So baby let’s sell your diamond ring
Buy some boots and faded jeans and go away
This coat and tie is choking me
In your high society you cry all day
We’ve been so busy keepin’ up with the Jones
Four-car garage and we’re still building on
Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of love
-Luckenbach Texas (Back to the Basics of Love) Waylon Jennings, 1977
Waylon’s powerful baritone in this anthem to the simple life is as unforgettable as the hard economic times the country faced in the late ‘70s. For those of us old enough to remember, getting back to the basics was more of a necessity than a choice for many Americans.
And now, more than 30 years later, here we go again. This country’s economic woes hang over us like the cloud that floated over Pigpen’s head in Charlie Brown. Skillful, dedicated workers are laid off, houses are lost and lives, if not ruined, are horribly disrupted.
Unless you’re a believer in the apocalypse, you can trace the history of the world as a series of bad times followed by good times. The Dark Ages and the Renaissance. The American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era. Through it all, humans have thrived when they could and endured when they had to.
Some say we wouldn’t know or appreciate prosperity without hardship. In fact, if there’s a bright spot, coping with adversity can bring out people’s better qualities. Entrepreneurship takes off. Thriftiness becomes admirable. And there’s a new yearning and appreciation for the simpler things in life. The love of our friends and family. The feeling of being connected to nature. Traits that will help us regain our foothold in our quest for success.
We’re already seeing signs that this idea of getting back to the basics is catching on. There’s an Allstate Commercial where Dennis Haysbert reminds us America has endured 12 recessions since the Great Depression. Haysbert’s voiceover “After the fear subsides …people start enjoying the small things in life” is underscored by photos of families enjoying a home cooked meal and young boys shooting hoops in the driveway. I don’t usually rave on commercials, but this one is spectacularly done because it recognizes the pendulum effect of our economy and reminds us of our resilience.
A 2009 TripAdvisor travel survey verifies that this return to the basics is not just something you’ll see in a commercial. One of the primary trends identified is people are planning to enjoy the outdoors. A whopping 73 percent of respondents said they plan to visit a national park while 53 percent plan to go hiking.
Camping is also on America’s agenda this year as attendance and sales were up at recent RV shows in Michigan, Maryland, Utah and Florida. It’s a buyer’s market now and even with the cost of an RV, camping is still 27 to 61 percent less expensive than other types of vacations.
News such as this begs the question, will more people also hunt? A reference to a study in the book “The Future of Hunting and Shooting Sports” suggests there’s a correlation between new housing starts and license sales. The study looked at 43 variables including economic data and found that as new housing starts increased, the sale of hunting licenses decreased. This could be the result of a couple of different factors: urbanization takes away hunting land or access to it and/or increased construction activity leaves less time for hunting (another part of the study found many hunters are in the construction business).
Doesn’t it stand to reason that if housing starts decrease then hunting and fishing license sales will increase? While researchers may not have the answer to that one yet, it sounds logical. And hopefully it would have a snowball effect as men (who make up the majority of hunters and anglers), would introduce their wives, girlfriends, sons and daughters to the woods and waters.
Hunting and fishing are great back-to-the-basics activities because not only will you enjoy the time spent outdoors, you can fill your freezer with healthy, nutritious meat that any locavore would love.
That reminds me of another classic country song by Hank Williams, Jr. Released in 1981, “Country Boy Can Survive” is an ode to survival and self sufficiency that rose to the top of the charts when times were tough in America. For many, the message still resonates today.
And we can skin a buck; we can run a trot-line
And a country boy can survive
Come to think of it, so can a country girl.
This is a difficult period for many Americans. But have faith. Plant a garden this spring. Go turkey hunting. Enjoy a picnic at a nearby state park. Watch the birds at your feeder. Catch a fish. And live like you mean it.