In a recent article, a salesman was driving to customers, across the countryside, from town to town.  Suddenly, his car stopped running.  He was out of cell phone service, so he walked to a nearby farmhouse, to phone a towing service.

After making his call, and being told it would be an hour before the tow truck arrived, the farmer asked if he’d enjoy a cup of coffee.  The two settled into comfortable chairs in the living room and, as they began chatting, the salesman noticed a pig lying on the floor next to the fireplace.  And the pig had a wooden leg, which aroused the salesman’s curiosity …

     “I notice your pig has a wooden leg.”


 “Let me tell you about that pig.  One night, a fire broke out in the house while my family and I were asleep.  That pig broke out of its sty, broke open the front door, came up the stairs, and woke us so we could escape safely.  That pig saved our lives!”


            “That’s interesting.  But what about the wooden leg?”


“Last spring, while my family was in town, shopping, I was working in the fields on my tractor.  The ground was soft from the recent thaw and from heavy rains, and the tractor actually turned over … and pinned me down.  That pig saw what happened, broke out of its sty again, came over to the tractor, and put enough of its shoulder into the tractor that I could free my leg and escape.  That pig saved my life a second time!”


            “That’s wonderful.  But how about that wooden leg?”


“Well, if a pig saves your life twice, you can’t just eat it all at once.”

I thought I’d share some perceptions that differentiate “sustainability” from “survival.”  I believe that “sustainability” includes survival, but also factors in quality of life experience.  If we remain alive, but are hunkered down, living day-to-day and in fear, we may be surviving, but I don’t think we’re “sustaining.”

There’s a lot of fear going around right now.  Just watch news programs on the popular media and, with repetition, most people feel fearful.  Serious problems could occur, even with forecasts of Mad Max type scenarios.  Many people read from a growing list of survival books.  One of the best I saw is “When All Hell Breaks Loose” by Cody Lundin.  Rather than “Jumping to get out your guns and preparing for an assault,” Lundin offered a much healthier perspective …

“When individuals or events spread fear, whether it’s based in reality or not, over time, this fear erodes personal power.  Very rarely are practical solutions given to alleviate the fear, as very often nobody knows the true source of the fear.  Doubt creeps in at first, causing one to question his or her support system and safety. 


“Questioning can be a good thing if it leads to empowerment and action.  But too many times the questioning gives way to the giving up of one’s personal power.  The end result is we’ll do almost anything to feel safe again, including giving up personal freedoms and liberties.  We willingly turn our lives over to others, giving them virtual power of attorney to do what they think is best for our welfare.  Like cows in a slaughterhouse, this is a very powerless and dangerous place to live.


“True students of survival and life recognize that their inner worlds must be brought into order before their outer experience of life follows suit.  If your mental and emotional worlds are filled with fear, doubt, and chaos, how can you expect to have happiness and the calm feeling of centered self-reliance in your life?  The feeling and activity of true self-reliance comes from within you, and cannot be bought.”

In the research I did for my book, “Sustainability,” once I got past the physical aspects – food, clothing, and shelter – many non-physical aspects surfaced, including sense of community, happiness, quality of life feelings – which researchers were actually measuring – and joy.  When I began all this effort to create “Sustainable housing,” I never would have suspected that the ultimate goal of all this is quality of life feelings and joy … greeting each and every day with seriously positive and joyful feelings.  Well …

If living in misery isn’t sustaining, then maybe living with joy is.  And one of the great sources for causing joy?  Try this quote on for size …

“Humor begets joy.  You cannot have joy in your life without humor connected with it.  Imagine a candle, and the wax of the candle is joy, and the wick of the candle is you.  The candle stands there inactive.  Nothing happens with the wax (the joy).  It is suspended in a shaft that is going nowhere, but is poised and ready.


“Then the light and flame of humor is assigned to the wick (you).  It will start to melt the joy and activate it.  You can smell it, and the joy then becomes pliable.  It is working.  It gives off light, it is alive – because of the humor that is applied to it.


“Humor is the catalyst for joy.  Joy begets peace and melts the human heart.  Do you understand what we’re saying?  Use this.  Use it in all things!”

Now, how can we go about feeling joyful every day?  Does our work give us joy?  Does our family give us joy – every day?  Do our friends and leisure pursuits give us joy?  Some of this is in my “Sustainability” book, but I’ll be doing more research on this, and sharing it in future blogs.

(Now, if you didn’t think the joke at the start of this blog was funny … )

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