Givin’ it up

Deb’s been after me for a while now to post about one specific aspect of our life over the last two years. Because I tend to write about a day’s events, or generally about what’s happening here and now, I’m sorry to say that I’ve pushed her suggestion to the back of the queue. Today, with little else going on here, I have a window to talk about it.

The subject, to borrow the word she used, is sacrifice.

What follows here might not be what you expect. No hair shirt. No martyrdom. No false humility. We know what real sacrifice is, and in no way have we dealt with that kind of loss.

When we took to the road in May of 2021, Deb and I abandoned the only kind of life we’d ever known — a base, a fixed location, the same surroundings day after day. We left behind family and friends, favorite haunts and common experiences.

We exchanged the ease of certainty for the discomfort of The Unknown. Every day that followed would be unfamiliar, different — we were entering terra incognita. It was a choice based on our judgement that whatever we might gain would be worth leaving what we knew.

By some definition, I suppose, that was a sacrifice. Then and now, however, we look at it differently — we simply traded one thing for another, in pursuit of reward.

And rewarded we were, with nearly a year of incomparable moments and indelible memories. What we gained was worth giving up the life we’d known. The bargain we struck paid off.

Our original plan had been to return to our previous life after a year or so of traveling, essentially reversing the trade we’d made. As you know by now, ultimately we decided to give up two lives — our home in Ohio and our road show — in favor of a third, a new life on The Mountain.

I won’t re-hash what I’ve said already about swapping the familiar for the unfamiliar. In that way, at least, much of what we’re doing now mirrors the choice we made two years ago.

This time, though, what’s truly striking are the cultural and commercial contrasts between a suburb of greater Columbus, Ohio and a homestead nestled in the woods between Yellville and Flippin, Arkansas.

First and fundamentally, this is The South. There’s no overstating the difference that makes — pace and politics, vibe and values, it’s a quantum leap away from a once-great Midwest city that’s turned its back on its American character.

Second, this is The Country. Towns and businesses are small, scattered and independent. It’s not on anyone’s ride-share route or campaign swing. Neighbors aren’t “right next door.” Life and lifestyle are humble, simple and, in some respects, damned gritty.

Poverty is no stranger to these parts.

There’s a whole lot more to Country livin’ than fresh air and green fields. The Simple Life ain’t always an easy life — put away the glossy magazines, turn off YouTube and get real.

Deb and I knew that choosing to live way out here would mean givin’ up stuff. Yes, we’re far removed from family and old friends, permanently now. Retail, restaurants and entertainment opportunities nearby are few, and reaching the closest cluster of big-box stores means driving a good ways. Impulse buys and satisfying sudden cravings are pretty much out of the question.

Fine dining? DoorDash? Pedicures and massages? Country clubs? An emergency room within a half-hour? Quick response from fire departments, paramedics and law enforcement? Paved roads? City water, sewer, trash pickup and snow plowing? Cable TV and Internet? A mailbox at the curb? Or even a curb?

Nope to all — but oh, the rewards.

I’ve described the joys and benefits of an American Life on The Mountain many times and at length, most recently in Friday’s post. We embrace every bit of it — landscape, lifestyle, culture and People.

But we realized coming into this that we couldn’t just pick up our previous lives and bring it all with us. We’ve watched others try to do that and fail, both on the road and in the Country, and we won’t repeat their mistakes. Something had to yield.

And so we willingly, purposely gave it up. Far from a sacrifice, it’s the best trade we’ve ever made.

This is, in the words of Thoreau, the life we’ve imagined. We knew what we wanted, and we found it. The reward we sought has a name — Liberty.

On social media this week I saw a meme that prompted knowing smirks from both Deb and me. A scene from “The Patriot,” altered to make a point, was captioned, “Where do you see yourself in a couple of years?”

That’s the image, below.

We watch the unmaking of America. We know where the world is heading. It’s not at all implausible that we’ll see Blue Helmets (like those depicted in the meme), or Chinese (which the current regime welcomes by the thousands at the southern border), or some form of domestic security force deployed by an increasingly authoritarian State (to purge Patriots from the scene, once and for all).

When (not if) that happens, we want to be right where we are.

To get here, we had to give stuff up. What we’ll never sacrifice is the Liberty we were born with. We’re surrounded by true Americans who’ll defend it with their lives.

Think about that. Put your affairs in order, Patriots.

The subject of this parting shot isn’t something I’ve “forgotten,” nor have I been shy about mentioning it here on Ubi Libertas Blog (at least three times over the course of two-and-a-half years). That’s because it works.

I like stuff that works.

I’m talkin’ ’bout Montana Pitch Blend products, a mixture of pine pitch and mink oil that I’ve used for many years to care for leather goods — shoes and boots, of course, but also leather jackets, gloves, knife sheaths and more.

Three simple compounds make up the Montana Pitch Blend line: Oil & Conditioner, Dressing and Oil Soap. I use the Oil & Conditioner most often, the Oil Soap whenever the leather needs a good cleaning. Only occasionally do I break out the Dressing, which contains beeswax for a little extra shine and an added measure of waterproofing.

A quick touch-up of relatively clean leather involves working Oil & Conditioner into the hide using only my fingertips. I wipe off any excess with a microfiber cloth and, if I feel like it, buff with a horsehair brush. That’s it.

I’ve found that the Oil & Conditioner alone keeps leather supple, even restoring it if it’s been neglected, and helps it shed water.

Like all of my recommendations, I don’t get a dime out of saying this. I just want to share what works for me, and Montana Pitch Blend definitely does.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

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