Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Choosing a Simple Life

I broach this subject carefully. It's a stretch to say that anybody in the U.S.A. really lives a simple life. We don't live in dirt-floor huts. We have more than one pair of shoes and two changes of clothes. So, I'll qualify -- we want to choose a simple life by U.S. standards.

By U.S. standards, having a house with one bathroom is simple living. Having one vehicle to drive is simple living. Doing without a dishwasher is simple living. (I realize this might sound ludicrous to some.) We want to use a clothesline, not a dryer. We want screen doors and fans, not central air. These are some choices we've made now.

But is it simple living to till a field? Grow your own food? Repair your own buildings? Mow with a scythe? None of those are easy; are they simple? Perhaps we must consider what we mean by the term "simple."

What happens when a family has one bathroom? What happens when I and my husband don't have our own bathroom -- or more specifically, when I don't have my own bathroom (since we all know that husbands don't own a bathroom like wives do)? I can't camp out in the bathroom as I used to. We three women in this house really share the bathroom. We go in; we come out. We all put our make-up and hair stuff together. We share. A bathroom is a place to pamper oneself. A private bathroom is a true luxury for self-pampering. This is not a criticism of anybody who has a bathroom to herself (please do not take it so!), but I will state that sharing one bathroom with three other people means I don't pamper myself physically, don't groom, don't camp out, don't close the door and view that room as my private get-away. It changes how the family relates.

Hand-washing dishes also subtly changes family interactions. Not using central air, and managing with one vehicle (inconvenient as it is), and hanging clothes on the line -- all are slightly inconvenient. All require us to work with each other.

Some choices are made to save money. Some are made for health reasons. Some are made simply to encourage closer family living. We are quite new at much of this, and I'm not sure we've thoroughly fleshed out our philosophy. But I will say that I dislike consumption for consumption's sake, buying for buying's sake, materialism as if materialism were good. I believe at some point we humans have strayed from the good path of honest, simple living in family settings near the earth. I know I prefer a rural life; not everyone does. But how far removed should we let ourselves be from the sources of our own living? From soil and animals and plants and air and water? And the rampant increase in some diseases in the past 50 or 100 years -- is it connected to this distance we've created from our own food, consuming chemicals and calling it food?

It isn't simple to remove oneself from the U.S. "food grid," as it's called, but we hope to do it as much as possible. This is a primary goal of having Red Red Farm. Only the years ahead will tell if we succeed.

9 comments:

  1. It's a wonderful goal! Have fun getting there! :)

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  2. I applaud your aims. I don't have any of those things (the luxurious version like the dishwasher, second car, air con etc) and I don't mind it-I prefer it in most cases. But I do of course exhibit overconsumption in other ways-namely clothes. I do need to change my ways-it is too much, I agree.Xx

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  3. DH and I lived a somewhat simple life our whole marriage (43 years) and I still live that way without him.

    Our cottage is tiny 675 sq. ft., we do have some outbuildings though. We have one bathroom, I've always washed dishes by hand, laundry hung out on the lines, we have one, room a.c. that cools the whole place, and ceiling fans. We had two vehicles, but when he left this planet for his heavenly abode, I got rid of one and now have just the Ford Econline van, which is great for hauling things from Home Depot, or from curbside shopping. :-)

    May you and your family enjoy your choice of 'simple living' and be blessed.

    FlowerLady

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  4. Simple living isn't always simple (easy) but there are rewards and great satisfaction in staying close to the earth and knowing where your food comes from. I wish you all the best as you jump into this new adventure.
    ~Jody

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  5. M.K., you describe a way of life I'd very much like to live, but we are not there. I bury myself in old books, and live the life vicariously. But even in our large house with AC and dishwasher, and 2 1/2 baths, there are other ways that I've found to live more simply -- turning off the TV, canceling magazine subscriptions, limiting internet time (all this reduces information overload), cutting down on outside commitments and busyness that make you look important but are draining, cooking from scratch, having less clothes, letting my hair go gray, re-learning to knit and do other old-time-y crafts, etc. I can't claim to live a simple life in comparison to most of the world, but I do what I can to limit the noise, excess, waste, etc., because the most important thing is that we are slowed down enough to hear the voice of our Savior. That to me seems the point. The closer we are to the simple things, to nature, to each other, the more clearly we can hear His voice.
    I love that you are on this journey, and will watch with interest!

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  6. Yes. I so agree. I think I'd draw the line at the a/c, though, esp. in this part of the South. :) I do love, however, when the power goes out, and we don't have the buzz of appliances in the background. You go girl.

    Btw, one bathroom and no dishwasher, one vehicle here. ;)

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  7. Yes, it is WORK to live a simple life. : )
    I guess I like my comforts too much to live the simple life. : ) I do wash dishes by hand, don't have AC or a dryer though.

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  8. MK, I read this last week and have been pondering ever since. Dave had a saying, "Where you stand depends upon where you sit" and I think this is true of your post. I know people who still have outdoor toilets and a pump for water. It's been within the last 15 years folks I know got electricity and that's still true for sections of this country. I have friends whose children wear thrift store clothes, have duct tape holding together their sneakers and the teenagers receive no gifts at Christmas so the little ones can get something. You might call it a simple life but they call it poor.
    I'm doing my best to sell this huge farmhouse and buy something smaller but do I want to sell a vehicle? Nope. I would like to sell a couple of campers though. -lol-
    What's simple?
    Depends upon where you sit, me thinks.

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