Learning To Live With Less
This used to be a deal breaker when we looked for a vacation house to rent for a week. For the next year, I’ll have to stand in front of the kitchen sink everyday and scrub, scrub, scrub under a very temperamental faucet.
Oh, by the way, no car. No Italian espresso machine and coffee beans freshly roasted and shipped to us from Kansas City. No Parma prosciutto. No dryer. No TV. No La Creuset pots and pans. The shower and toilet are in a different part of the house from our sink and toiletry. No cell phone. No fresh beef. No Beef!
The first time I needed to buy fish in a hurry, I had the entire 15-minute walk to Steinar’s dock to think about how I wished I had a car. I consoled myself then: “It would’ve taken 15 minutes to drive to Whole Foods, and now I’m getting fit while I’m getting fish.” When I got there, Steinar was busy forklifting boxes of crabs off a boat. I waited for 15 minutes and walked home empty handed. The guys working the seafood section at Whole Foods would not have done that to me.
But now, I hardly think about doing the dishes by hand, or having to walk everywhere. It’s incredible how rapidly this life became the new normal. Don’t get me wrong: Given the choice, I rather have a dishwasher. But not having one just doesn’t bother me much.
Humans have an amazing skill: the ability to adapt to a new environment without affecting our mental well being. Our ancestors honed this skill for millions of years before we emerged and became the most adaptable species ever to roam the earth. But too often, we forget that we have this skill, this genetic gift, and we squander it and make decisions in life as if we’d fall apart under adversity. And many of us sacrifice gravely in order to “maintain standard of living.”
Of course, there’re limits to adaptation. I can’t get used to a bad relationship. I tried. I can’t get used to hunger, even though I haven’t tried that one and I don’t want to try.
But a cell phone? Who needs one! I can even live without beef.