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Honored Advisor

Would you if you could?

The thread about Lisa's "LIttle House Heart Cakes" below got me thinking this morning.   Mostalgia has extreme powers, but even though any of us probably could live simpler lives, how many of actually would

My e-mail arrived this morning with a fresh catalog of ideas and items for the so-inclined from Lehman's...so, the simpler life and its accoutrements are out there, waiting for us to choose them.  If we really wanted to, we could all hang our clothes on lines instead of tossing them into the dryer,  grind a batch of fresh flour by hand for those noodles for dinnertime, and of course,  give up our cell phones and computers. 

I guess most of us are old enough to recall the sixties hippie/back to the earth movement, and its revival in the 80s/90s, with the simplicity journals and such.  This is the third go-around for me on this part of societal longing for simplicity.   From my readings, I see this has been a cyclical evolution over many eons    

Somehow, the vast majority of us seem to get it out of our systems and move ahead at a breakneck pace as soon as the economy picks up again.  People talk about how a period of austerity changes them, but my opinion is that it rarely does.  People treat the bad times as an abberation, and the good times as the norm, and never look back, unless forced to do so by the next downturn. 

It is a harsh thing to say in a way, but I think we get the lives we desire for the most part, even if we don't think we do.  Do you agree? 

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6 Replies
Senior Contributor

Re: Would you if you could?

Some of us are the way we are by the parents' generation. I'm not old enough to have a clue of the 60's. Feel as if I've lived more austere life than that of my generation. My parents were born about 20 years before most of my classmates' parents were. Don't have MP3, a microwave or dishwasher. Agree with you that most people are optimists a bit much, but how many could handle a balance of pessimism?

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Advisor

Re: Would you if you could?

I feel llike I live the life I need to right now.  I don't think so much about simple or complex as I do about what the demands and requirements are on me that I must respond to.  To some extent that concedes a lot of control on my part but I have learned to live within those demands and requirements.

 

For example, I know that I have to work for a few more years for health insurance benefits and to enable us to do some of the things we still need to do on the house and with the farm before I retire and we lose my income. 

 

So, knowing that I have to work for a while, and knowing that my job is physically and mentally demanding, I allow myself some things that others might consider luxuries....I have a house cleaner and we eat out whenever we want to.  I have my slacks and blouses cleaned and pressed weekly.  We travel as often as we can while we have our health and so that I can recharge my batteries from the work stress I am under. 

 

One might ask, "If you simplified your life would you still have to work?"  The answer is yes.  So it is not that I work so that I can have those luxuries.  The reality is that I work and my life is complex and harried and filled with demands so I choose those luxuries to help me to simplify my life. 

 

If it were simply a matter of making lifestyle changes to simplify things so I could be home all day, I would.  It is not that simple.   

 

The recent recession and loss of retirement fund values put a lot of us 50 somethings in a situation we never planned on.  Just as we approached the last 6-8 years of our working lives, our retirement funds tanked and the government has decided that we need to work longer to pay for the entitlement programs that so many others (some estimates as high as 50% of our population) enjoy. 

 

I seriously doubt that I will ever see the Social Security and Medicare benefits that my parents' generation have had.  Plus I see the outstanding numbers of people applying for and getting benefits who are of working age.  I simply cannot comprehend how many young (18-60 yr old) men and women of working age who are getting public assistance, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, subsidized housing and child care, food stamps and disability insurance!!

 

Those of us who work and pay taxes are basicaly being pounded into the ground to support a larger and larger portion of our population.  If I didn't have to support everyone else and share it with the government to squander at will, I could simplify my life and retire right now.  But as long as they keep taking from me to give to others, I will keep on working and keep on doing what I can to make it managble!!

 

Always remember, those who lived a simpler lifestyle "back then" did not have a large intrusive government and a large entitlement population placing demands on them.

 

 

 

 

Advisor

Re: Would you if you could?

Honey, you are singing to the choir...AMEN!

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Honored Advisor

Re: Would you if you could?

Your point about the age of your parents relative to those of your classmates is a very apt one.  Mike's folks were 40 when he was born, and it is almost as though he is a generation older than I am in many respects...some good -  some not - in ways that are hard to fathom or explain.   

He knows and did firsthand things I barely remember as family customs.  I do NOT want to go back to doing the laundry Clampett style, for sure! I have his family's iron pots and stirring paddles, and I keep recipes for homemade soap...but hope I never need to make any of it! 

Am sort of middling on technology, I guess. Have not gotten into MP3s either, but the dishwasher is a necessity to me.  MIL alwasy had one, but seldom used it, which is pointless to me! Could live without a microwave...but tend to keep one.mostly for quick heatups. 

I am optimisitc that times will improve, but it seems they will do so very slowly this time around, compared to past downturns.  I think Soilbabe's analysis of our retirement prospects and the expectations on us as working people is spot-on. 

It is really hard to keep telling our kids that things will work out right, if they just keep putting their noses to the grindstone.  They see classmates who had illegitimate babies while teens being handed everything that they need and most of what they want, and such.  Neighborhood mostly on workers' comp or disability...and yet, our family keeps getting out and rooting hard for what we need...I hope mine children do not blame me someday for misleading them on this point. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Would you if you could?

I see work as being responsible for self. Those that do not are really injuring themselves. Times could always be worse, but help is readily available. Sometimes too available. It is as if the rewards only go to those who can figure out the system. Until the officials that are writing the laws can be replaced with people with common sense, it will only continue. I can still vote, so my right to complain isn't void, yet.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Would you if you could?

I like having the best of both worlds, honestly. I like to bake from scratch, but it's nice to be able to use a cake mix on busy days or throw a frozen pizza in the oven on busy evenings. I like reading books and writing notes, but being able to e-mail and use Facebook means I get to keep in touch with far-flung family and friends with just a few clicks. I didn't have a dryer last summer and hung out our clothes to dry, and it was fine ... but I'm happy to have one now so I can dry our clothes quickly in the winter. I'll probably do a combination of line drying and using the dryer this summer.

 

I have no problem leaving technology behind for a week at a time or so for vacation, but I'm not sure I'd want to have to give it up forever. The trick is finding a balance so that we can keep those old-fashioned values, but also take advantage of modern technology.

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