"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Gently, gently... (part 2)

Again, I start this post by saying I am not trying to offend anyone - these are merely my thoughts and ramblings.  And my feedback on the have / have not lifestyle we have adopted.

My deep pondering of last week has led to thoughts on how else this planet came to be the position that it now finds itself.

Between the extreme temperatures, droughts / fires last year in America, and in Australia this year, as well as the blizzard which Boston, USA experienced at the end of last week and which it has not experience with such severity since the 1970's, I don't think that there are many out there who will deny that something is definitely screwy with our weather.  Global warming?  Extreme weather cycles?  Who knows.  But something is out of kilter.

Whilst writing my previous post I caught myself thinking what on Earth are we, the inhabitants of Earth, doing?  And doing in the so-called name of technology.  In the name of inventiveness.  In the name of saving time and effort?  In the name of economics?  In the name of self-indulgence? 

Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of new inventions.  But those inventions which actually benefit mankind, not the ones which are basically just trendy gadgets with a limited lifespan and which take up huge resources in their manufacture.

Take China for example.  They have no qualms in "copying" an item which carries European / USA patents - guess the logistics of patenting something in China is over the top?!  But, why do they need to copy the item, if it is already available? Because they can make it cheaper?  And then flood the market with their "Made in China" goods, which seldom match the quality of the original?

But, could this not be the result of the chaos which exists today?  The seemingly worldwide trend of "I must have the latest"?

For with all our mod-cons, all our time saving devices, all our fashion trends - are we any better off?  Are we cleverer - or lazier?  Are we able to save time - and what are we saving it for?  We're not doing more than we used to.  Are we?
Image source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangle_(machine)
What we are doing is saying, because I have a machine which can perform the task I need done, I can sit back and relax - "it's tiring putting washing into a machine, then shoving it in a tumble dryer or hanging it up and taking it down, ironing (well, some of you may do so - I don't LOL) it before putting it away".  Our parents (I'm showing my age here LOL) didn't have our modern gadgets to make their day easier, but they didn't do a whole lot less than we are doing now.  They had to fill the machine with water, allow it it agitate before draining it, and refilling it with fresh water to rinse the clothes.  Then they put the clothes through a mangle to squeeze them, before hanging them up on the line to dry.  No tumble dryers. 

But, even with all these wonder machines, we don't sit back and relax.  Why?  What are we filling our lives with busy-ness for?
Fracking - draining the very last reserves out of
Mother Earth
And, apart from our excessive consumption and hysterical mass production, are we not also polluting the ground and waterways with our chemical use - be they for :

 ~ pest prevention and fertilizing of crops;
 ~ for household "cleaning";
 ~ additives to foodstuffs to "make them last longer / stay fresher";
 ~ extracting, at great depth, the very last that the earth has to offer us;
 ~ or even the factories which are expelling them into the very air and water which makes our planet inhabitable by not only us homo sapiens (who are basically just advanced forms of animals, and in some cases not so advanced either LOL) but also by all the creatures who co-exist alongside us - or try to.

And as for fashion trends - is that not something which has been invented by manufacturers / tailors / clothing chain stores in order to sell more of their goods.  Why on God's planet, should it be important to have the latest cell phone / wear the latest fashion every season / year? What is wrong with last years cell phone / clothing.  Or the year before that?  Has it become the "thing" because if you don't keep up to date, you're not a successful business person?  And ditto for having the newest model vehicle or the most up-to-date appliances in your home / office.  Does it all boil down to "what do / will people think of me"?  It's crazy!

Why and when did we adopt consumer driven lifestyles - and, judging from reactions visible on the TV on far too many nights - allow that to dictate our feelings of happiness?  I mean, queuing up overnight outside a store in order to secure a "must-have" book or the latest electronic gadget as it's made available.  I wonder if those people have ever considered the implications of the importance they are attaching to those items, which will be so readily discarded when the next model makes its' appearance.

When did we humans lose the ability to experience authentic happiness?  Happiness from our roots.  From the ground up?  Happiness that we feel within us on a daily basis?  And happiness which is due to something other than an item we've purchased which makes us "feel good"?  Was it when we sold ourselves to laud the growth of economics?  Are we guilty of encouraging economies to expand beyond our basic needs?  Or have the corporations instilled this "want" in us through their advertising campaigns or movies through their high-faluting set dressing?

The race to sell more / have more / earn more?  Has that caused the chaos, disgruntled "poor me" attitude which is prevalent in society today, and the disregard for the long term consequences of our thoughtless actions.

I am fortunate because RMan and I have been able to "step back".  In November this year we will have been married for 33 years.  And at this precise moment in time we own less electrical / electronic gadgets than we did on our wedding day.  The some total of our "must have" items are:

a TV and local pay-to-view transmitter - we very rarely ( once or twice year) eat out, and we never go to movies / theatre.
A fridge.
A washing machine - powered by the genny once or twice a week.
A couple of side lights.
A hairdryer which is briefly powered by the genny once or twice a week in winter.  Summer - the hair just drips dry LOL
A charger for our cell phones and a computer.
And RMan has a couple of vital handyman tools.

