Every so often, life has a way of alerting us to things that are obvious, yet somehow go unnoticed just the same. Sort of like the friendly rooster that crows each morning to let us know that the sun has come up, even though the bright rays of sunshine streaming through our bedroom window should be ample notification. (Although, if you are like my wife, who seems to have an irrational fear of live chickens, perhaps the early morning crowing is more likely to cause panic than awareness.)
In any event, life was kind enough to provide me with one of these “wake up calls” recently as our family was preparing for a casual get together to play games with some friends. Because the automatic ice-maker in our freezer had been malfunctioning, leaving us, tragically, without the convenience of automatic ice cubes, I attempted to be a proactive host and asked my son if he would “make” some ice to ensure that we had plenty on hand for the upcoming party.
The conversation went something like this.
Dad: Hey, can you make some ice for the party?
Son: I can’t. The ice machine isn’t working. (Read with the passionless indifference of an aloof teenager.)
Dad: I know it isn’t working. That is why I am asking you to “make” the ice. (Read this with the composed sincerity of a father that has the rugged good looks of Brad Pitt.)
Son: You can make ice? How do you do that?
Dad: Seriously? You know ice is just frozen water, right?
Son: Yeah, but I didn’t know we could make it ourselves. How do we do that?
This is when the alarming realization occurred to me that my son had never enjoyed the experience of twisting an ice cube tray to dislodge the “magic squares of frozen goodness” that appear after putting “enchanted water” into a “mysterious tray” that is then placed into a “miraculous freezing chamber”.
The point is that with all of the modern conveniences (like automatic ice-makers) that have been developed to enhance our lifestyle and make each day more efficient, we sometimes lose the ability to be self sufficient when those conveniences are suddenly unavailable. Like the sickly arm that has atrophied from being in a cast too long and emerges weak and frail, too often we lose the knowledge necessary to accomplish tasks that were so commonplace to our parents and grand-parents that it seems absurd that someone would not know what to do, or how to do it…like making ice.
With this life lesson fresh in mind, my wife and I decided that we needed to review some basics and focus ourselves, and our children, on Becoming Self Reliant. To unearth the common sense secrets that past generations almost intuitively understood, we determined that we are going to focus each month on rediscovering, learning, or developing , things that will help us become more Self Reliant. To help us remain committed to this quest for greater self reliance, we have decided to share our experiences each month in a series of posts.
Some things may be simple or small, like baking our own bread or practicing better budgeting; others may be more involved, like planting a bigger garden or building a chicken coop to have chickens that can provide us with our own fresh eggs. (My wife has not fully committed to this idea yet and continues to wander around the house mumbling to herself about crazy “chickens having large talons” but I am hoping by the end of the year to have helped her see beyond her poultry paranoia.)
I am not suggesting that you need to cut yourself off from civilization, start wearing clothes made from burlap potato sacks and cooking all of your food over an open fire, but there is something wonderfully liberating about knowing that you are not completely dependent upon a store, the government, a machine, or chance. Some things we share will be skills we have already developed, some things will be about new talents we will try to acquire. And there may even be the occasional post that talks about the challenges and failures we have as we try to expand our abilities.
As we relate the experiences in our Becoming Self Reliant series, we hope that you will join us in sharing things you currently do, or are trying to put into practice, that have helped your family become more self reliant. And if you have any, “you can make your own ice” experiences, we hope you will share those as well.