Plastic toys and trinkets … mass-produced clothing, shoes and decor … artificial flowers and perfumes … preservative filled food and drink … simulated sex, joy, and violence through our prefabricated phones, tablets and TV’s made in some industrial factory somewhere we don’t even know the name of.
Our lives come pre-assembled and pre-packaged.
We don’t know (and usually don’t care) where our food, drink, clothing, shoes, body products, cars, entertainment and home decor come from. As long as we don’t have to expend too much time, effort or money, who cares? As long as it’s convenient, exciting and cost-effective, all is good, right?
Disconnection With Life’s Essence
Up until only a few years ago, I was that person. I was the efficiency-lover, the cost-effective-worshiper.
I’d often marvel at how much time people would spend simply making their own food, rather than getting a tastier, cheaper and quicker fast food alternative. Or why they would opt for “organic”, “hand made”, or “locally produced” items. Truth be told, I would really just dismiss these types of people as pretentious bohemians, or beatniks.
To cut a long story short, I eventually realized that my increasing feelings of alienation from the world around me, were for the most part due to the artificial life I had bought into. As I spent more and more time in nature’s solitude during my Dark Night of the Soul, I experienced something I had rarely enjoyed before: the rawness, simplicity and rich vivacity of life.
I observed this in the way the trees swayed and danced with the wind, the way the mist filled valleys, the way dew dripped from flowers, and sunlight seeped through the clouds. I realized that the life we live these days, at its core, is disconnected with life’s very essence: unprocessed, ever-changing exuberance.
7 Ways the Rustic Life Benefits You
Getting back to the basics of life is relatively easy: learn how to make your own clothes or support hand-crafted items, cook your own meals, choose organic alternatives, grow your own fruit and vegetables, explore where the things you buy are made to see whether they were produced ethically and sustainably. There are many other options.
But what do you get out of it?
What incentive is there to change your old, convenient habits?
This is what I’ve learnt over the past few years. Please add to my list below if you feel the urge!
1. Improves your physical health through mindfulness.
Before deciding to live a more rustic life, I would grab anything that looked even mildly appetizing off the shelves of the supermarket. Now, I scrupulously check the ingredients for flavors, colors, preservatives and other nasties. Becoming more mindful of what you put into your body really increases your general health and well-being. I certainly feel healthier than I once was.
Growing and cooking your own vegetables, herbs, spices and fruits also means you don’t deal with gross pollutants like pesticides and waxes. Becoming mindful of what you eat also allows you to pay attention to food intolerance’s (like gluten) or allergies that you may have not been aware of before. For instance, I found that many of my skin problems (like acne) cleared up substantially by adopting a more rustic mindset.
2. Eases feelings of disconnection and alienation.
As living, breathing beings that are interdependent on a living, breathing planet, it is important that we bridge the gap we have created in our lives through the choices we make. To feel like you belong to the earth (rather than existing as a superior, separate being), brings feelings of happiness, self-acceptance and respect for the natural world.
3. Makes you valuable.
Following on from the previous point, when you have respect for the natural world, you do whatever you can to nurture, sustain and protect it. Those mindless robots of society polluting the land, sky and seas? They’re not valuable assets to nature; they’re enemies (and often horrific enemies of themselves as well). Living a rustic life creates an accountable, responsible and caring mindset for all the powerless critters, and unspeaking forests, oceans and habitats of the world.
4. Gives you helpful (and impressive) skills.
Gardening, cooking, wood crafting, knitting, candle making, sewing … depending on how rustic you decide to go, survival skills can even be added to the list. Plus many of these skills like cooking and knitting we take with us throughout the rest of our lives.
5. Gives you a passion that allows you to feel accomplished.
Self-fulfillment is something we all crave in life. Living a rustic life allows you not only to build useful skills and abilities, but lets you build a passion out of them. After getting sick of the negative side effects medications were giving me, for instance, I decided to grow my own medicinal herbs, which has now become a great passion of mine.
6. Allows you to feel more love and respect.
When you live in harmony with the earth, you grow in great reverence and admiration for its life-giving elements, its complexity but simplicity, and the many lessons it brings through the seasons. The more open we make ourselves to the natural world, the more we can open ourselves to others as well.
7. Makes you happier in the long-term.
I attribute my increasing connection with simple and natural ways of living with greater happiness, and overall wholeness. It was one of the the best decisions I made in my life!
Not only are we part of life, but we are life – and life is not made to be lived in compartmentalized, mass-produced plastic, brick and metal boxes, cut off from the moment to moment reality we see and feel around us. To live a rustic life is to live the life we were ultimately made for.
Could your life be more simple, more rustic? What experiences, projects, or goals do you have for rustic living (if any)? Share them with me below