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In today's episode on RH TV the term "simpler life" appears a couple of times during Joe's interview with Mrs. Glenda Lehmann Ervin. While we probably all understand what is really meant, we should be aware that the term is misleading. What is simpler - buying bread in the store or baking it yourself, throwing clothes in the washing-machine and then dryer or washing them by hand, putting them on the clothes line and ironing them , to give just two domestic examples? Same goes for many outside activities, what's simpler, mowing with a mower or a scythe, heating the house by turning on the thermostat or heating with wood? I can easily show that the skills on the individual level had to be much higher when we were not so dependent on purchased items and that therefore people had a much greater level of self-sufficiency and independence. That is probably what more people would like to have again when they look for a 'simpler life', which was neither easy nor simple.
Today we have a very complicated system (as opposed to the 'simple life' of yesteryore) , in which it takes the actions of many different entities to provide us with the amenities we enjoy, which make life much easier in many ways, but also much more vulnerable to disruptions. Think about traffic in snow storms when horses moved everything compared to the snarls , even standstill we experience today. Horses were slowed down, but not immobilized. Even scarier is our dependence on electricity: Imagine not having it for a longer period of time, maybe over large swaths of the country, as multiple hackers are trying to break into our systems every day. Experts say it is not a question of 'if', but only of 'when'. Pandemonium would (will) ensue and the lives of many millions would be uprooted, in many cases ended.
And while we certainly have great benefits from technological progress, many dangers are lurking just around the corner.
That probably also explains the longing for a 'simpler life', the knowledge that there was a time during which at least the average household was not so dependent on other parts of the economy.
I myself have over the years bought several items from Lehmann's and am getting their catalogues every year.

Redgate says 2018-04-14 22:39:23 (CST)

Klaus, I have found myself pondering that very thought recently.....usually as I sit behind my team as we complete the day’s task. You are so right, in that it is not a simple answer at all. I fully agree with your theory of dependency vs. self-sufficiency likely being the underlying thought behind the term. I also see it as a dream folks have to simply get back to a more agrarian lifestyle in general. However it is done—modern technology or age-old manual labor— the ability to wake in the morning, trust in God to meet your needs, complete the day’s tasks, put food on the table, provide for the family, commune a bit with nature along the way, and go to bed with a sense of accomplishment and bone-tired fulfillment....that is what I lean towards as a definition.

I was born and raised a military brat, and then married a military officer. He was an experimental test pilot, flying some of the latest and greatest technology America had to offer. When he retired, we started living the dream. Our dream, at least. Many times, I have told folks that we work way harder now than we ever did as we ran the rat race, meeting his deadlines, shuttling him around the world, dealing with typical “city” obligations and responsibilities, and so forth. In addition to our biological children, we adopted several, some of which required therapy appts and doctor appointments on a weekly basis for a while. Now, though, it just FEELS simpler somehow. Therapy was replaced with rough terrain and outdoor activities that forced the children to use their bodies as necessary to get where they wanted to go—and with tremendous success! I can also assume it has to do with not having the boss looking over our shoulders, mother nature being only real deadlines to meet (ie in the gardens), and although busier, no doubt it can be attributed in part to the slower pace I find when I sit behind the team. Every time I stop the team to rest for a bit, I am forced to take a moment to reflect, to look around me at God’s creation, to hear the sounds, and use my senses. My children eat what is offered for dinner. They know they better not throw out food, because they understand, and even helped, with the efforts involved to produce it. We all have a new appreciation that can’t be found outside of the agrarian life.

At age 37, I have already had one hip surgery, and there may be more on the horizon. I have physical conditions that may contribute to my body breaking down early under the physical toll of this “simple life,” and yet, I have no regrets and don’t want to change much at all. God designed and programmed us to work, and the sense of accomplishment felt at the end of a good day on the Farm just can’t be attained at a desk job in my experience!

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

BrianL says 2018-04-15 17:09:52 (CST)

It would be a mistake to assume "simple" means the same thing as "convenient." While marketers tell us that the latest technologies and products "simplify" our lives, freeing us up so we can spend more time shopping or watching television or consuming something in some form, this is not the actual textbook meaning of the word.

According to my trusting 1946 edition of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, the word "simple" is defined as "not complex or complicated," "unaffected; unconstrained; inartificial," and "not given to stratagem or duplicity, sincere; harmless." It's no wonder those aforementioned clever marketers tried to create a new definition. The word is the very condemnation of their dark arts!

It's important to note, "simple" does not imply easy. But it is a rare occurrence when the easy solution proves to be the best solution. There's an Amish saying I often quote; "We need more conveniences less than we need more convictions." A sincere conviction to making a life that is simple in form and practice, as opposed to making a living so that one can consume with reckless abandon, is an honorable aim and one I think most of us here on the RH forum share in our myriad forms.

Klaus brings up many very good points about the misdirection our society has taken. While this tragic course may be unalterable until it crashes under its own weight of overconsumption, misuse, and neglect, maybe simple living is the antidote to offer a quiet refuge from, if not a cure to, the ills that surround us?

Or as one person once put it, half in jest, "The industrial revolution was an interesting diversion."

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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