67 / Unlearning Learned Helplessness


Hi, Welcome to For F*ture’s Sake! A half-assed attempt to live sanely on planet earth.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I remember when my brother built a fire, on the side of the road, in sub-zero temperatures. And, as if by magic produced a piping hot water bottle for my grateful, shivering mother.

I wished I could do that. 

As a kid, Barry helped Dad build and fix stuff; got stuck in with Mam with the cooking and mending of clothes.

I didn't.

He took those skills and built on them for the next twenty years.

I didn't.

A graphic designer with a solid career behind him won't cut much mustard in an apocalypse. Of that much I’m now all too aware.

But I'm not the only one.

Modernity has created a learned helplessness. During the last hundred years or so, there's been an enormous shift away from self-reliance towards dependency; dependency for our food, our heat, our shelter. And that’s worrying.

Ironically, peasant skills today are a luxury few can afford.

But fuck it, I thought. Money’s renewable, time isn’t. And that’s why, a few months ago, I chopped my working hours in half and started making plans.

I've become a part-time, professional indoorsman, transitioning to a tiny farm future.

And while I’m not planning upping sticks to till a couple of acres in the countryside — yet — I’m still thinking about nurturing the land, the value of simple living, the concept of having enough, and personal responsibility.

The tides of industrialisation, globalisation and monoculture are dangerous, scary, and frankly, dumb.

We must live simply so others can simply live.

Honestly, I’m preparing for futures both much worse than I could possibly imagine and much better than I could envisage too. I’ll plant seeds and tend to them while the world burns, knowing this is the most noble and revolutionary act. 

And you know what the best thing about this is?

Even if my fears turn out deluded, and Musk and Gates swoop in and save the world with their techno-fixes; the skills we accrue through learning to be self-sufficient, will still prove invaluable and life-affirming. 

Quite simply, the quality of life of a smallholder, whatever the future holds, looks the most rewarding.


My kids have been thinking about the future too. It’s a shame it’s not their own. They dug up my prized rhubarb crowns to bury an f-ing Pokemon time capsule.

Thanks for reading and take care - S