Sunday, August 16, 2009

more musings on the simple life

For a complex little being, I try to live a simple life. My simplicity equation focuses on the old energy in/energy out philosophy. It came about years ago when I made the financially scary commitment to a three day work week AND pay off the mortgage on an inner-city house as well. If I was going to work less, I needed to spend less. I had to decide what luxuries were necessities and what ones weren’t.

I’m not into wearing a second hand hair shirt. I like a certain degree of comfort, good quality food and like having holidays. But I can live without television (though not radio or the internet), most high-tech gadgets, new furniture (my last item was a slightly frayed armchair discarded on the side of the road), fashion, make up and buying new cds and dvds. Its about my own individual list of priorities, not yours. If you want to knit your own dishcloths go ahead, just those uber-frugal housey things don’t turn me on. Though you won’t catch me throwing out an old t-shirt without it having been cut up and done service as a dusting rag first.

Yes I know all you TV viewers ONLY watch the ABC and that has no real ads (sure its not advertising those promos for the ABC shops that somehow convince you that you want to rush out and buy box sets of 20 yo copies of not very funny British comedies)…oh and when you slipped over to the commercial networks for Master Chef you left the room during the ad breaks to google tonka beans or stir the risotto. But the few times I have been somewhere watching television it plants the seed of consumer desire. I started wanting to buy things that I previously didn’t know existed.

But that’s not where I intended this rant to go. I do check out a “frugality” blog from time to time. It has a huge, cult-like following of people who make their own soap, raise chooks and bake bread from scratch. However, it’s the comments that people make that get me back in touch with reality. Sure there are the holier than thous who always begin “well I’ve been living a simpler life than ever…’ (I’m more frugal than you and don’t you forget it!) but there are lots of real people struggling with maxed out credit cards, no funds to retire on and unemployment and I find it instructive to witness their struggles and solutions. However, this recent thread had me vomiting into my muesli.

When Rhonda asked what people were learning from the recession and how they were coping, there was the usual mix of braggers and battlers but these were sprinkled with the “thank god” folk to.

Now if I was on the bare bones of my arse, having lost the job I needed to feed my family and I believed in god (sheesh that’s a big ask) why would I thank my imaginary friend for this situation?

For example one respondent said: “You learn quickly the government will not prop you up you only need God and yourselfs”(sic)

And another said, “It's taught me what's important and what isn't. It's taught me more about trusting God.”

Look people – WE are the ones who are responsible. WE let the banks be driven by profit, deregulated them and gave a get out of jail free card. WE (actually not me and probably not you either, it was those good god fearing folk) are the ones who wanted to pay less tax so voted for governments who sold all the nations assets and cut back on the welfare sector. WE (or you guys again) are the ones who didn’t care about climate change enough so either voted conservative or Labour and dumped a Family First senator on us, rather than the more popular Greens.

Trust god? No examine the role each one of us have played either by apathy or green or sheer ignorance, in creating this situation and do something to rectify it. Get off your knees and be an activist!

[Rant over]

What are your thoughts on simplicity?

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Blogger R.H. said...

My dream is to be a bourgeois no-talent bum: a stereotype, just like you.

4:22 pm  
Anonymous Helen said...

I used to love "Sharon Gray"'s short pieces in the AGE, but she was a bit frugaller-than-thou. As in, "I've only had one pair of navy blue pants in my whole life, yay me!!"

What puzzles me is that I don't buy one-tenth of the things which, if the MSM is to be believed, other people do - but I still don't manage to save much. House repayments represent a much, much bigger proportion of lifetime income than in our parents' day, so don't feel too bad.

8:28 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

RH - yes us no talented bums need to stick together.

Helen - I've been thinking about debt a lot lately. About how in the last decade or so banks have been throwing money at us, encouraging offset accounts and redraw so we are out of touch with our actual debt. Go on...have a holiday, just borrow a bit more off the mortgage, they'd say. Sweet talking bastards, the lot of them!

8:12 am  
Blogger R.H. said...

How true. But class gets in the way. I'm a dog in the manger on Brunswick Street.

11:05 am  
Anonymous Helen said...

This may not help, but at least you'l l laugh till you cry.

8:26 am  
Blogger lmrb said...

I have an alarm clock that I purchased in the UK about the time gen-xers moved aside for the next gen-lot (gen-y?). My clock is worn, the plastic metal finish has become dull and grubby looking, it has survived the arrival of two fashionable and new fangled versions (both returned after they lit up my bedroom like a Christmas tree), and it was made in Malaysia. My mother, who walked out of school into the great depression, would be smiling. She used to save bits of string, paper bags, anything that might “come in handy”. She even decided to use leftover paper dress patterns as toilet paper - we all screamed in pain. And my clock? It still works, wakes me every morning so that I can venture out into the world, ready and almost active. Activism can be that simple.

8:58 pm  

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