Ask Umbra’s Book Club: The three L’s — laziness, learning, and lawlessness
You know, I couldn’t help but notice how often Freed talks about the basis for her and her father’s lifestyle choice being that they are lazy. Tending a garden, raising bunnies, foraging for found edibles, distilling liquor, canning and preserving food, cooking, running, fishing, chopping wood, reading—to me, that doesn’t sound like laziness. What are your thoughts? Why do you think Freed considers herself to be lazy?
In that same vein, Freed’s father “thinks compulsory education is a fraud—nothing but glorified babysitting,” allowing her to quit school in seventh grade. Freed comes across in the book as a confident and bright, if a bit rough around the edges, teenager, and we know that she went on to ace the SATs, put herself through college, and become a NASA aerospace engineer, environmental educator, business owner, and college professor. However, do you think her father did her an injustice by allowing her to drop out of school? Or did he give her a greater gift than a conventional education?
For me, it was reminiscent of the Paskowitz family, whose story was detailed in the 2007 documentary Surfwise. Dorian and his wife, Juliette, raise their nine children in a small camper—the kids never attended school and were forced to adhere to a strict diet and surfing regimen. I had a difficult time discerning whether the now-adult children were better or worse off for their unconventional upbringing. How about Dolly Freed? What do you think?
And speaking of learning from our elders, what was your take on the Law chapter? Were you pleased to see as a footnote (in the newest edition) that an older and wiser Dolly Freed no longer agrees with what she wrote in this chapter?