Monday, January 11, 2016

The Simple Things in Life

"Our life is frittered away by detail."  Henry David Thoreau
Isn't it interesting how the simple pleasures in life has the most profound impact on our lives?

Busy lives

Our days are easily filled with all kinds of must-do's and do-not forgets. From the moment we open our eyes it is a rush to get ready for work. Get the kids to school. Be on time for the meeting. Grab a coffee. Do the presentation. Get the food ready for dinner. Do the washing. Walk the dog and get to bed in time to have enough energy for tomorrow to rinse and repeat.

We can be forgiven for getting tired and depressed just thinking of it all. If the daily grind is not enough, we have the weekly and monthly reminders that push us along: Pay the mortgage. Close the deal. Settle the bills. Buy the food. Service the car. Celebrate the birthday. Clean the yard. Make it to Summer and then to Christmas.

Then there are the goals for life: Pass the exam. Find the job. Marry. Earn the promotion. Buy the house. Build the career. Raise the kids. Retire. Before we know it, eighty years have passed and we are lying alone in bed with a drip and catheter wondering, what just happened?


In and Out of Control

The holidays provide a welcome chance to reevaluate what life is about.

With the years ticking by, I've slowly and painfully learned a profound lesson about the things with which we fill our days. It doesn't matter how much money we make, it is likely not going to be enough. It doesn't matter what house we live in, it is likely going to be too small. I've realized that some things are inevitable like hair loss, being despised by your teenage son, or the death of your dog. With this realization I've learned that while we may not be able to control these things, we can control how we think about them. We can choose to be helpless or hopeful.


There are many other things that are there by choice, and not by chance. Most of what happens every day is with our consent, consciously or otherwise, and within our direct control and influence. We can choose how busy to get, how many things we have on our minds, and what we must and mustn't do. Another profound lesson I've learned from this, is that no matter what happens, there are only a few simple pleasures that make it all worthwhile. Without these, we may as well head straight to the drip and catheter.

Simple Pleasures

Some people meditate. Others read or run. For many, the pleasures are primal. All of them have the profound power to put life into perspective. When everything is stripped away. When the noise gets too much. When we realize that our mind-space is out of control, then we can withdraw to this simple zone for perspective. We can again become basic human.

For me it is a campfire, a piece of meat, cold beer and sharing it with good friends. This is my happy place. Simple.

When everything we do as people are stripped away, the simplicity of a shared meal around a fire with good company may just be the most profound equalizer. No matter where we live, what we drive, which job or qualification we have, it all simply comes down to those moments humanity celebrated for thousands of years.

These are the moments we must collect most of all along our life's journey, before we're booked for our appointment with old-age plumbing. We should cherish the simple pleasures in life.

Disconnection and Control

We live in a bizarre world. We are disconnected from our local communities and neighbours, yet have all the news and gossip about people and events, that has little to no bearing on our day-to-day lives. We know more about our Facebook "friends" than we do about our neighbours. We eat food, wear clothes and use tools from people we don't know, and is unlikely to ever meet.

Every month we hand over the majority of our earnings in taxes and interest to bureaucrats who profess to have our best interest at heart. They assure us, they have a higher moral compass and knows best what we need. This we do while these people have no knowledge of who we really are. We are connection rich, morally sedated, responsibility abdicated, and community poor.

We worry about things we cannot influence or change. I am trying to find a term for this state, and is open to suggestions.

What we miss is to be mentally and physically involved in the things around us. We should consciously choose our world and give it priority. Not someone else's fabrication somewhere else. We should choose to interact with people we meet on the street, in the shops, by talking to them. The old fashion way.  We should get to know the people in our community. These people, and us make the community. The butcher, the baker, the carpenter and builder. Our producers.

In our shrink-wrapped ready to wear, ready to eat world, we walk past these people never really knowing who they are. We don't know what they do. How they do it. We are worse off because we don't take the time to reach out to them and get to know them. In the process, we lose the opportunity to get to know more about ourselves. It is time for us to take time to meet each other.

If we do, we are likely to buy their bread - our community's bread - instead of the bread from a faceless corporation, paying minimum wage. We can drink our community's beer. Eat our community's meat and vegetables. If we support our local producers, we are directly and indirectly supporting ourselves. Then our children have true meaningful opportunities to learn to make something and be part of a place and its people. Then our youth will become the engineers, carpenters, builders and bakers of the future, instead of aspiring to careers in minimum wage mindless corporate jobs. Then the values in our communities and our people are restored.

In the following weeks we are going to feature some of these producers.  We hope you like what you see. We are certainly having a lot of fun getting to know them better.

See what happens if you support your local producers: http://content.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1903632,00.html

"At the most basic level, when you buy local more money stays in the community. The New Economics Foundation, an independent economic think tank based in London, compared what happens when people buy produce at a supermarket vs. a local farmer's market or community supported agriculture (CSA) program and found that twice the money stayed in the community when folks bought locally. "That means those purchases are twice as efficient in terms of keeping the local economy alive," says author and NEF researcher David Boyle. (See the top 10 food trends of 2008.)"

Hendrik van Wyk


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