For years—literally—I’ve had this entry in my “Blog Post Ideas” list:
Simple Living – Finding the balance between necessity and aesthetics
This conundrum grew out of my desire to buy only what I need, in order to take only my share of the Earth’s resources.
Do I need art on the walls? No, not really, but it sure looks nice. Do I need decorative blankets and pillows? No, but it makes the home cozier. Do I need designer glasses in my kitchen cupboards? No, but it makes every drink just a bit more special.
For the most part, I’ve leaned toward not buying the art and the pillows and the blankets. (I did go with the designer glasses.) Our sparsely furnished house is a testament thereof.
I’ve thought about this topic extensively over the past few years, but I never came to a satisfactory conclusion, so I didn’t feel like I could write about it. Both sides of the coin are important: being mindful of the earth’s resources and being surrounded by beauty. Since humans are programmed to enjoy beautiful things, there must be a way to have both, I thought. But I wasn’t sure how.
Then I started reading and learning and dreaming about a world without money. And it hit me! In a different society with a different economic and political system, we can easily have both. We would be living more sustainably in the first place—growing and harvesting only the food we need, making only the clothes and tools we need, and finding ways to heat and cool our homes using free or renewable energy (just to name a few differences). Plus, everybody in the world would have enough.
And since we’re only spending three to four hours each day “working”—that is, contributing our talents and skills to the greater good, we’ll have lots of time to create beautiful things for ourselves and to share with others in the community. Our homes will be filled with hand-crafted, beautiful quilts, pillows, paintings, photography, glass, pottery, and other creations that we might not even have considered yet!
Once again, I am struck with how much sense a money-free world makes compared to the disaster we have today. This is just one example of many…
Until we get there, I will continue to buy only what I need or really, really love. This includes local art and poetry from Driftward Press, pottery from local potters, and other handmade-with-love items to elevate the coziness factor in my home. Maybe I don’t need those things in a strictly physical sense, but I do know that our spirit needs beauty to thrive.
What are your thoughts? Do you think surrounding yourself with beauty is important when a billion people are starving in the world? Is it possible to find balance between necessity and aesthetics?