|Is the simple life, the more rewarding life?|
No big deal, right? I mean - how long does it take to do three loads of laundry? Two hours?
Wrong. It took me from 8am until 1pm. That is approximately five hours of laundering (I *did* wash towels, sheets and comforters, mind you).
Oh - and I did it by hand.
No, this is not another post about how to do laundry on a boat - I already wrote about that. Nope, this is a post about efficiency and how it has changed the world, for better or worse.
While I was elbow deep in soap and ammonia getting one heck of an arm workout, I thought to myself how living on boat takes you back in time. A time where everything moves a little bit slower, where everything takes a little bit longer. Simple tasks can take two, three, four, sometimes even five times longer than they do on land. We can spend a whole day doing chores that take most of you an hour or two. Like laundry.
I've touched on this subject before, but on this particular day, I got to thinking more about land-life convenience, the effects it has on us and the time we save because of it. We have cars that take us from a to b. Mechanics to fix those cars when they break. Gas stations on every block to fill up the tanks of those cars. When the power goes out, we can trust that ComEd will turn it back on. When the toilet backs up a plumber can be over within 24 hours. We can do a dinner party's worth of dishes with the push of a button. Customer service hotlines are now 24/7. Children carry cell phones and are glued to electronic devices. We can fast-forward commercials. We can warm up frozen food in two minutes. There is a store (big box or otherwise) for just about any and everything you need within driving distance. Water is always available when we open our taps. Garbage gets collected once a week. Streets get plowed and mail gets delivered, rain or shine. Food can be delivered for us, right to our door within thirty minutes or less. Nowadays with the internet, if we don't want to leave our homes, we really don't have to. For anything.
And, of course, we can do three loads of laundry without ever getting our hands wet.
The list, obviously, goes on.
With all this extra time on our hands, it's no wonder we have evolved into a society where the average person watches television for four hours and thirty-five minutes a day. Where, by 2030, about half of the adult population of the United States will be obese, not including 1 out of every 3 children. Should we be surprised that cases of children being diagnosed with ADD & ADHD have increased by nine million over the last ten years and the average child spends 5.5 hours every day on media-driven sedentary activities? Is it shocking that, despite being one of the richest countries on the planet, we rank #16 out of 80 in terms of happiness? Doesn't this seem odd in a world where things are so...easy?
It seems to me that despite having all this free time thanks to "modern convenience" and "efficiency" - we're not using it very wisely and it doesn't, in fact, make our lives better. Despite having more time on our hands than ever (historically speaking) - we enjoy the world much less, and we're worse off because of it.
Now I don't want to get lynched for being the pot that called the kettle 'black' - because I am just as guilty as the next guy when it comes to reveling in modern-day conveniences when I can. When we lived on land I drove all over the place, I ordered take-out, I microwaved dinners, I shopped online (and still do) and I most certainly did not do laundry by hand (though none of my apartments had a dishwasher). Not to mention I am on the computer, utilizing the magical world wide web on a daily basis. Sometimes more than I should. It's how I get my daily bread. I work online. In addition, we obviously enjoy many conveniences aboard Rasmus; chart plotter, AIS, autopilot, EPIRB, watermaker, fans, oven, SSB and more - and it is true these technologies enrich our experience and make life more comfortable. But there must be a balance, because too much of a good thing is not good, right?
I'm not pointing fingers - and I don't have any answers. I mean, I have the luxury to have five hours of time in which to do laundry by hand. I have the luxury to live on a boat where I walk at least a few miles a day just doing normal chores, where I get to breathe fresh air and bask in sunshine on a daily basis, where I eat locally grown fresh produce and where my lifestyle keeps me fit and healthy, naturally. I am a lucky girl, and I know it.
And you want to know what else? I have never felt more of a sense of accomplishment doing laundry than I did when I completed all those loads and saw them lined up, clean and pretty, drying in the sun and flapping in the breeze. It felt so good to hang that last towel. I guess working a little harder makes the end result that much sweeter.
My friend, Tim Shambrook, who commented on a question I posed on our Facebook page said it best:
"The bigger the effort, the bigger the reward."