As I sift through what homesteading activities mean the most to me, I can definitely state that the canning part of it is here to stay. I love the preserves, tomatoes, and pie fillings I'm able to put up, in season. Anything that comes out of my canner tastes about 100 times better than the replacement item I'd buy in the store. I can be picky about the fruit and vegetables I choose to throw into whatever I'm making, which I can't do if I buy a canned or bottled product that someone has already made.
I occasionally read a blog written by a woman who lives alone and lives the homesteading lifestyle, and she was saying this morning that she stayed up all night keeping the fires in her wood stoves stoked so the temperature inside the farmhouse wouldn't drop below the 40's or 50's. She talked about how thankful she was to not have central heating, because she felt the way she was living was more authentic.
It gave me pause, because I do not agree about this sort of extreme, Colonial Williamsburg kind of "authenticity," and I depart from many hard-line homesteaders on this. If I have central heat, I may not use it as often as my Modern Living neighbors, but I do use it. It's on right now. I will heat my house up to about 70 degrees this morning and then shut it off, crank up our pellet stove and let it keep us warm until this time tomorrow morning, when I will crank up the central heating once again for an hour or so. It's a system that works, it's inexpensive, and it keeps us comfortable.
A lot of people who heat with wood have not even thought of the fact that, if everyone heated with wood alone, there would be no more wood for their woodstoves because the forests would all be cut down by their neighbors, in order to quell their own appetite for heat. Then they'd be reeeeeally cold. So the practicality of practicing an "authentic" lifestyle en masse is even more questionable than the practice of it as an army of one family, here and there.
But I like to can, I like to grow food, and I like to limit my gasoline and electricity consumption, because those are things I find valuable. So I do those things, and I no longer feel guilty about the things I don't do.
Everyone should know what to do to survive in primitive conditions; I certainly believe that. But that doesn't have to mean you live in them now. Maybe it has something to do with being 50, but I have little tolerance for suffering for the sake of suffering or to prove to yourself or a public that you can. And if you're trying to sleep in a freezing house, you're suffering, whether you care to admit it or not.
Perhaps the greatest thing about getting old is knowing you have the right to not participate in something, and feeling perfectly comfortable in not doing whatever it is. Because it's not only in the doing, but also in the not-doing, that contentment and happiness (not to mention comfort) are found.