The physicality of simple living

“Drink water. Sweat. Eat well. Be happy”

Graffiti on a wall

A simple solution is elegant. It is very enjoyable to figure out a shortcut or a simpler way to do something.

Fools take simple ideas and make them complex. Intelligence is taking complex material and making it simple and accessible to everyone.

We are always looking for simpler, cleaner and easier ways to do things. Sometimes we realise that the simplest solution is just to eliminate the something from our lives completely.

It is not very often that we revert to a more complicated process after trialing the simpler one. In fact we have gained much more in our lives by taking away than we ever gained through addition.

We try to cook simple meals based around low cost groceries or produce that we have grown. Each time we cook we make enough so that we don’t have to cook the next night. We have de-cluttered our kitchen and removed many appliances.

Our laundry routine is very simple. We re-wear clothes until they need to be washed. When they are to be washed we put them into a wicker basket in the laundry. Once the basket is full we wash it in cold water. We line dry the clothes then fold them and put them away. It can only become simpler when we forfeit the electric washing machine.

This highlights a trend in our household where simpler for us involves turning back to simple reliable tools and methods that have been part of the wisdom of the village for a millennium.  In one way our life is not simpler though. Virtually all of the low-tech living techniques are less convenient. This requires us to employ ourselves physically instead of flicking over a switch on the machine and walking away.  Some examples of the physicality of simple living include choosing to power a bicycle (active) over riding in a car (passive), choosing the whisk over the electric beater, the knife over the food processor, the hand drill over the power drill, the scythe and shears over the petrol weed whacker, the cast iron skillet over an electric wok, the axe over the chainsaw, the ukulele over the television and the stairs over the elevator or escalator.

We are also considering a handmill to turn wheat berries into flour for pasta and bread, but we don’t think we eat either enough to warrant the effort of finding a second-hand handmill.

Why are we doing this? Turning our backs on convenience while the rest of the world is waiting for a robot that can defecate for them while they sit in a comfy chair and watch re-runs of Jeopardy?

Answer: Because it has made our life more fun and far more interesting!

How do we find the time or the energy?

Quite simply we have turned off the TV and now we have an abundance of time. We have sold our mobile phones and other time stealing equipment as well. We have started gradually and not been shy to turn back to technology if the effort is too great or our hands are too unskilled. We have also ensured that the process is enjoyable and we have celebrated the rewards. A car is very functional. The reward is the destination, but with a bicycle the journey is the enjoyment and the reward is had in the travelling.

In many ways I have never worked as hard as I have since choosing the simple life of the idler.

I have also never been as happy and gained so much enjoyment from simple pleasures as I do of late.

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