In these bodies we will live,
in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love,
you invest your life
- Mumford and Sons
We live in a world of outsourcing. From the cradle to the grave, we have an endless stream of services to take care of us and our loved ones, from the TV babysitter, through nightly dinners of preprepared carrots and ready-seasoned chicken, to the heart specialists that put us back together when we have consumed too much, burnt through too much cortisol and not moved enough. If they fail? We have the undertaker to take care of our dead. The maintenance of humans has been outsourced.
The most frugal among us have so much 'stuff' - and the means to acquire more - that only the wealthiest of households would have had 60 years ago. For all our household conveniences - we have just upped the level of day to day maintenance actually required to run our lives. We don't produce it ourselves much these days - we have a whole country of cheap labour east of here to do that for us. And when we take delivery of it, we do our best to avoid maintaining it - by throwing more money and stuff and time at it.
The things we have, inspite of all our mod cons, seem to require much more maintenance. My great grandmother didn't have wall to wall carpeting, and a worktop food processor complete with 48 hard to clean attachments. She had wood or stone floors and a broom, mop and a rug beater. A knife and a whisk are sufficient food processors if you have to work 40 hours to buy a kitchen aid that you rarely use because you hate to clean it. Her laundry day was hard graft - but I suspect she actually washed a lot less stuff and she wore an apron daily to reduce the number of clothes she got through. We have a hoover, a steam cleaner and biannual use of a carpet washer. All of them are ugly and take up a lot of space. And all of them need to be wiped over and cleaned themselves occasionally. Meanwhile, I still make use of a mop and broom and rug beater for other areas of the house.
It seems the whole of modern life is an attempt to escape the maintenance to get to the fun. But the 'fun' comes at a huge price, if it comes at all. Only the super rich who can outsource everything with no care for money or paid employment have a hope of escaping this. For the rest of us - the adverts lie. And none of us can escape the environmental costs wrought by our increasingly disposable, frantic lives. More stuff, more disposable, cheaply built stuff, is wreaking havoc with our planet and our quality of life.
Over the last few years I have taken back that which is mine to maintain. I love maintaining my humans and I love the beauty of a garden in full bloom - healthy allotment produce for the win. Laundry is much easier when you love the clothes that you are laundering. Keeping your home tidy is much more enjoyable when you think the furniture is beautiful and the textiles are worth looking after - especially so if you have poured your creativity and time into making them or refurbishing them. None of this has to cost a lot of money. I like doing a little handwashing now and again so a few delicate hand knits only add to my enjoyment of life. I love sweeping and I hate hoovering - guess who won't be having wall to wall carpet in our forever house.
I think this sums up simple living in a nutshell. The motivating values for everyone may be different, but the result is the same - the taking back of the day to day maintenance of our lives and fully embracing it, appreciating it and aligning it with our values as much as is possible - and realising that there is more room for fun and excitement when you spend less time running away from life. Life is maintenace, so you might as well make a life worth maintaining.