses of web sites and blogs. In his report, Brian has a lot to say about the “tyranny” of Google and Google AdSense.

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    “First, let’s tackle Google. But let’s stick with looking at Google today, since the company’s power over the small independent content producer is already pervasive and frightening.”

    “If there’s ever been a perfect case study of a company that made a rapid ascent to just a bit too much power, Google immediately comes to mind. When Google achieves what many believe to be its goals in mobile communications and internet access for all, they will be a monopoly that makes Microsoft look like a poorly-located lemonade stand.”

     

    This phenomenon is everywhere today, isn’t it? It is this lust for power that is driving our world to ruin. As a matter of fact, this will stand in stark contrast to the distant future which will not be characterized by “power”. In the meanwhile, we have to navigate our way through this stuff as carefully as we can.

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    “There’s many a “business model” that relies completely on Google—Google Search for traffic and Google AdSense for revenue. And there’s an even larger amount of so-called business models that rely almost completely on Google for traffic, even if the money comes in via other means…You’re not in charge and you have very little control, because if Google decides to change the rules, you’re out of luck. Based on that, I would argue that relying on Google is not a business at all. I’d say you work for Google.”

     

    This certainly runs counter to any notions of self-reliance. Is substituting reliance on one behemoth with reliance upon another behemoth a step forward in any way? We suppose not. Can we speak of the satisfaction of self-reliance, the utility of building community, the strength that comes through faith, the joy of working towards a natural vision and then have this kind of structure at the base of our web site? We think not. The strength of the foundation predicts the beauty and resilience of the height of the structure, does it not?

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    “The people who do manage to make money with niche content and AdSense have to be quite ruthless about getting people to click away as soon and as often as possible. Beyond aggressive positioning of ad units that obscure the actual content, there is no motivation to make the content engaging or even useful. Think about it—quality content might get in the way of the action the publisher really wants, which is a click to somewhere else via AdSense.”

     

    Well, there is nothing “right livelihood” about this at all. We could not win at this game anyway as the content of what we are sharing here captures our entire interest. So on a practical level, this Google AdSense empire is clearly not the right neighborhood for the likes of us.

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    “People who are successful in business are also students of history. And the most
    important thing that history teaches us is that things move in cycles. Understanding this simple truth let’s you anticipate when to move away from the “wisdom” of the day that is really foolishness, and start working another angle that capitalizes on what’s coming next.”

     

    What an incredible statement. Not only does it describe why it makes sense to move away from Google-based business models and towards the newer, more teaching based models of web use now possible, this statement also speaks to the purpose of our entire web site! Yes, let’s move away from present day foolishness and start building towards the future that is already coming.

    The day before Paul and I had our brief “let’s get rid of Google AdSense” conversation, I was working on the site and glanced at the ads on the side. I felt something in my heart. “Gee, those don’t belong here,” I thought in that way that is not just a passing thought but an action statement that is about to materialize (and you often don’t even know it). The next morning, we chanced to mention this to each other. A half hour later, we had retired from the Google AdSense “company”. Boom – just like that. Paul and I often work this way, i.e. from intuition and a heartfelt sense of timing. It is very efficient and can also take you to wild places you surely never planned for ahead of time! It is the surest compass, however, this business of the two of us working in concert with each other through our hearts working in concert with His. Having Him and such a husband and this internal compass in my life is something for which I am grateful beyond words.

    Paul and I are intent now on finding links for the sidebars of our pages that will take you to truly useful, instructive, functional places that are well known to us where you can find products and services that will help you expand your horizons or make your homestead life easier or teach your children in a new way or whatever. We feel great that we are now free to choose what is on our pages and happy that we have another way to get these possibilities out to you. If you have suggestions for affiliate sites, by the way, let us know. Meanwhile, we are sticking with what we know in terms of these business connections.

    And don’t the pages of the web site and blog look so nice now? A lessening of bondage always brings an increase in beauty.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,

    Leslie

    Aug
    23

    The Blessing of Unexpected Silence

    Posted by pockets

    Last night at the very moment my husband finished filling the wash pail for the evening milking, we lost power. The sky was blue. The sun was shining. All seemed calm and yet we suddenly lost power. Just like that the familiar can become unfamiliar. A warning about upcoming change is not a guaranteed part of the program.

    After we finished milking, we realized with a start that all of the Plan B resources and systems we had set up at our old homestead in Louisa are not yet set up here. We had absolutely no water (drinking or otherwise) at all, for instance. Going without power for any great length of time could become kind of difficult. We also heard sirens a couple of times which we never hear here. We wondered if they were connected to whatever made us lose power. My husband decided to take the car to scout out the area to see what might be going on and to bring home some bottled water.

    We have all become so accustomed to noise. We don’t even hear it any more. We have no idea what affect it may have on us. The noises of human-made modern day life sank under the level of our conscious awareness long, long ago.

    My husband drove away and the children went outside. It was that time towards the end of a hot day in August when the breeze disappears. The thick summer air becomes still. Everything is quiet with waiting for the transformation of twilight. I stood in the house and felt the silence inside and out. The shell that the house provides when it is humming away with its electric tasks disappeared. I could hear neighbors I have never heard before. I could feel the out-of-doors in a way I never could when the power was on. I was almost outside. There almost was no “inside”.

    In that thick summer silence, I experienced how much noise separates us from the larger world and from nature. Likewise, as individuals the noise in our heads insulates us from those around us and separates us from our deeper selves. True peace, by definition, has no boundaries. It just is – everywhere and at all times. Silence, as an expression of peace, is truly blessed.

