confessions of a wasteful builder

I admit it.  My hands are raised, my white flag is up: I am a wasteful builder. Even when I recycle scavenged materials. Even when I dumpster dive. I am still a product of this culture in this time. I still drop a screw and don’t run to find it in the grass.  Every time that it happens I see myself, as if from a cloud above my head, watching and shaking my head.  Watching from some time and place when screws aren’t a dime a dozen and the power tools have long since stopped functioning.  If the world ever really does go to shit then I am going to be lamenting just how wasteful I really was.  Then again, so will we all.  It’s the very rare person who lives in a way that wouldn’t be embarrassing to someone trying to survive post-industry.

Even when I am conscience of it, I still don’t climb down the ladder to pick up a dropped screw.  I see the screw fall, I see it disappear into the grass.  I shake my head at its loss, think about the implications, and then I take another screw out of the pouch attached to my belt and get on with it.  After all, I have 200 of them, and the building supply store has thousands and thousands more for a couple of bucks.  Why bother?  Climbing up and down the ladder is annoying, as it bending down, as is the fact that my baby-free time to build is far too short for any sort of interruption.  What absurdity!  What laziness!  And when I start thinking about all that had to happen for that screw to exist—mining, transport, creation, packaging, more transport—it all becomes more embarrassing and awful.  And I still don’t bend down to pick up that screw.

When we burn scavenged wood, I don’t pull all of the nails out of the ash tray later, straighten them, and keep them in a big jar.  (Though this guy does.)  Sometimes I think I should, but I’m just not that person yet.  I may never be that person.  The world is still full of things (that would be rendered completely irrelevant should a collapse ever occur) that keep me too busy to do scavenging on that level.  I don’t remember the last time I even used a nail.  As it is I am glad to know where I could get them, should that knowledge ever come in handy, and I continue to float down the easy-as-hell river that is life in the year 2012 (in this part of the world).

Sometimes I daydream about being that self-sufficient, that capable.  Then if industrial civilization were to end tomorrow, I could just continue on as I always had.  Ho-hum.  As it is that would not be the case, though part of me thinks, fuck it, I’ll enjoy what I can while I can.  I don’t hoard food, not on a meaningful level, though I’ve always been a bit of a squirrel when it comes to having a full pantry.  What I do hoard is knowledge.  I read books about storing root vegetables and building compost toilets.  I dabble in gardening.  I dabble in foraging.  I casually wonder if i should buy some sort of water filter someday, just in case.  I daydream.

Post-civ that sort of knowledge would be gold.  Then again, surviving something that disruptive of the status quo would also have a hell of a lot to do with luck.  No amount of knowledge is going to stop an accidental death, which can come so quickly, so easily, from so many angles.  We are certainly lucky to be living in times when death isn’t such a constant, in-your-face threat.  The more you get to the bones of what a life post-civ would be, the easier it becomes to appreciate the good bits of the world we live in now.  Though it still seems like a collapse might be our only chance—as a species to keep from fucking up the Earth beyond being able to support us, for people who would really like to see this form of government dead and buried—it would also mean a lot of sweat-blood-and-tears work.  I’m up for it, but I can admit something else: the lap of luxury isn’t such a bad place to be.  For now.

0 Comments on “confessions of a wasteful builder

  1. I love that you think about this stuff. I always thought I was a bit weird for always thinking about what it’ll be like when civilisation comes crashing down. (I guess I am weird, but hey, who wouldn’t wanna be weird?!). I can’t believe people don’t think about it. They treat life and civilisation as we know it as if it’s this concrete thing that will always be here, and get so wrapped up in the trivialities of everyday life, completely forgetting that we’ve only lived like this for a century or so and it can’t last forever. 

    Personally I feel on a sort of ticking time bomb. If civilisation collapsed now, in our current situation, we’d be pretty screwed. And I feel like we should fix that fact, and soon. We keep saying we’re gonna go live in the Scottish Highlands and build a little house up there and become self-sufficient. That way, no matter what happens we’ll be okay. I can’t see it happening anytime soon though, so I feel like the shit will hit the fan before we’ve had chance to prepare. But when you tell people that, all you get is blank expressions like you’re insane. People just can’t accept that one day this society will collapse. 

  2. Pretty interesting that two blogs I follow regularly have the same topic on ‘their’ minds at the same time. But hey, similar interests all around..I’ve also felt that I was weird ever since I was a teenager, since I’ve always tried to save water and electricity and felt very strongly about wastefulness. And yes, people look at you all funny when(if) you say these things out loud. Maybe they’re the weird ones, though, huh? Anyways, you wrote about Kunstler a while ago, and while I haven’t read his stuff, my husband has (though the non-fiction ones) and so I’ve heard about his reasonings about oil etc. second hand. Somehow I feel that while self-sufficiency is on our minds, as well, we’re not there yet to tackle it, perhaps not even close. I have a feeling though that who knows what the world looks like post apocalypse, so can we ever really prepare for the unknown? Thanks for putting all this stuff out there, it’s appreciated 🙂

  3. When (if) civilization comes crashing down, I hope that decent dentistry will still be available. How bleak and awful it would be if we had to go to the blacksmith to have our rotten teeth pulled out. Oh God. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

  4. RR: Well I’m glad that I’m not the only one who thinks about this all the time. It keeps my brain buys, at the very least. I fantasize about a little self-sufficient place of our own sometimes soon, though I think there would be more chance of surviving if you had a strong community. You totally should read Dies the Fire. I think you would love it. If shit goes down like it does in the book, and I doubt it will, actually, there is no way in hell that it will, but in that scenario England manages to come out a lot better than anybody thought. Too bad if it ever does come to pass we won’t be able to be internet penpals anymore…

    Sara: Which other blog? I think about this all the damn time, though I try to keep myself from writing ONLY about it. Heh.

    Susann: I hope so too, though assuming you have a dentist in your community that survives, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t. I just hope there’s some good poppy crops around. The one plus side would be the fact that without industry we wouldn’t be eating much sugar anymore, which would help cut down on some problems.

  5. Well, I’m actually thinking about my next read so maybe I’ll consider that. I’m still reading the same book I’ve been reading since March! I just never get time to do anything but read the odd handful of pages while I’m cooking or whatever. But I’m 2/3 of the way through now and considering what should be next.

    Yeh I always figured that’d suck too. Carrier pigeon? 🙂

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