Thursday, September 3, 2009

Transportation and Living Simply

I've been thinking for a while now about getting a bicycle. Today as I was watching folks biking around the UGA campus, it occurred to me that bikes are really only good for going somewhere. Just you, and maybe a bag or backpack. I could not use a bike to take the dogs to the vet, bring home 80lbs of dog food, get groceries, or transport 8' lengths of crown molding.  Sure, I could hit the grocery store every few days and carry back just a little food each trip. I could probably bike to work. But... I am not fond of being out in the rain and can't imagine biking in it. I have no idea how much a taxi costs. And the nearest bus stop is a mile from my house. I've hit a brick wall when it comes to simplifying my transportation. Can't be done at this time in this place.

I sometimes wish I could step back in time to when people walked where they needed to go, and it wasn't all that important that they arrive at a given time. I've watched specials on National Geographic that show "primitive" people and I so envy them and their simple lifestyle. They get up, gather their food for the day, make or repair clothing and tools and shelters, visit with friends and family. They don't have a mortgage, electric bill, or broken appliances they can't fix. They work as much as they need to for that day, for their own needs and those of their tribe or village, and they're done. They aren't slaving away for some faceless corporation doing work they may not enjoy that doesn't directly benefit themselves or their people. And they just walk; around the village, to pasture with the herd, to hunt, to gather food. Simple.

Me, I have to work to afford the car I need in order to get to work, the house that has all the stuff required by laws to be able to live in it, of a size determined by the zoning in my city. And the media implies that I need to have a better car, a bigger house, fancier appliances, fancier clothes, and it will all make me a better and happier person. Bullshit. Those villagers on Nat Geo have none of that, and they all look pretty happy to me, or at least content with having a full belly and a place to sleep. And that's really all I want. Simple.


Adamantyr said...

I'm all for simpler lives, and not falling for the media's idea of "more is better". But I also think that glorifying "the simple life" has its dangers too...

Primitive man may have had a better life, but we'll never know, because we can't really ask them. And asking present indigenous hunter-gatherer cultures is tricky... if it's the only life they've ever known, how can they make a judgment call on it?

Another thought: Greece has always been, historically, sparse on trees. Apparently, this is because most of its forests were cut down in the paleolithic eras. There's running theories that the Gobi and Sahara deserts were created by similar reckless deforestation by men just wielding flint or copper tools. So frankly, primitive man can be just as short-sighted as modern man.

I've felt myself that modern life's complications can be a pain at times... but at the same time, human beings as a race can not retreat to some idealistic old-fashioned lifestyle, because ignorance is no longer an excuse.

Also, the Earth absolutely would never support a population of the size we have all trying to hunt and gather.

Abby said...

Agreed, Adam. We have out populated the ecosystems of the planet. There's no turning back. Not for all of us, anyway.