Almost 4 years ago we moved from one coast to the other and our lives changed in a lot of ways. One was a huge cut to our overall income. This put us on a different path, and I honestly feel like we are much better for it.
It is easy from time to time to get off the path. Sometimes less important things or people creep in and cause a lot of distraction and I forget the end goals.
Recently I joined a discussion group on Voluntary Simplicity organized by Jillian. She wrote a great post about it which I strongly suggest you read if this sort of thing strikes your fancy. I had to miss the first two meetings but I have done all of the readings and really like the course so far.
Week Three’s topic was work. Just in our small group I realized that I am in a minority (I think) when it comes to how I view satisfying work. To me work is very physical. If I’m not manipulating things it doesn’t seem very gratifying.
Most of my “work” now belongs to the things I do at home. It isn’t necessarily the most fun, and I’m certainly not getting evaluated on it or anything, but it’s important and I take pride in it.
I enjoy baking bread and making our Christmas gifts and sewing Halloween costumes. In a minute I’ll start working on chicken pot pie for dinner, but I already made the crust this morning with Jack. There will be something more special about dinner, because I made it myself. I put time and energy and thought into it, and to me that’s valuable work.
In the course of the discussion I mentioned skillful work and that I think it’s important for everyone to have some form of skill. You should have something you are good at that you could use to help you trade for some other good or service, if necessary.
Oddly, when I brought this up a woman in the group said, “Whoa this is sounding a little bit Tea Partyish if you ask me.” Whoa. Ok, I know not everyone has the same perspective as me, but when I think Voluntary Simplicity I think of living with minimal inputs, closer to nature, low tech.
People seem to forget that our “modern” way of life has been very brief when you look at the history of humans over time. It is amazing and interesting to be alive during this area, but there’s no way to sustain it for the long haul.
I want to put forth the energy and the time to learn skills that should not have been forgotten in the first place. I don’t choose to learn chicken butchery because I think it’ll be as fun as a walk in the woods. I do it because it empowers me and it adds to my own ability to sustain myself and my family.
Voluntary Simplicity, to me, is living with technology and modern life in a way that is fulfilling, not all encompassing. To be thankful and grateful for all that the modern world can do for us but to still be able to put up your own food, whether you choose to or not.
I’m not sure exactly how that has anything to do with people who can’t understand why we need taxes for roads and fire departments, but I guess everyone is allowed to have their own opinions.
(The course is through Northwest Earth Institute if you want to check it out.)