( Forgive my blurry photos. I forgot to pack my tripod. )
Currently Listening : The Waking up Podcast, Sam Harris
To the Moon and Back :
A few scientists in the Silicon Valley believe that in our lifetime, we, the common folk can visit a neighboring planet or a satellite. While I talk about sustainability on Earth, they talk of colonizing/inhabiting other planets as the future of mankind. Space travel should be something I can put on my bucket list and realistically save money for, they tell me. “Earth is so beautiful, why should I bother”, I ask. “Don’t be that person who refuses to travel outside your country out of some tribal sense of pride. To be curious, to experience, to explore, to invent, to collaborate and to create, is our learning pathway”, I get told. I got a taste of what its like to live in a NASA photograph while camping out at Joshua Tree National Park. The millions of stars visible to the naked eye, the big rocks, the topography, the cold nights, the vast emptiness …. A night at the Indian Cove Campground felt like a visit to the outer space. Nothing could have prepared me for it. No photograph nor my words can capture what can be experienced. I could really see the milky way !!! We lit a fire under the rocks and ate supper staring at the sky. We tried to stay awake and stare at the moon window of our tent for as long as possible. If you fall asleep, its gone and you got to wait another day to experience it again. The daytime is a different reality – dust, sand, wind, cactus, rocks & the sun. Please go if you can !
Left : You get your own little cave under the rocks. A camp fire never felt this primitive and raw.
Right : The stars visible from the moon window on top of our tent. Lay in silence and stare till you fall asleep.
SIMPLIFY, YEAR 2 REFLECTIONS
It gets easier.
I am thankful that I am not a refugee with no home & no future prospects. I am living a normal happy life. I am an immigrant. The news hints at how quickly the status quo can change given the times we live in. I am very thankful for the circumstances, ideologies and the nations that make it safe for me.
“What do you have enough of?” My answer would be really really long. I bought and bought over the years … and ran out of things I need. The FOMO is subsiding and I am okay with not collecting backups. I like what I own very much and there is only so much I can use+appreciate. I am okay with admiring beautiful garments I see in stores/runway and walk away with one thought – “isn’t it stunning?”. I need not attach the lines “I need it” to every item I find attractive.
Wearing a uniform has liberated me from the trends and temptation. I look at garments with a navy blue filter fitted to my eyes and can weed out most of the options. I can look at a stunning coat and tell myself that ‘my navy blue one looks great on me. I want to wear it more often’. If I spot a beautiful navy blue shirt dress, I can tell myself ‘mine is perfect. It has 2 more years of heavy use left in it. I am sure I can find the exact dress by Stevan Alan or something similar after 2 years. I don’t need to buy this one now.” Durable and practical clothes work on my behalf and give me good returns for the money spent.
I never formally did a capsule wardrobe other than put away the linens during fall and the woolens during spring. The right fabrics/silhouettes for the right season is my method. A capsule wardrobe is a frame of mind, rather than a set of clothes. You know how much you can realistically use, wear and love. You stick to the tried and tested formulae. You buy clothes that are easy to pair and work for everyday. You are trained to say ‘enough’ more often than ‘I need ___’. Its a frame of mind, not a count of garments. You do capsules and your brain automatically rewires itself on the concept of what a closet should look like. Once you see the benefits, its hard to relapse into excess and consumerism. An area of excess in my closet is my shoes. Instead of making me feel (rich with options)/(happy), they remind me of my greed. I can no longer revel in excess. I am overwhelmed by it.
Failures : On that note, I don’t know what to do about my shoes. They have become a case of concorde fallacy. That being said, I cant stop buying more. It will take me 20 years to wear out all the shoes I own.
There is a happiness when you can make decisions based on your priorities and aren’t zombie walking a prescribed path. It has been a relief. ( I dumped my Zara stock and can finally bash fast fashion without implicating myself. It wasn’t a smart financial move but its too much of a conflict of interest with what I write on the blog. ) I am proud of the zero waste habits I could inculcate. Just like you get used to the conveniences, I learnt that you get used to the inconveniences pretty quickly.
A tiny home has been working great for our family in terms of space. Our friends are pretty laid back people. I have made a few of them sleep under the dining table with our camping bedding/outside in a tent during sleepovers, and it was fine. Its not easy when the elder in the family visit. They are used to a different lifestyle. Harsha does experience some embarrassment when people visit. I, on the other hand, am the one reading about minimalism and the zero waste blogs, think this should be the normal. Its my theory that you get used to the inconveniences rather fast and we still live a very privileged lives. We will find a middle ground in the future, I hope.
I gave up eating lamb and beef. We cook chicken at home once every 10 days. The craving has definitely reduced. When we go out to restaurants with a group of people, I seem to go straight for the meat dishes. Going cold turkey on meat has always back fired on me. I am hoping that the consumption slowly reduces with time. Or atleast till Silicon Valley makes lab grown meat.
Hobbies were another area I scaled back. No, I dont really sketch or paint anymore. No, I wont become a food scientist. I dont need all the circuits I have to built at-home devices. I dont need more tools. I don’t need to cook food for all the cuisines of the world. Keep it simple. Pick one hobby and get good at it. I pick photography.
We slept in the forest under the stars for 22 days this year. Great conversations and the great outdoors is what I crave the most.
Exercise is the cure for lot of ailments in life. It’s more sustainable than buying stuff to catch happiness/escape the hardships of life.
The society we live in does not make it easy. ( I am no saint here. I link products on my blog. ) There is a constant chatter of what to buy next and whats on sale. Ethics are always “ethics”. Sustainability is always “sustainability”. Science has become “science” to the climate change deniers. If you decide to do things differently, its not an easy path from then on. But it all gets easier with time.
The profit from this year’s blog affiliate income has been donated to hurricane relief for Puerto Rico. Harsha and I went there on our honeymoon in 2012. The people were wonderful to us. On one of the islands, we rented a bike instead of a car at the airport. Riding the uphills with our luggage on a bike was a struggle. Passersby stopped and give us a ride to our hotel in their truck. There was another island where our car broke down in the middle of nowhere. A dozen strangers stopped by to see if they can repair the car. When that didn’t work out, a magnanimous stranger drove us to the airport which was 10 Kms away. We missed that flight. The pilot gave me a big hug to calm me down and managed to put me on the next flight out. I was a militant vegan back in the day. At one restaurant, they had nothing on the menu for me. The waiter took me into the kitchen and asked me to point at the vegetables I liked. The chef then made a stir fry. They made jokes about taking me to the farmers market the next morning and letting me pick out my vegetables, if I wanted to come back for dinner next day. I can easily write down 10 other stories of how help came to us when we didn’t even ask for it. If you clicked on the links through this blog, please know that you contributed to the relief fund. Thank you !
(Very important) Question of the week :
What do you have enough of ? Do you ever ask your self this question ?