Posted by Anton Lo almost 9 years ago
We live in a society where we are encouraged to give up personal responsibility in so many ways. Instead of doing things for ourselves, we're supposed to cede power to a so-called expert who REALLY knows what he is doing (the expert can be a she, but usually is a he). That's why it can be scary when we start off on our permaculture journey. I believe that truly practicing permaculture requires some sacrifices, which tend to push us out of our comfort zone. We can start small and all that, but making a real change means just that- real change. Reallocating time, taking on new responsibilities that aren't all fun and excitement, and giving up certain things that we're used to are all part of change. And while the seemingly endless list of tasks can be daunting, the real work may come from having to change our ways of thinking and behaving.
The internal changes necessary to radically realign our lives and careers along permaculture lines can be complicated. Permaculture can be so foreign to what we have been accustomed to doing, and sometimes it can seem like we're making little progress. I'm not going to attempt to get into the various demons we might carry around with us, but I will say that they're usually not as big and scary as they can sometimes seem. For example, the demons of self-doubt can come and go as you think of the work and energy you have invested with seemingly little to show (I have been in this camp!). The trick is to keep moving, say hello and goodbye to whatever demons you are dealing with and keep doing and studying. Real change tends to come gradually, sometimes imperceptibly. Be patient and persistent.
Another issue is the security of income that comes with a steady job, and how that has a great chance of disappearing if and when one leaves said job. In my case, it's a job at a company that sells mass produced, imported furniture, and it's definitely not the kind of work I can continue doing if I want to not feel like a hypocrite.
I can see in more than black and white- this job has allowed me to really discover, then spend time studying permaculture as some days it only takes about 5 minutes to take care of my official job responsibilities. The money has also gone into taking a PDC, purchasing books and DVDs related to permaculture, etc. So the income from this job has enabled me to get a good start in terms of a solid permaculture education. It's gotten to the point, though, where studying by itself is not enough and it's necessary to really take action on a larger, more significant scale than what I've been doing.
Have a Permaculture Goal
Today I had the realization that my it's going to be mainly fear of taking the leap and inertia that's holding me back. That, and a solid plan, I guess. But I've come to terms with the fact that courage and determination will be needed. The plan is not 100% solid, but that's not a valid excuse anymore. As it is, my goal is to get a well-functioning system set up and quit my job by July 7th, 2011. From there, it'll be savings until I can bring in income in a more ethical way. This might include building surfboards and doing massage, but my hope is to do permaculture consultancy and perhaps manufacture compost tea.
Between now and then, a lot has to happen in order for this new life to be sustainable. I will have to get a solid education in soil science, which means composting, making compost tea, and practical experience with balancing microbe populations. Establishing a harmonious and productive system at home is key to getting work as a consultant, because feel I have to really have something to show. The truth is, I don't feel like I can grow a significant portion of my own food, at least not yet. It will be necessary to demonstrate that I have the skills and knowledge necessary to do so before I can purport to be able to design for others and get paid for it! I know that, according to Geoff (Lawton), we should design other people's property first and make our mistakes there before going on to design our own properties. In my case, we're on a rental property, so it's no biggie if I get something wrong. And I would feel way guilty badly messing up a design for someone else!
Gotta Start Somewhere...
That's another thing that has held me back, and I'm sure the same is true for others- the fear of "messing up". This is especially so when I see the great work that the permaculture pros are doing. When I see what they have done and compare it to what I am trying to do, I might get a little discouraged. But I also know that you have to start somewhere. Mistakes are pretty much guaranteed; I just want to at least do a competent job. And that includes sourcing all the materials needed for mulch, making good compost, all of the stuff that's really important! Perhaps I'm being too cautious and too much of a perfectionist. After all, simply putting down some mulch on the garden beds will be better than not doing anything. The point is that we have to start where we are, with what we have. Which brings us to the title of this post- "Fake it 'til you make it". If the word "fake" turns you off, you can think of it as pretending until you get it right, or pretending with the goal of reaching the point where you will confidently know what you are doing. That is my goal right now- to become a confident, competent designer. And to reach that point, I will have to start right now, where I am, as a somewhat anxious but enthusiastic newbie going it alone for the time being. Wish me luck! I do the same for anyone embarking on this path.
posted at livesimplylive.com
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|Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course|
|Teacher: Geoff Lawton|
|Location: Hong Kong|
|Date: Dec 2010|