02 March 2010

Lesson #13: Self sufficiency is beautiful.

Remember waaaaay back to olden times?  How people just made what they needed, lived off the land, and got by with what they couldn't get?  Alright, you might have to remember back to before you were born.  Or watch some Bear Grills (Grillz?). 

I've learned that it's important to be self-sufficient.

I don't mean to contradict the bit of wisdom that says No Man Is An Island.  And I don't mean this in a basement-bunker-chock-full-of-tinned-food-and-adult-mags way.  Shady survivalist is a whole 'nother post.  What I mean is, there's something cool about doing for yourself, and doing it without relying on someone else's help.

A few years ago I received a pretty fun gift, a kit to make mozzarella cheese at home.  Now... fresh mozz is pretty accessible these days.  You can go get the plastic wrapped kind and it works fine, or the little ones in water or oil.  I have ready access to a super italian market just up the street that makes it in-house.  Cheap.  But now I had a kit, and I was going to make mozzarella.  I bought my gallon of whole milk.  I got cookin'.  I burned my hands a bit.  There was probably some swearing.  But in the end, I had gorgeous shiny tasty cheesy yum.

Realizing how much whole milk went into those balls of cheese, though, made me look at mozz in a whole new light.  But that's not the point.

It was fun, making something I'd always just run out and picked up before.  It was heady.  It was euphoric.  I wanted to start making more things - why stop at Mozz?  Why not do cheddar?  Sew my own clothes? (I did start to knit)  Matt was already making his own beer.... we could exist, an island of a house, subsisting on home-made cheese and beer.  Which would be the Worst Idea Evar, but that's not the point.

I realized how much I depend on other people for daily things, and it was nice to do something myself.  Make something.

It's healthy to depend on others, and to ask for help when you need it - more on that later.  But there was a point in my life where it became automatic to ask someone else to help me.  I didn't know how to do something?  Whine about it and ask for help.  I didn't want to do something?  Ask for help.  Something seemed hard?  Ask for help.  I was skipping the 'try to figure this out on my own' step entirely and relying on people I knew would step up.

That's not ok.

In fact, that's just plain annoying after a while.

Since then, I've made a conscious effort to take control of my life, and really try to work things out on my own.  I catch myself sometimes... my project, for example, is very frustrating.  I shut down, when I hit the wall too many times.  But then I pull myself together, sit back, and try to reason it out.  That's what I liked about science anyway... and it's helping.  I'm doing something.  And when I truly get stuck, I can tell those who'll help me what I've tried, and get more out of their time. 

And I think I'm going to bust out the last of the cheese kit.  Yum!

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