I certainly don't miss a microwave (a pot over boiling water does the job more than adequately), an electric kettle or toaster (our 2 plate caravan LPG stove performs both those functions), the hated iron, heaters, air conditioners, ceiling fans, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, tumble dryer, etc...  To be honest, the only "gadget" I do miss is a stand alone freezer - but our current solar set-up does not make provision for that 365 24-hours-a-day energy guzzler, and the contents of it will not understand a couple of overcast days ( = losing all power in the middle of the night when our battery storage falls too low).  Would be nice to freeze our excess garden produce though...
Simple non-electric kitchen implements -
they actually give me time - for myself :)
I revel in using my eco-friendly kitchen implements - a handheld beater / whisk, an egg timer which uses sand to tick by the seconds / minutes, a manual coffee plunger, a wooden orange / lemon squeezer, hand operated grinders, my ice trays which fit in the purpose designed section of my freezer, my precious solar oven and even my hand operated kitchen food processor, to name but a few - because they all actually give me more time!  And they reduce my use and demand of electricity.
My manual food processor - it works a treat :)
They give me time to dream, think, plan - to give of myself in order to create.

And these hand operated items are a damned sight easier to clean than similar modern time saving gadgets for which one sometimes almost needs a degree in order to dismantle.

Sure, those other appliances I could not run on our current limited solar power, but I don't miss them.  Not a single one on a single day.  And I wouldn't go back to "normal" in order to do so either.  I love the simplicity of our lifestyle, and can't comprehend why it took us so long to adopt it / revert back.  I feel somehow free-er.  Does that make sense? :)
A home grown salad - there is nothing to beat the taste
Similarly growing our own vegetables gives both Rman and I the assurance that what we are eating does not contain anything other than the water it took to encourage them to grow.  Even if they have a nibble out here, and a munch out there...  Becoming more and more self-sufficient can only make us wiser, more contented people.  However that self-sufficiency has a limitation for we both have a problem with killing animals - even if they are reared for consumption.  We're too soft LOL

Local knowledge is priceless, and ancient local knowledge even more so.  As the San people today keep their heritage alive through their story telling whilst living by choice in their harsh desert environment, so, too, should we be aware that future generations will be lost without our safeguarding the knowledge of their roots, their beginnings and their indebtedness to this planet.  Do we take the time to remember and to consider how to preserve all that knowledge in our hurly-burly days? 

We need to be aware of the consequences - our eco-footprint - which we are leaving behind for future generations to handle.  And we need to relearn how to treat ourselves, and our Earthly Home, in a gentler way.

After all, what is the rush?

8 comments:

  1. The earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed ~ Gandhi

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  2. Dani I agree with all your thoughts. We have stepped back too and attempt to step further and further back. As for climate change, the Aust. Govt. have put out a report that I'd love you to read. According to the report it's official. We are contending with climate change. www.climatecommission.gov.au/report/off-charts-extreme-january-heat-2013

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    1. Linda - S'funny - I don't consider what we are doing as regressing backwards in time or denying technology it's rightful place. It's more a case of making do with less electronic noise, and reducing our dependency on equipment that may need (major) repairs in the future, thereby also, hopefully, saving the unnecessary spending that goes with that.

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  3. We're not homesteading, but we do think the world can be changed even along the lines of a few small commitments like some that we've made around here. We grow lots of food in our back yard, we dry our clothes on the line and catch the rain water that falls on our roof. Just think how great an impact even these small commitments, done by everyone, could change our energy consumption in the world!

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    1. Jody - I couldn't agree with you more. All it's going to take everyone making that small commitment. That's where you and I and others come in - we have to lead the way by example, and show them the results of what we do. Seems the only way lessons are learned is through physical proof, as opposed to theory. And blogging is an excellent way of international communication - or so I have found.

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  4. I think part of the problem is people not making choices with their leisure time - everyone seems to want to try everything -and to try and cram it all into one lifetime there is a need to rush around and do their daily living at breakneck speed with the latest, quickest gadget to help them. They don't stop and smell the roses they race past and try to have a quick whiff of every plant in the garden and so they appreciate none of them properly. I'm a terrible time waster as I can sit in the garden for half an hour and watch the bees go from flower to flower so I can pick vegetables in a few days/weeks or admire the precision workmanship of a spider making it's web and helping to keep my garden pest problems to controllable levels.

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    1. Robyn - Giggle - I'm picturing a massive ant colony populated by humans - all rushing round, bumping into each other, mindlessly following scent trails.

      Taking time to observe nature is not time wasting - it's experiencing what it has to offer and appreciating how it provides for us - be that in the form of shade, fruit, vegetables, flowers, inspiration or a planet that is, currently, allowing the human race to survive.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment - it makes my day and removes the "loneliness' of sitting at my screen blogging supposedly to myself ;)