Most of us live by proxy. We pay someone else to grow our food. We hire a builder to construct our homes. Our clothes are made in overseas sweatshops and our fuel is created by machines. We obtain the necessities of life indirectly.
One of my goals on this journey, which I’ve only just realised, is to cut out the middlemen and experience these necessities of life more directly. To live simply is to remove the layers between you and the things that keep you alive and functioning: food, water, shelter, clothing, fuel, money, work, community. Few people manage it over the long term, but even those who quit after a few years develop an understanding and appreciation of the effort involved in gaining the basics of existence.
You might say this is all a pointless exercise. Why bother learning to do these things when they are so easily – and effortlessly – done for you? Choosing to live simply and directly will not make you richer. It will not improve your career or social standing. But I think it’s worthwhile because it teaches you the true value of the things that keep you alive. You learn the effort involved in the simplest thing, from growing an apple for lunch to building a beam that will hold up your roof. You can know, for a brief moment, what it means to obtain the necessities of life.