For about nine years, I was a hard-core prepper.
You know, growing and canning our own food, working to get “off the grid,” investing in and collecting silver and gold, learning the medicinal uses of local plants and herbs, how to identify them, harvest them, store them, and use them.
I often felt very much like Chicken Little, running around trying to convince folks that the sky was falling.
Preparing for the end of the world, or the end of civilization, or the end of a Democracy, is not the most positive outlook on life. So much brain energy and body energy and study and practice to quell that “I’m not ready” feeling that lurked constantly below my surface.
It’s an aching fear, consistent and never ending. Not ready. Not ready. Not ready. In the prepper world, not ready is equivalent to not good.
I learned to catch and clean fish. Taught myself to sew, garden, heal, raise bees and chickens and mushrooms. Collected canning jars, batteries, candles, lamp oil, ammunition, and first aid supplies until they were tucked in every nook and cranny. Pickle eggs. Dehydrate tomatoes, herbs, roadside plants. Open cans without a can opener. Start a fire from flint.
That’s where I went after 9-11. That’s how I responded to the Homeland Security Act. I freaked out, and started preparing for the worst. My bug-out bag includes everything you might ever need on the road to survive, and has been packed, untouched, for more than a decade. The vaccuum-packed, dehydrated food inside still hasn’t expired. In my mind, I always envisioned me giving it to someone else, someone on the move who needed it.
And you might never know it, but I am walking, talking, bottled anger. I’m angry about fill-dirt and flooding, GMOs, fracking-induced earthquakes. I am angry about haves and have-nots, environmental rape, oppression, corruption, apathy, ignorance, bullying, prejudice, hatred, and mistreatment of animals.
I am angry at our Oligarchy, in this nation and in this state. I am angry about state takeovers of schools, about a lack of town and gown, about entitlement and suffering and the lack of health coverage for holistic treatments. Truly, there is no end to the things in this world that piss me off.
I have spent years spouting from my soap box, watching eyes roll, and countless times had to explain why I felt the need to prepare. Years feeling frustrated, unprepared, unheard. I stocked enough to supplies to care for family and friends who thought I’d lost my mind.
And then one beautiful afternoon, I was sitting on the back porch glider with a prepper friend, who was advising me to bury our van, underground, on the hillside, because the only true way to guarantee survival was to go underground with our supplies to protect us from devastating storms and radioactive rain–thieves and military governments. Everything we had done was for naught.
And I thought, “I cannot live this way.”
I gave up life as a prepper. I went back to school, got a job outside the home, planted less, filled fewer jars. Never did get the piece to convert our generator from gasoline to natural gas. Never did finish that quilt, or harvest and preserve the mullein. I chose to forget (or ignore the fact that) the sky was falling. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to have hope.
And now we all see the falling sky. As each day passes, more pieces break apart. And I look at empty jars in the pantry and cling to the young but fading hope I had mustered.
Imagine how the story would go if Chicken Little had been right all along.
Imagine Chicken Little, after ten years yelling and being ignored, now slowly digging in a field, surrounded by chunks of broken sky.
“The sky is falling!” the villagers yell at him, “Why aren’t you protesting?”
He stands, arches his tired back, and shrugs.
“I’m burying my van.”