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.