What Are Useful Humans?

Have you ever met a couple and wondered how they coexist? One of them is always GO GO GO and the other is always SLOW SLOW SLOW.

In generations past it was the wife more often than not staying home “watching soap operas and eating Bonbons” while her husband worked hard to support his family.

It’s a hilarious stereotype. What shocks me in the early decades of the 21st Century is the number of young couples I meet where the wife is highly functional while the husband drifts through years of malaise.

Have you seen those couples?

The wife plans the meals, shops for groceries, washes the clothes, cleans the dishes, vacuums the floors and makes sure the kids take their vitamins and brush their teeth.

She knows what grades her kids get in school and she deals with behavioral outbursts in real-time.

She saves money when possible to plan for that dream vacation or new car and she makes sure the kids always have clothes that fit their rapidly growing bodies.

Meanwhile the husband punches a clock at some corporate job and tunes out for at least half the day while he daydreams of a better life.

Or he checks Twitter every 10 minutes for the latest sports news. Or he plays Candy Crush on his phone instead of finishing his project.

Or he talks to his coworker in the neighboring cubicle about the latest White House scandal.

When he comes home, he’s bone dry. No life left in him. He plops down in a chair and turns on the tv or heads out to the garage to tinker or maybe he doesn’t even go home.

Maybe he stops at a sports bar or the driving range just to unwind. Meanwhile, the wife actively manages everything without him.

Hitting Too Close to Home?

If I’m painting too vivid a picture, it’s because I know this scenario all too well. I was THAT GUY. For years, I worked a job I hated, came home to tune out to the rest of the life, and woke up the next day to rinse and repeat.

I’ve been that guy who lives somewhere between dream, idea, and reality… and accomplishing little because of it. Despite providing a respectable income for my family, I wasn’t very useful.

  • I couldn’t make my own food.
  • I certainly couldn’t grow or raise my own food.
  • I couldn’t fix a machine – of any type.
  • I couldn’t tell what kind of weather was imminent.
  • I couldn’t navigate without familiar markers.
  • I couldn’t build a business from the ground up.
  • I couldn’t provide for my family’s needs without the structure of a third party corporation.

I had to choose who I was going to be. Was I going to waste an entire life waiting for a miracle?

The onslaught of news about our current ecological climate shook me enough to question whether my family was truly safe. Whether they would be provided for next year and the year after that and the year after that.

I realized that I took a lot of things for granted…

I assumed I would always be able to find an 8-5 job that would send me money every two weeks.

The checks would always come, and they’d always clear.

The groceries would always be stocked in the grocery store.

The electricity would always be there when I flipped a light switch.

The gas would always be ready to heat my home.

The water would always flow magically to my sink from the great invisible unknown.

My neighbors would always be hospitable.

The streets of our neighborhood would always be safe.

My roof would always stay sealed. My foundation would always hold strong.

My dreams would all just manifest one day like magic.

Failure is an excellent teacher

I had to come down to earth eventually. Along the way, I failed enough times to learn enough lessons to recognize that this daydreaming, non-participatory approach to life would simply never result in anything resembling a life I would want to live.

I have built this website in one form or another dozens of times over the past 18 years, attempting to record the process of development, and the discoveries that are made in each phase.

There was the culture critic phase, the entrepreneurial phase, the Permaculture phase, the homesteading phase, the stay at home dad phase, and the multifaceted, unlabeled phase I’m now in.

If I gave it a label, I would call it “becoming a useful human.”

So what IS a useful human?

It’s a person who is capable of handling, whatever comes. And I don’t mean just some master skill of adaptation on the fly, but rather a type of person who actively chooses to seek out new knowledge and develop new skills for the sake of expanding their capacity and possibility.

This is my journey, and I hope you will walk alongside me. Just maybe this could be your journey too.


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