Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Because I Can

We had a power outage here a few days ago. A big windstorm, a lot of things blowing around, and then, darkness.

After fumbling around a bit to find a flashlight and some candles, we sat on the couch and hung out in the dark. And I got to thinking...

It's really quite a miracle that we can live where we do. In the winter, temperatures go well below freezing, in the summer, it's dry and extremely hot. We get a lot of wind from the west, and during one of those storms, if it's not nailed down, count on your things on the deck getting blown to the next yard!

Let's go back in time, shall we? Say, 150 years? It's a totally different scene. No central heating or air-conditioning, and we'd be lucky to have insulation. We're cooking all of our own meals, making our own entertainment, but only if we weren't working on feeding and clothing ourselves. We might be tending to animals or children. No tv, computer, telephone. At night, we talk to each other, perhaps play a few games, until we go to bed with a heated brick in the bed to keep us warm.

So, what am I getting at here?

For those of us who make things by hand, we do it because we can - we don't have to, but we do. We could easily purchase what we make, but we don't. We do it because we want to have that knowledge of making things. That knowledge isn't always written down. It's saved in our brains, and in our muscles.

My existence here is so dependent on modern luxuries. Would I live here if I didn't have a nice comfy home with climate control and soft furniture? I guess I would if I had to. But the fact that I have time to write this, and not have to boil water for my laundry, wash it by hand and dry it... well, that's miraculous, really.

I guess the thing is, it's really important to me to know that I don't have to depend on modern conveniences to keep me going. I have always been attracted to the world before my time - I read old stories, old books. I like knowing how to cook things over a fire. I like watching survival shows and reading survival guides. I like knowing that, in a pinch, I could be a useful person if I were lost in the wilderness - I could fingerweave a fishing net. I could hand-tie a fishing line and hook. I can husk a coconut with a sharp stake. I can gut a fish.

I'm not trying to be the saviour of antiquated skills. I just do these things because I can. And the majority of people in this world aren't as lucky. To me, having these skills makes me realize just how lucky I am. I have a leisurely life. I may as well make something out of it. It brings me peace. It reminds me that am I alive, and just the same sort of human being as those who don't have what I have. My idleness would be an insult to them.

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.” ~Zen proverb

Make. Do. Be. That's what I say.


Ang said...

So true Adriene! I am a pioneer woman at heart too, and feel lucky to know how to make do.

AdrieneJ said...

There's an Amish saying out there. It's something like: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. It's a pretty good way to live.

YarnKettle said...

You sound like the person I want to have with me if I am ever stranded somewhere, other than an airport. Hey even in an airport, I bet I would have a great conversation with you.
The Zen proverb really finishes your entry well too.

AdrieneJ said...

Hey, airports require a special set of survival skills! I'm not sure I have them, though... I'd go with someone who has way more patience than I do!

Lu said...

Have you tried making an apple box oven? A friend of mine has one and she's baked in hers. I still have to try it out myself.
I have made toilet paper candles/heaters. One can is supposed to be able heat a large room. So incase the heat goes out at your place, you try one of these. You need a small paint can (preferably one that is cleaned out - I think you can get them at paint stores), a roll of toilet paper (the cheap kind works great because it's easy to take the cardboard roll out) and rubbing alcohol that you can get at the local pharmacy. Don't for get to tape a book of matches and a quarter on top of the lid (or a paint can opener).

AdrieneJ said...

@Lu - I totally missed your comment here until now. I have a bad habit of not checking back, and I only recently turned on the thingy that notifies me when someone leaves a comment! I'm gonna have to look into an apple box oven - it sounds intriguing!