Thursday, September 13, 2012
:: A Less Complicated Life ::
I read blog posts and articles about people who set about living a 'simple' life, only to find that there is nothing 'simple' about it. I think slow living or simple living actually requires a whole bunch of potentially complicated actions (sometimes done quite quickly), that often come about from rejecting convenience. Convenience makes things easier, physically and mentally. It means more time to do stuff of our own choosing. Stuff that is fun, and perhaps (as people believe) more fulfilling. Convenience is a whole bunch of short cuts, however, that can cut out the good parts. It might leave us with more time and energy that we can fill in with fun and fulfilling activities, that's true (I understand the appeal). I partake in convenience when it suits me (everyday in so many ways), and on occasion, feel nicely guilty about it too. Only on occasion. I am not knocking those who desire just a little bit of darn time to themselves. I am one of them. I am not upset at my accomplices in carrying out the dirty deed that is convenience, because I appreciate my washing machine, dishwasher and microwave, and all the hard work they do. Convenience is like a sister, or friend that buoys you up, keeps you going, makes you think anything is possible, and doesn't judge you when you just want to get take away for dinner that night. Convenience allows me to do other things the long way, the hard way instead, like growing vegetables from seed.
Convenience... the personal assistant to our modern lifestyle. Some choose to forego convenience (probably not completely, if you are someone reading this blog) which can mean foregoing the hobbies we might like to pursue, even if those hobbies might seemingly fit quite well into a simple life. These might be practising and learning more crochet. If you are going to give some or all of those hobbies up (or even make other sacrifices, say sleep, or relaxation time) it means you've got to find the positive in doing things the long and hard way. The good parts of doing stuff the longer and harder way are what attract people to pursue this simple life we talk about. The good parts are satisfying, even when they are hard. The good parts are enriching, even when they challenge you (or because they challenge you). The good parts connect us to nature, connect us to each other, make us appreciate life, help us understand and empower us. Like the fulfillment in growing your own vegetables, turning them into a delicious meal, turning the scraps into compost, and using the compost to grow your own vegetables. That turns me on!
The other part of the simple living gig (and I don't even know if I would put my life into the 'simple living' category... that I'd even class myself amongst those whose great blog posts and articles I mentioned that I have read previously) that I have found to actually be complicated, is saying no. Keeping my life less complicated so I can focus on what I've deemed to be important, means standing up for myself and my choices. The complication comes from wanting to be involved, to do my part, to follow all my passions, and yet knowing doing that will surely be my undoing in the end. So I say no. I cannot be on your school committee, because I would rather spend my time at home, with my kids, in our garden. I cannot be a guest blogger on your fabulous real food blog, because I need to be in my kitchen, fermenting and preserving and preparing real food for my family, not coming up with recipes and photos and content for others to enjoy instead. I will not be able to spend time weeding your school garden and conditioning your garden beds, when you have perfectly capable students who should be learning to appreciate that getting the benefits and fun parts of the garden, means time spent putting in the hard yakka. They should be learning how to find the pleasure in the task, even when it is harder than they thought, or taking longer than they wish (or because of it).
This is a lesson that will benefit your students long after the snow peas have been harvested. Who am I to deny them the opportunity for all that learning, when it would be better for me to say no, and go back to my own weeding and reconditioning. Even though I feel that I could, I won't. Saying no is hard. Relying on convenience to get us through the week because I overcommitted myself is harder. A simple life may be a daydream I'd have if I had the time for daydreaming, but a life less complicated is perfectly possible.