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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Extreme Frugality Examples from Around the World

Recently, two of my friends and readers have passed along two interesting articles that are 'on topic' with the living with less theme. 

The first of these is actually a series of articles written by Hodding Carter for Gourmet Magazine.  Carter is a writer and father of four, and the articles depict his account of attempting to live with his family of six in 'extreme frugality'.  Admittedly, Carter's efforts put my efforts to shame, and reading his articles have made me question just how far I am willing to go to truly live with less. 

The next article is about the Hadza people of Tanzania, one of the last remaining true hunter-gatherer societies left in the modern world.  It is a fascinating story, and I strongly recommend that you read it, if only for interest's sake. 

Both of these articles have really caused me to question my motives for engaging in the process... and have left me feeling like my efforts are truly lacking (pardon the pun).  I am left wondering about the obstacles (both real and perceived) that are standing in my way from 'taking it up a notch'.  I find myself envying both Carter and the Hadza people, but for different reasons.  Carter is essentially doing the same thing that I am doing, attempting to live with less in our modern North American society, and doing a much better job of it, but am I willing to make the kind of changes that he has made: raising my own chickens, throwing sticks and rocks at wild birds in hopes of a meal (!), turning off my furnace, and switching to Folger's coffee in the 'big tub' (gasp!)??  If I am honest, the answer is no, but I am also interested in the 'why not' of this question so I am going to try to explore this topic a bit more in the coming weeks (or months).

As for the Hadza, I truly do envy parts of their lifestyle: no money, no social or familial obligations, no religious traditions, no war, no politics, etc.  Personally, I don't think that it is a coincidence that each of these elements of our society is also a leading contributor to both interpersonal and marital conflicts in our society.  The Hazda don't even marry by the way, at least not officially... What I am getting at, is that they live a life that is ultimately simple.  That being said, if you had a chance to read the article, you will also hear tales of their harsh living conditions; an increasing lack of freshwater, poisonous snakes, malaria-carrying mosquitos, flesh-piercing thorns, hungry jaguars, and the consumption of every part of the animals that they kill for food... and yes, they eat EVERY part.  I am really not sure that some of these things are for me...

Like many things in life, I am sensing that I need to find a balance.  I need to find a place to exist in my life that is authentic to who I really am and who I aspire to me.  I realize that it isn't going to happen overnight, and I do feel like I am on my way, however, for me, I think that it is going to be essential to continue to self-reflect and ask questions.  I guess that this is hugely what this blog is really about for me. 

Anyway, here is my favorite quote from the Hadza article:

The days I spent with the Hadza altered my perception of the world. They instilled in me something I call the "Hadza effect"—they made me feel calmer, more attuned to the moment, more self-sufficient, a little braver, and in less of a constant rush. I don't care if this sounds maudlin: My time with the Hadza made me happier. It made me wish there was some way to prolong the reign of the hunter-gatherers, though I know it's almost certainly too late. - Michael Finkel

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts...
Marebare :)

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