Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Little Contradiction?

I recently ordered two books on Amazon. One I'd read about on a Homesteading site or in a magazine somewhere. The other, I saw at a Barnes & Noble recently. They both came to the house within days of each other, and both ended up on our coffee table side-by-side.

The result was somewhat humorous.......

HA HA HA HA! Ok, what gives? Well, the first book, "The 'Have More' Plan" is a book that was written back in the 50's (I believe) by Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, a couple that left the noise and pollution of New York City for a life in the country. It was their effort to educate others and help people see what kind of life there was to be had in living in the country. If you can get past the dated pictures and weed through the bad advice (like using DDT laced pesticides on your garden, or battery raising chickens), it's not a bad book at all. The Robinsons were actually recommending a life of country living, aka homesteading, as being a life where you could 'have more'. Not more in terms of cars, house, clothes... wealth as defined by culture. But rather, a wealth defined by hard work, good food, clean air, family, and self-reliance.

The second book, by Peter Walsh of TLC Channel fame, is his take on regaining control of your 'stuff'. This isn't another "how-to-organize-you-closet-in-fourteen-easy steps" book. His whole premise is that our culture has become one of 'stuff acquisition' to the point that our stuff now owns us rather than the other way around. People's lives are falling apart due, in large part according to Peter, to their homes being out of control. The one place they should be able to go to recuperate, recharge, and regain some sense of themselves is so full of junk, they can't think straight. He doesn't talk about how to store things. He talks about getting rid of things. Cleaning up, clearing out, mastering the stuff. He looks at the reasons behind why we keep all the things we don't think we can part with, and challenges us to make hard choices.

Well, even before I got the book, something in me snapped. I started cleaning out. (Which did help my mood a bit- see the previous post). I went through all kinds of stuff and took tubs of papers, catalogs, magazines, household stuff, nonsense... all to the recycle center or Goodwill. Our computer desk is actually cleared off and doesn't look a wreck. Melora has room for her school books on the shelves, my sock drawer isn't so full I can barely shut it, and our kitchen is a lot more empty of plastic containers.

Well, the two books do look rather contradictory sitting next to each other. But when you know what they're both talking about, they're not too far off from each other. In their own ways, they both seem to say, "Less is More"!


Melonie said...

How funny - my copy of The "Have-More" Plan arrived a few days ago too! I personally enjoy the "dated pictures" - I prefer to think of them as "vintage". *chuckle* But I agree with you about the DDT and battery chicken cages. I've seen the DDT mentioned in other places too - particularly in reviews where folks discount or attack the book because of this. I don't think they paid attention to Storey Publishing's forward to the book (the reviewers, not you LOL) that this IS dated information, and they are sharing it as is for the effect of the entire book, not to lead us to believe that it's still okay in practice.

I think those of us who are truly seeking to "have more" (with less) will be able to get through those issues to the Good Stuff in the book quite easily.

I'll have to check the library for the other book you mentioned. I'm an avowed follower of the "what else can I get rid of this month?" concept. My ma says in another few years I'll have nothing but books, carpet, and the kids.

Hmmmmmmm.... :-P

rob said...

This is great! I bought the 'Have More Plan' and I was shocked by the DDT and the Hybrid advice they offered.

To me the real strength of this book are the overall plans and structures they tell you how to build. It isn't in depth, but if I have a good picture of something I can duplicate it, and the book has some great diagrams.

The hog pen is a little over-done and they definitely don't seem to be pro 'free-range' but it's a decent enough book to have.

Great post!