I have struggled with the labels of: minimalism, frugality, survivalist, simple living, being green, emergency preparedness, self-sufficiency and the many other labels out there for the past couple of months. Which one of these labels fully describes the direction I am going with my life?
My problem with labels is they are something we use, to associate ourselves with or others use to categorize people with a particular lifestyle or movement. That way people can be stereotyped into certain images that people have of that label. Also others who associate themselves with this label can even try to coerce them into doing things the same way they do – after all you have identified with this label and I have been doing it longer than you, therefore, you need to do things this way – “it is how people here do it”.
What happens when you don’t fit the stereotypical image that you or other people associate with a life style or movement. Do you have interests that cross-over and between several labels that seem to be at opposite ends of the political or other spectrums? I think that this causes problems for those who attempt to pigeon-hole people into neat categories of how those people should act and think all the time. Especially when they expect them to act one way, when in reality they believe just the opposite.
Maybe that is my problem, I don’t really fit the stereotypical person that others think of when they use these labels.
To me that is a good thing – who wants to simply be a stereotype anyway. Besides people like us confuse the hell out of other people, we just don’t always do what is expected of us – 🙂
Here are my thoughts on a few of those labels:
Minimalism appeals, because it calls for you to get rid of “stuff” and “things” you don’t need now. I generally don’t really get attached to “stuff”, but there is “stuff” and then there is “stuff”, see my Family Heirlooms and Minimalism/Simplicity Attitudes post.
Minimalism is a process that takes time to figure out what is necessary vs what is nice to have. The problem I have minimalism or extreme simplicity is that once you get rid of something, you may or may not be able to find what you need down the road either at a price you can afford or are just not available. Or the worst case is that you need what you got rid of to get through a sticky situation.
Simple Living/Being Green
This sounded an awful lot like the direction we were headed. We already were doing some/many of the the things that seem go along with this choice: canning, making jellies, having a garden (my wife is great at those things), using less gas powered tools, foraging for some food, doing a bit of hunting and a bunch of other things.
Personally, I am not big into keeping our own critters beyond the 5 cats and dog that we have. We have thought about raising some pigs, goats, chickens, etc., but that would adding a whole other level to our life, that I am not ready to cross yet. I could do it, but it is just not who I am right now.
The Green part is something I am trying to more of, but it is hard to voluntarily move away from the conveniences of our modern world, to where we don’t use them. Recreationally I have done a good job with this, but when it comes to tools, I am going to use what makes my life easier for as long as I can.
This is actually just being ready for the unexpected. I am not the gun-toting militia survivalist Maineiac (misspelled on purpose) that is stereotyped in the media, who believes that the EOTWAWKI is coming and getting ready for it
However, I do know that bad things can and do happen, when we least expect it. The weather (ice storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, etc.) or man-made disasters (nuclear accidents, oil spills) or even extended periods without electricity or gasoline. I do believe that there will be shortages in the future of basic needs, unless we move away from fossil fuels, to more “green” alternatives.
I believe that I need to be able to survive these situations without waiting for government handouts or having to leave my home. Food, water, shelter, security can and should be taken care of at home when at all possible. If I have to leave, I need to have a plan and the equipment to take care of us, during that emergency. This to me is using common sense.
The song by Hank Williams Jr. “A Country Boy Can Survive” says a lot. My dad and grandfather taught me about things that don’t have damn thing to do with computers or technology and a lot about how to survive without all this technology.
I just have to remember some of the things that they taught me. Perhaps that is some of the journey that I will be on over the next few years.
Getting the biggest bang for your buck. Spending money consciously instead of spending it “spur of the moment” or buying things you really don’t need or want. Being frugal means to me, instead of replacing something and going to get something new, you check out why something is not working, attempt to repair it and if it still doesn’t work then replace it if you still need it.
This also doesn’t mean that you go out and buy something simply based on the cost, as most of us know, that quite often you get exactly what you pay for. Being frugal is not being cheap, but it is being fully conscious of how, when, where and what you spend your money on.
When I K.I.S.S. this
I will take pieces from all of these labels as we downsize our lifestyle to meet our current income levels and how we want to live.
After writing this post, I really am not struggling anymore with what label I fit into after writing this post because I don’t really fit any of these labels. Use whatever label you want to describe the lifestyle we are molding, but to me it is much more than just living with a label.
I think that the title of my blog kind of says it all – Simplicity is Workn. No extremes, just living simply and fully with what is left of my time here.
Here is to a good life and keeping it simple stupid.
Are you doing the right thing for the right reasons?