I am a product of the times. I am a young man, trying to find his place in this world. I am part English, Scottish, Cherokee, and Apache, and probably a dash of a few other things thrown in there that I don’t know about. I have served in my country’s Army. I have a wife, a son, and one more on the way.
My skills have caused me to receive job offers that would have paid more money than I know what to do with, under the condition that I move into big cities where the jobs were located. Instead, after leaving the military, I chose to come back to Kentucky. These hills are my home, they are where I grew up. They are one of few places in the world any more where I can go and find silence and be left alone, where I can hunt, live off the land. They offer me the closest thing I can imagine to real “freedom”. I hate to quote celebrities, but Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty once said, “If you can’t take a leak in your own yard without offending somebody, you’re not really free.”
So many people of my generation, and of generations before me, place so much emphasis on money that they lose a sense of who they really are. My wife and I both work. We make enough money to pay our bills and have a little bit left over, and I’m happy with that. I have no desire to slave my life away, be an absentee father, and then fall into a chair for the last 20 years of my life so I can gloat, “Well, I may not be able to walk totally upright any more, but look at my bank account!” What does a man gain if he works away his life for a large bank account if he loses track of his own soul, of what really makes him happy in life? By the way by “man”, I refer to “people”, not just those of us who happen to have penises. I have absolutely no problems with working hard to take care of yourself, and your family. However, I see myself differently. As long as the bills are paid, I am perfectly happy applying my hard work toward taking care of my parents, hunting for wild game, working on a house for my wife and I, things that have tangible benefits and improve our quality of life. I am the kind of person where money does not necessarily make me happy. If I had a million dollars in my bank account right now, I wouldn’t want a new truck. If I spent it on anything, it would be on buying up land and creating wildlife habitats.
I guess the point of this post goes back to the title. I’m just a man who enjoys nature, who feels, I guess I could say spiritually connected to the woods. I want to work hard to give my family a good life, but I don’t want to go slave away at a factory for a high dollar paycheck where I won’t get to be with my family, and neglect the housework because I’m too tired to do anything when I get home. I’ve been there. I’ve spent years away from home working my ass off on 3 hours of sleep or less for a week straight, and that’s no way to live. Because this is how I feel however, I feel a lot of societal pressure to change. I feel like this is the right thing to do for my family since we are doing fine and living comfortably, but I feel like society pressures people to live a certain way and to do certain things, else they be considered lazy, or a failure. If you’re not working hard for somebody else, then it doesn’t count. If you’re working hard on things you love around your home, it doesn’t count.
I would much rather spend my time being a father. Teaching my children how to be good human beings, how to live in harmony with nature, the value of hard work. I would rather spend my time working hard for the betterment of my family by providing them with fresh food and maintaining the house and the equipment we need to get things done. I would rather take my children hunting and teach them the value of real freedom, how to safely operate a firearm when they are at a reasonable age, how to skin a deer, how to change the oil in the car, how to manage their money and how to build a porch. There a million things I would rather do that I think would have a better impact on the next generation than working myself into an early grave. I want to live to be an old man, the patriarch of my family, there to give advice to my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren for many years. I think that is the way I can have the most positive impact on this world.
In many ways, I wish I had been born a hundred years ago. Today’s world has become so commercialized, so hectic, so confusing, that it really is depressing. Even here in the woods of eastern Kentucky, when I go hunting, it’s not uncommon to be meditating, right on the edge of total relaxation and peace, only to have it interrupted by the sound of an airplane flying overhead. I think our “progress” is damaging our connection to our humanity, to the natural and spiritual worlds that exist all around us.