“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
– Helen Keller
After writing about this topic for the last few weeks, it is finally time for me to outline my plans for the next 24 months. Even as I write this now, I know that my life will not turn out quite like I am planning. It never has, and it never will. Life has a way of changing us and changing our plans. That is just how it is. So, I will share what I see as an ideal at this point in time, but don’t get too upset if you see my life plans have changed five years from now.
My first goal is to be spiritually centered. Many people have various ways to do this, but a big part of it for me is to set aside a portion of each day to relax, meditate, pray, and study a spiritual topic. As it is now, this is often an afterthought or a thing I try to squeeze in to my busy life. That needs to change.
Next, I will be maintaining and continue to build my marriage. The last year has been particularly rough on my marriage due to my wife being pregnant and suffering from very significant morning sickness through the entire pregnancy. My youngest daughter is just two months old, and my wife is doing very well. But we still have a very busy life with raising four young children. This is a busy season, and we understand that; however, we need to focus on growing and working together, not just surviving this time.
In addition, I will be spending a lot more time with my children. I know I already spend more time with my kids than many fathers do (by choice or circumstances), but for me, it is not enough. I hate to say goodbye to my kids each day. It breaks me to see the fall of my son’s face when he realizes that the weekend is over and that I will be spending the majority of the next five days at work and not with him.
As far as medicine is concerned, I hope to always be practicing medicine in some aspect. I will be moving back to the U.S. in about eight months. I would like to work fairly full-time for about six months after I get back. This will allow us to save up some money and prepare for the next big phase in our life (see below). In the long-term, I would like to work 1-3 days a week as a family medicine, urgent care, or ER physician. When I decided to become a physician, I came very close to becoming a Naturopathic Doctor. I decided instead (and no offense is meant to any N.D. out there) to become as “legitimate” a physician as possible in the eyes of the general population. Then, after I earned my M.D., I would incorporate more holistic, alternative, and complimentary medicine into my practice. In the Air Force, I have been limited in what I have been able to do. It will be interesting to see where my career goes from here.
Permaculture… this already is a huge part of my life. To date, the vast majority of my activity in Permaculture has been in research and writing. To be honest, that doesn’t really cut it for me. I know that I am a very good researcher. I can glean a lot of information from a lot of sources and condense it in a way to make it accessible to the average reader. But that is very different than getting out and doing it.
In my mind, I often compare myself to Heinrich Dorfmann. What? You don’t know who Heinrich Dorfmann is? Well, let me tell you. In 1965, Jimmy Stewart stared in a movied (based on a 1964 novel) called The Flight of the Phoenix. If you have never seen the movie, and you don’t want a spoiler, then skip ahead to the next paragraph. Jimmy Stewart plays Captain Frank Towns. His small passenger plane crashes in the Sahara Desert. Realizing that they are not going to be rescued and they will die if they do nothing, the survivors take the broken plane and build a new aircraft based on the designs of Heinrich Dorfmann (played by Hardy Krüger), an aeronautical engineer. Only when they are almost done with the construction do they find out that Heinrich designs model (“toy”) airplanes, not “real” planes. No matter how much Heinrich tries to explain that the principles and theory of flight are the exact same between model and full-sized planes, it is only out of desparation and fear of dying in the desert that they attempt to fly the new aircraft, dubbed the Phoenix.
So, while I know Permaculture works, I need to put it into practice. I need to get my hands in the soil. I need to be in the fields digging swales and ponds and planting food forests and raising animals. I have regenerated no land. I have not created a vibrant ecosystem. I have raised very little food for my family. I know how. I know the theories will work, but I have yet to put them into practice… and that is driving me crazy! I am planning to complete the 10-week internship at Zaytuna Farms in Australia with Geoff Lawton. I believe this internship, along with my years of study, will give me a solid foundation to go out and establish my Permaculture farm.
Part of making Permaculture a larger part of my life will include consultation and teaching as well. I plan to make my land a model site for the region I am living. I plan to hold regular Permaculture Design Certificate courses. I plan to hold specialty courses on all the major aspects of Permaculture, homesteading, horticulture, animal management, alternative building, and more. I plan to have a premier education center. Of course, this will take time to build. Fotunately, the demand for quality Permaculture education far exceeds the availability right now.
I have already discussed my plan for building an intentional community. This is still a very real plan for me, and I have full intention of moving forward with it. As I said above, I know that my plans may change when the time comes for implementation. I am sure the process of developing this community will be no different, but I am still very excited about.
There are a number of other projects/businesses that I hope to be more involved with as well. If any of you have been following this site for a few years, you’ll be familiar with AgriTrue. This website has been a long time in development for a number of reasons, but we are finally almost ready to “go live”. AgriTrue is all about transparency in food production, and it directly connects food producers with consumers. I’ll be sharing more about this in the next few months. Another project my wife and I started is Because of Isaac. This is a site that helps childless couples fund the costs of adoption.
I also hope to build other projects in time. I am planning on creating a Permaculture missions organization to help build sustainable agriculture systems in developing countries. I know there are a number of these organizations out there right now; however, my plan is a bit different. I desire to assist full-time Christian missionaries living abroad to train and teach local people in Permaculture. This is not meant to be a means of forced proselytization or spiritual manipulation; it is meant to be a community building tool, a service provided to local communities.
Another dream of mine is to have a brewery/winery. I have no specifics on this right now, but I think it would be a lot of fun (and, to be honest, a lot of work) to produce unique beers and wines using local products raised on my Permaculture farm.
So, there you have it. This is my plan. Yours will be different, of course. However, I hope that this series has provided some things for you to think about at the minimum. At best, maybe this will motivate you and/or help as you make some significant changes in your life. Please let me know what your plans are!
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
– C. S. Lewis
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“American Gothic” by Grant Wood: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Grant_Wood_-_American_Gothic_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg