Many of us yearn for plain, simple surroundings where our basic needs are supplied in very simple ways. But there are always trade-offs. There is a paradox that comes along with simplicity: choosing a simpler life usually entails more activity on your part.
Given the sort of person you are and the sorts of things you enjoy, do you think simplifying your life physically would yield you greater pleasure? Here is a quiz that will show if a radically, physically simple life would work well for you:
1. Would you delight in the extra exercise and sensual experience involved in, for example, chopping wood, riding a bicycle, kneading dough, sweeping, using a pole lathe, hand-sanding old furniture?
2. Does reading about people doing those sorts of things or seeing pictures of them give you a feeling of excitement, pleasure or envy?
3. Do you feel a yearning for more exertion and the kind of weariness that comes at the end of a day of physical labor?
4. At those times in your life when you have done that sort of work, or when you have shaped something by hand instead of buying it, did that feel especially satisfying to you?
5. Do you go camping and enjoy the simplicity of a tent and a campfire (or even a caravan) and then find yourself slightly averse to all the demands of a modern house when you return?
6. Do you love taking trips to places far away from telephones and television, where mobile phones don’t work?
7. Were you a boy scout or a girl guide and do you remember, with pleasurable nostalgia, what fun it was to go tracking, to make campfires, collect firewood, make “gadgets” by lashing sticks together?
8. Do you enjoy gardening? Cooking? Sewing? Crafts?
If you said “yes” to all or most of these questions, you are a likely candidate for radical, physical simplicity. If you said “no” to most of them, you will need to think carefully before implementing anything which simplifies your life physically. You must watch that you don’t simplify in ways which will create chores you later come to resent. Or chores which, one day, you may be physically unable to do. (If osteo-arthritis sets in, will you still be able to chop wood and ride your bike?)