A recent post at the contentment-filled Down to Earth has given me mixed feelings, and I'm trying to sort them out. I am wondering if Simple Living is as simple as all that!
It is very easy to move from contentment with a simple life to smugness about it. Hardly conducive to moving other people forward, though. I also think it's often a bit simplistic. Often a decision early in life sets a trajectory which is very difficult to shift. As a positive example: The Geek is a computer programmer -- it's all he has ever wanted to be. Now in Australia, there are only two cities where you can get the kind of job he wants: Sydney and Melbourne. We're Sydneysiders. As it happens, the parts of Sydney with computing jobs in them are all at major transport hubs, except for one. The Geek has always walked and/or used public transport to and from work. But if he were in the building trades, the story would be quite different. The Geek's apparent eco-friendliness is a result of his career choice, rather than a transport choice.
We can't always see how our previous choices will affect the options open to us later, and for some people, the usual prescriptions for starting Simple Living are close to insurmountable. How do you cook from scratch, for example, if you have never been taught much cooking and all your family have a firmly-set taste for processed foods? (Don't look at me for the answer: I chose a family which could cook!) Perhaps more entry points to the simple lifestyle need to be shared around?
That's my first feeling: that sometimes simplifying one's life is quite complex! And in particular, that if you have more money to start with, you have more ability to live simply.
On the other hand, sometimes I feel that more medium-level articles are what I need. The Geek commented the other night that the usual items in Make Your House Greener articles are things we have already done -- we're now heading for the expensive-and-daunting end of the spectrum, where the photovoltaics and grey-water treatment kits live. Surely there is something in the middle, between $200 and $20,000?