I spent a few days in a remote village in Central Florida this past week, visiting my oldest while she is learning to live sustainably off the land. The school simulates a third world village and teaches the students how to grow their food, care for the animals and learn to live with little to no electricity, running water and outside influences. I knew all of this walking in, she has been there for seven weeks, and yet I was shocked by the authenticity of the place. After only a couple of hours, it seemed like I had forgotten my life outside of the village because there is work to be done. Everyone had a job to do, and several times a day they all come together to discuss it; one of the goats has an infected leg, what is the best course of action? An armadillo keeps getting into the garden and pulling up plants, how will we handle this? In the midst of the daily work, there are classes to attend, while I was there the group was learning how to provide emergency care until a doctor can be located, so that meant splints, tourniquets, sutures and emergency childbirth. Wow.
Although I loved spending time with my girl and seeing firsthand that this is where she is meant to be, I felt a heaviness while I was there. I don’t believe it was spiritual, I think it was the weight of responsibility, and maybe a bit of conviction. These young people (the average age of the students is 20) genuinely want to learn everything they can, and take their roles at the school very seriously. Most everything is done with intentionality, a reason was given for why they chose to do it that way, and literally nothing was wasted. At this point in the semester, they are allowed to have their phones and laptops, but I noticed them using very little technology, preferring to rely on each others’ stories and knowledge instead. There was a simplicity in this environment that I am not used to anymore, it reminded me of some points in my childhood, when the work was important, but so was community. The whole experience has opened up some questions in me:
Why is it that as we advance in our culture, we also seem to decline?
How important is it to have the latest trend in clothing, technology and decor? More important than for others to have food and water?
How can I better use my resources, knowledge and even leftovers?
What would we see if we turned off all modern forms of entertainment for a few weeks?
I have said for years that I have so much to learn from my children. When this one gets home, I may need a whole semester of my own.