Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The "100 Things" Guy

I keep seeing references on the internet to David Michael Bruno, the man who is trying to pare his belongings down to just 100 things. His blog, guynameddave, is some good reading and it got me thinking.

Owning just one hundred things--what an elegantly simple solution. What a clean, structured way to break free of our hoarding fetish. What an awesome tool for gaining clarity and breaking free of the consumer paradigm.

I've often thought that when my son is grown I'd like to live in a little hermit hut with just the essentials for survival. So I have to ask myself, if I were totally self-sufficient, i.e. off the grid and growing and raising my own food, would it be possible to do so with just one hundred things?

What do humans really need?

Here's what I would need. A shack for shelter, mattress and bedding, chair, table, woodstove, sink, toilet or outhouse, tub or shower (maybe), lights (solar, kerosene, candles...), pots, pans, jars, silverware and utensils, plates, bowls, mugs, canning equipment, grain mill, meat grinder (maybe), fridge (maybe), clothing, soap, hairbrush, t.p., and tools...lots and lots of tools.

Garden tools: shovels, spades, hoe, wheelbarrow, buckets, pots, hoses, watering can, rakes, trowels, pruners, scythe, and shears to name a few.

General homesteading tools and supplies: Post hole digger, ladders, fencing pliers, saws, a chainsaw (maybe), a mower (probably just my handy-dandy reel mower), handtools (now that could be a very long list!), clothesline, wash tubs and washboard, soap molds, brooms, scrub brushes, an ax, fencing, chicken wire, lumber, paint, watering troughs, feed bins, animal shelter, bee hives, root cellar, shelving, drying racks, barrels.

Luxury items: Writing desk, paper, pens, books.

So, that would all easily exceed one hundred things. But would it be excessive? I don't think so. Granted, hunter-gatherer societies have survived for aeons with just a few belongings, so I know we don't ultimately need much. We are animals afterall, and animals are innately geared to surviving in their environments without gadgets. But of course we have so degraded and distorted our environment, survival for us today is a more challenging affair.

A back-to-the-basics lifestyle, such as I dream of with my hermit hut, would for me represent a balanced lifestyle. Just enough, but not too much. A little impact on the environment, but a fair impact. And being free of excessive clutter would help me to blend in with my environment and become again a participant in my ecosystem, rather than something alien plunked down on top of it.

I have been in the process of paring down my life for several years and will continue to do so even after I'm in my hermit hut, I'm sure. But David Bruno has given me an interesting goal to shoot for. Apparently a lot of other people are taking up his challenge as well. There is now a group on FriendFeed for people who want to join the 100 Thing Challenge.

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