Wednesday, May 30, 2012

mirror, mirror (not) on the wall

As much as I harp about the importance of choices and their affect on your life, I'm reminded that there have been some happenstances in our lives that have been most fortuitous.  So fortuitous that we've consciously incorporated them so that now they ARE our choices.

I guess first I will cover the things that change your life but that you don't choose to keep.  For me these seem to revolve around water, and bathing.  When we first moved up here, to the land from town, I was pregnant and we lived in an old, 1950s travel trailer that was something like 7 1/2 feet wide and 37 feet long.  We lived there until the baby was nearly two years old.  It had a five gallon water heater.  I will never forget those showers, and always freezing before the end, worse if I was trying to wash my hair.  For baths we would heat stock pots of water on the stove and even then, the tub was so small we could never actually cover my tummy.

I have never again had a large bath or a long shower that I wasn't conscious and thankful for it.  Of course, we also lived through several droughts that had us bathing in the creek, so there's way more than one reason to be thankful for hot water and bathing.  Although if I were designing something again, I would likely go with only wood heated water, and a pitcher pump from a shallow well.  But I'm braver that way now.  I know how few baths you really need (but that having a really good one when you do is well worth it).

(this is a total aside, but I remember reading someone else's blog some years ago, someone who did a lot of "contests" and "events" and the like, and she asked her readers how often they bathed and I was SHOCKED at how often that was.  And these were greenie people.  People with low flow toilets.  I can only imagine how often they washed their sheets.  And probably dried them in a dryer.)

One of the things we "designed" but by accident was our seating arrangements.  We don't have any really comfortable chairs in the house.  We have a couple futons, some straight back chairs, and mostly stools to sit on (and a yoga ball which is what I'm on right now).  We don't sit a lot.  So we weigh less and we get more done than your average bear.  I like this arrangement but it isn't actually very gracious.

Perhaps the biggest and most accidental thing we did was to live without mirrors.  We had had regular bathroom mirrors before we moved into the house we built, and we'd planned for the same in this house.  But the bathroom is tile and we didn't want to drill holes and we just never got around to it anyway and in a few years we noticed that not having mirrors was changing us.  Without the ability to see your external self, you can make up in your mind how you look and you just don't focus on it anymore.  Nothing is determined or dictated or decided by that image anymore.  And without that constantly there, you begin to see how much influence that image had.  Our culture, and our counter culture, is so incredibly influenced by that constantly there "other" peeking in at you, making comments, causing a performance instead of a life.  Get rid of mirrors and it gets rid of a lot of that.  At least, it did for us.

And our children have, for the most part, grown up without that other peeking in in the first place.  For that I am truly grateful.


barefoot gardener said...

Thought provoking, as always. I have noticed the difference in myself when I avoid mirrors (and media, etc) as well. How wonderful for your children to see themselves only through the eyes of those that truly know and care about them!

lostinthewoods said...

We still live with a pitcher pump from a shallow well right into the kitchen sink, our woodstove/fireplace backs into our sauna at the center of the house where we keep two porcelain enameled canners full of water during heating season so we always have hot water. A 12 volt bilge pump (10 bucks or so) attached to a low flow shower head and a grey water drain in the sauna provides us with showers...we have a solar shower for summer use. We built our home in 1984 and still have all these intact and operating...but, we also dug out the side of the house labor day of 2007 and built a bathroom/laundry room and pounded another shallow point well which we pump with our inverter...and have a propane on demand water heater...I did this with some trepidation...but, I'm glad we did it. We still have and use the outhouse/sawdust toilet...but since the bathroom our lives have become considerably more comfortable. I'm in my mid 60s and had cancer in 2002 (clear for 5 years), but I'm slowing down...still work hard and enjoy it though.

For some visual information I submit this site, I'm posting as 'lodestar'...