Merriam-Webster defines Renaissance Man as “n. a person who has wide interests and is expert in several areas
To be a Renaissance Woman
I am a person who studies a broad array of topics. I want to learn about a lot of different things. But, I want to gain skills too – learn how to rewire a house, build a fence, bike, climb, knit, hunt, pilot an airplane, or whatever. In the book, Early Retirement Extreme, A philosophical guide to financial independence, Jacob Lund Fisker describes a person who learns to do things like these and it is what caught my interest along with a possibly more pleasurable way of living without depending on a job.
Any woman can do this too, so is born, the Renaissance Woman.
I’ve reread it a few times after picking it up a decade ago in my efforts to get off the treadmill and change my life to be less dependent on the job. I was inspired by his bare bones frugality and it speaks to my frustration with how illogical and wasteful our lifestyle seems. Working so many hours that you have to spend a good portion of the money to support your habit of working so many hours.
In the book, he redefines a Renaissance Man (and also Woman now) to describe a person who is less dependent on a job because they have a broad array of interests and can do much of what he needs to do for himself. He modernizes his version of a Renaissance Wo/Man to include cooking and sewing and other things such as repair a bike or a car or do the plumbing. But also include some of the studies that a traditional Renaissance Man did. Since this new Renaissance Wo/Man supposedly has more time, they have time to get very good at a musical instrument, a language or a scientific discipline for instance.
That made me think of Homesteading. Recently I have been watching a show where a very charming woman shows us all how to Homestead. Homesteading being the practice of growing your own vegetables, keeping chickens and pigs and otherwise doing your best to live off what you can do and make yourself, including building your own cabin. She talks about how homesteading can be a frugal way of living that takes you away from having to get a full time job and allows you to enjoy life more.
I thought about how my efforts to gain practical homemaking, repair, and building skills have been a fun hobby. But, I realized that this way of living can also be a job. Which sounds obvious, but when you are adding on fun homesteading tasks to a modern work day and a busy life, it doesn’t sound at all possible at first!
Homesteading vs. Early Retirement Extreme
Homesteading, as I understand it, is practiced on a larger chunk of land, further away from the center of town, or often, way out in the countryside. Early Retirement Extreme-rs live closer to town or in the city. It allows a very frugal person to take advantage of being able to walk or bike anywhere, to find people to share living costs and to borrow or buy tools and less expensive supplies when they need them.
Maybe you can get the best of both worlds and build a homestead closer to town. It will allow you to enjoy camaraderie of like minded fixers, makers and frugals which makes the process a ton more fun and you don’t have to specialize in darned near everything like you would for a remote homestead location.
Both philosophies don’t take into account all the complexities of life. Of course they can’t, they are too complex!
But, as a person who grew up in the 80’s in an upper middle class lifestyle where I taught myself (much to my mothers dismay) to buy stuff to solve every. single. problem, these philosophies are a welcome inspiration to find ways to do things, or do without things in order to enhance my life and engage in it more.
So, I challenge people to become a Renaissance Woman or Man and engage and enjoy life more!