If you asked yourself what vital skills do you actually have, and you couldn’t come up with any — don’t be too hard on yourself. We live in a world conditioned on electricity, modern conveniences, and simulation. Your house is the simulation of a cave. Your furnace is the simulation of a fire. Your grocery store is the simulation of hunting and gathering. And if you honestly asked yourself what vital skills you can actually contribute, it’s an eye-opening realization as to what modern conveniences and the evolutionary path of ego and technology are causing to humanity’s natural vital skills. It’s a self-assessment and reality check.
Natural vital skills have been reduced to being arts and crafts, recreational hobbies, and sports.
For example, you may consider pottery to be an art and creative pastime, and it is, but in a world without electricity and brand-name stores, knowing how to make a pot would be a vital skill to have. You may enjoy gardening and planting flowers as a hobby when it’s convenient, but knowing how to grow food is a vital skill. You may enjoy fishing as a recreational pastime. Maybe you catch something, maybe you don’t, but knowing how to fish could actually feed your family and teach them how to do the same.
If you don’t think you have any natural vital skills to contribute to your existence — look deeper.
When my youngest daughter went off to college, she was all stressed out about what courses to take and what to major in. I told her not to worry about it, majors change, take the basics, discover things, and to go with her intuitive inner feelings and just do something she found interesting or that she really loved. She took glassblowing and pottery. Brilliant. I didn’t tell her exactly what to do. She just did it. It’s cool.
Glassblowing is like a lost art. It’s extremely rare. In a world without electricity, glassblowing would be a very valuable and vital trade skill. In a self-sustaining community, I’d want my kids on my team.
In order to be self-reliant and self-sustaining — you have to be willing to learn. Learning is a vital skill within itself. Isn’t it? Learning is the ability to adapt and maneuver through life experiences — to acquire skills. Vital skills are components to the overall whole of who you are and what you can do. You have to know what components you have, and you have to identify what components you need. What are they?
I ask these same questions to people at my workshops. They divide up into groups to pool together their creativity and vital skill sets as a unit. They usually have a pretty well-rounded set of skills as a group.
One of the most interesting answers that I received was, “harnessing electricity”. I asked people, “What could you do in a world without electricity?”, and one man said, “Harness it”. He actually knew how to build things to harness and generate electricity. I thought that was very clever, because electricity is a natural phenomenon that has been around since the beginning of time. Harnessing it hasn’t. Ingenuity is a quality. Ingenuity is a vital life skill. It’s the ability to be inventive and original. I’d want him on my team.
Some people with desk jobs like accountants and programmers had a hard time identifying their vital skills. They think too much. Mathematics are a vital skill. How many chickens do you need to produce enough eggs to feed 50 to 100 people three eggs for breakfast every morning for a year? It’s 54,750 to 109,500 eggs per year. Some hens can lay as many as 300 eggs per year. That means you’d need 182 to 365 hens. But that’s based on modern commercial hen egg-laying methods, and their egg-laying ability slows down after one year, and their lifespan is only 3 to 4 years — from being genetically modified and forced to lay as many eggs as they possibly can to serve human consumption (greed). And then, they’re chopped up.
What if you wanted happy chickens that weren’t forced to produce the perfectly imperfect egg? How many chickens would you need? How many hens would you need? How much space would you need to raise them organically? And how many roosters would you need in your hen house to keep your hens happy and keep their population going to produce more chickens and eggs? I don’t know.
If you’re the chickenman, how many eggs are worth a loaf of bread? If you’re the breadman, how many loaves of bread are worth a fish? If you’re the fisherman, how many fish are worth a pair of pants? If you are the tailor, how many pairs of pants are worth a dozen eggs? Do you see? It’s a symbiotic circle.
Vital life skills are trade skills. Trade skills have an intrinsic value. Answering and replying to emails for a living has no real intrinsic value. It’s superficial. Intrinsic value is that which is essential and natural to your existence. In a world without electricity, how many emails can you trade for a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, a supply of fish, or a pair of pants? None. Zero. Zip. The ability to communicate and reach understandings with others is what has an intrinsic value, not the technological device you use to do it.
Some of the actors, artists, entertainers, and musicians didn’t really think they had any real vital skills to contribute either, but the arts and performing arts are just as vital as anything else in life. It takes more than food and water to create a quality of life. It takes more than just physical grunt labor. What would life be like without beauty and creativity? A positive psychological attitude is a huge component to existence.
In a world without electricity, you wouldn’t have internet or television. In the old days, you listened to storytellers, you watched live plays and performances, or you would sit around the campfire singing songs with your friends for the weekend entertainment. Maybe we’ll do it again sometime.
© 2014 – Khris Krepcik
The Hooded Sage. All Rights Reserved.
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