    My husband returned. We all drank water. The children went to bed. My husband and I walked back outside and pulled up a seat. Evening had fallen bringing with it a welcome breeze and the pulsing sounds of nightfall in the country. All was a beautiful harmony of movement and rejoicing. Behind it we still enjoyed the silence of an absence of man-made power and man-made activity. To sit quietly in this was rejuvenating.

    Shortly thereafter, the power came back on. We were admittedly glad to go back into the now humming house so that we could take showers and drink water and sit by a fan. But we took in with us the natural silence that unifies all experience and lifts us up towards our real goal of life.

    May such a silence become a permanent backdrop to our future lives, both inner and outer.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,

    Leslie

    Aug
    17

    Let Us Mothers Choose Out of Going “Unnatural”

    Posted by pockets

    Whether we think we like it or not, our worlds are built upon natural and divine laws. If we make it our business to seek out these laws and then set about living by them to the best of our ability, our lives progress as they should. Life doesn’t become easy by doing this as life on earth cannot be easy, but life can become congruent, blessed, peaceful and much simpler even in the face of perfect storms of difficulties. There can come a feeling of inner rightness that sustains you through all of the up’s and down’s life inevitably presents.

    When we disavow the natural and divine laws that form the foundation of our lives, there will always be unforeseen consequences. As humans, we are not above the laws that operate within our internal and external spheres. Therefore we are – by definition – incapable of predicting the consequences of violating those laws. Examples of this litter the landscape.

    Let’s take, for example, agriculture. For those whose minds were pointed towards industry, profit, mechanization and, eventually, a global economy where food is treated as a commodity, implementing the discoveries that have led to today’s “corporate agribusiness” seemed logical enough. Perhaps they even seemed like a “good” at the time. I am talking about discoveries like chemical fertilizers, chemical pesticides and fungicides, mono-culture on an enormous scale, genetically modified organisms, the machinery required to farm agri-business style, the laws and flow of money required to farm agri-business style, the set up of grocery stores – in short our modern food system as we know it. Readers of this blog are probably already aware of not only the shortcomings but the dangers to the earth and us as a species of the introduction of chemical fertilizers, say, or GMO’s. That finding a way to use up the excess industrial products created from producing explosives for World War I would lead to American consumers unthinkingly buying GMO corn in practically everything at a Walmart eighty years later could not be predicted. Unforeseen consequences cascade into the future. And while we are capable of starting such cascades, we are generally incapable of stopping them.

    An equally important example that triggered me into thinking about this in the first place is in the article Yummy Vs. Slummy - And the winner is… who cares? we’ve become narcissist mommies, obsessed with our parenting choices and defensive when confronted with others’ in a recent Newsweek (online). Apparently for some years there has been an onslaught of “mommy-lit” novels and non-fiction books that analyze, describe, argue for or against, introspect, anguish over and otherwise hand wring and shine a giant spotlight upon what used to be a natural function - mothering.

    Why is this? Why the onslaught of desperate or tongue-in-cheek or histrionic or strident books about something as basic and inescapable as mothering? I believe there is a rise in this “narcissistic, obsessed and defensive” expression because we as a society have long ago broken so many natural and divine laws with respect to family life, marriage and child rearing that any notion of those important undertakings being naturally accomplished is lost in the mists of nostalgia.

    We are lost and have lost heart when it comes to building a healthy family life. Therefore we have lost our vision of the future. A warm, loving family life well conducted is a blend of preserving past traditions and wisdom with present skills and yearnings folded into a vision of the future that includes our children and their children living in a peaceful, smoothly functioning world with spirituality at its base. Past choices and wrong turns have taken us so far away from any of this that attempting to be a mother of any kind often gives rise to painful self-doubt and shelves of mommy-lit books of dubious value.

    What place do mothers have in faith-based, forward looking families? How do girls and young women grow up to in turn become the mothers of such families? How do they go on to teach their daughters to become the mothers of such families? Are there natural and divine laws relevant to the conduct of family life? What cascades of unintended negative consequences from those laws being willfully ignored for so long are we laboring under as we become wives and mothers? Is family life meant to be stressful, isolating, alienating and overwhelming? Is that the natural plan?

    Are there any mothers these days who are at least somewhat conversant with a natural approach to family life and marriage? If so, what do their lives look like? How do their husbands feel and how do their children turn out? When we find these “natural mothers”, do we uphold them, learn from them, feel blessed by them? Do they write books and do we choose to read these instead of the books passing as “mommy-lit” these days? Do we read the books of informed, natural mothers and take note and feel inspired and go on to create change in ourselves and our families?

    We can use our hearts and our minds and our wills to choose out of the cascade of unforeseen negative consequences to family life that dominates today’s world. We can humbly and hopefully take the old paths toward a new future. We can determine to discover the natural rhythms, skills, attitudes and habits that can make family life joyful, simple, intimate and a “pocket of the future”. As things look now, it will take generations to ease our way into natural, simple family life. But we of this generation can start now. With loving hearts, internal guidance and a strong will, we can move as families into a new direction to be built upon by our children and their children.

    Some of these mothers might even write books along the way. I wonder how their books will be different from most of the “mommy-lit” ones we have available now? Well … I imagine they will be full of enlightened conviction. I imagine they will be inspirational, practical and perhaps even poetic in places. I imagine their books will give hope by calmly and joyfully reminding readers of the gift of home life, the necessity of seeing to its spiritual foundation, the fruit of living simply and the boons that flow from unself-conscious service and sacrifice. Such mothers, such books, such families will encourage - literally strengthen the hearts - of those around them, their readers and their societies.

    Then we can start living family lives of cascading intended positive consequences. Hearts will be strong. Futures will be bright. Peace will prevail. Our true human birthright will be within grasp.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,

    Leslie