I have this dream. The dream is recurring. It pops up every few months. It is difficult to articulate.
The dream is that my family and I live a simple life in the country. Sometimes the country is rural Oregon or Washington. Other times it is Oita Prefecture in Japan (where my wife’s family lives). In all cases it involves a high degree of self sufficient living and a large enough plot of land to grow food to eat or barter or sell. If the dream takes place in Japan it involves us restoring and living in an old “Minka” farmhouse. Ever since I spent time in Japan I have loved these old houses. So much so in fact that when the dream takes place in the US, the old Minka is often moved here from Japan, or built from scratch as a replica.
This would be our Walden Pond.
The romantic side of me aches to make it a reality. To give up the life and career that I have built in this modern rat-race world and move to an idyllic setting in the countryside. Not that such a life would be any easier or any less work. I have no Utopian illusions. But that the quality of the life, the satisfaction of toiling in the earth for the production of your own food and fuel. To be free (or as free as one can be) from crowds, concrete, morning commutes, office routine, bureaucracy. And to trade all that for nature, soft earth, fresh air, clean water, work in the fields, self sufficiency. At the end of the day I would rather be exausted from the work in the fields, than to suffer from this daily lethargic weariness that results from hours spent sitting at a desk or on the phone.
I would prefer to see my children grow up chasing butterflies, dragon flies and beetles, rather than watching tv or playing on x-box. I would rather be poor in finances and rich in lifestyle, than the other way around.
The pragmatic side of me is never far away, taunting me with doubts and reservations. Reminding me of missed career opportunities, and the ever present risk of failure should I pursue the dream. Constantly asking, what will you do for a “job,” how will you make money, save for retirement, pay for health care and education for your kids? How can you trade a stable secure life for a romantic fantasy that is doomed to create misery for you and those you love?
There is no middle road. No wait and see. I am almost 31. If I am to make a go of it now is the time. To pursue the dream and risk failing and losing everything, or to play it safe and live with the constant question, “what might have been?”
Which is worse?