Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Musings and Perusings

"That so few now dare be eccentric marks the chief danger of our time." - John Stuart Mill

I read this quote on a new gardening forum I'm trying out, and it really resonated with me. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be "different" vs. "eccentric" vs. "weird". Where is the line drawn? I mean, to some degree, one man's "weird" is another man's "eccentric". But there are certain people that everybody agrees are weird, and they are frequently alienated from society (often by their own preference).

I am not sure where Ethan and I fall in the different/eccentric/weird spectrum, but over the past year or so, I have noticed that we are definitely somewhere on it. We make life choices that many people, including a lot of our friends, do not understand. For example, we choose to be very frugal in a lot of ways, although our incomes do not require it. But we have goals for financial independence, which we strive to achieve through frugality. And most of the things we choose to be frugal about are things that we just don't appreciate enough to spend money on. Cable t.v. for example, or fine wine to drink with our at home dinners (we have boxed wine for our "house" wine).

Some of our choices come from my desire to lessen our negative impact on the earth or reduce the influence of chemicals on our bodies. I think if some people knew that I wash plastic bags for re-use, have given up paper towels, and am trying to consistently bake bread at home (sans bread-maker, no less), we would move a little further toward "weird" on the weirdness line.

And yet, compared to some of the people on that gardening forum, I feel like a hedonistic mega-consumer. We don't buy organic meat (too expensive). We don't raise our own goats (but I do kind of want to try chickens). And we don't make our own clothes (oh hell no. I'll patch things, but I'm no fashion designer).

So I'm trying to figure out how to be who we are, because I really like the direction we're moving, without becoming societal castoffs. I don't want to alienate my friends and coworkers by making them feel like I'm criticizing their lifestyles. I know that most people can't or won't make the choices we do. But I figure if, by living our lifestyle, we convince one person to recycle or line dry their clothes, we've made a positive impact. And that's good enough for me.


Lisa said...

bravo bravo! loved this post, seriously. And I LOVE that you reuse plastic bags, wish more people did, including me. you're an inspiration

Anonymous said...

Wow, you guys are very similar to us. We garden, compost, buy eggs from a lady I work with, joined a CSA, switched to cloth napkins 2 years ago, take canvas bags shopping, buy organic milk, but not meat because it's so expensive.

We are pretty much middle of the road. We have friends on D's side of the family that are way "crunchier", but we are more "granola" than most of our local friends.


sfw4514 said...

Being non-conformist doesn't make you eccentric. I think many of us are trying in our own way to lessen our footprint on Mother Earth. I use public transportation as much as possible. I compost for my flower garden (no veggies - the squirrels are too rampant). We recycle somewhat. And cloth napkins! You don't have to go the nuts and berries route, just try to think of ways to be kind. As to frugal - hey, spend or don't spend. So long as when you really want to do something you don't fall into the "later" pit. Do it! Life is short! And life was meant for living (it's hard to know what else to do with it). (Apologies to Noel Coward.)

mommysquared said...

I think you're far from alone, or "weird" in doing some of the frugal/mindful things you do. We all fall at different places on the lifestyles choices continuum at different points in our lives--and in different areas of our life--and where you are is, probably, always evolving.

And, even if your choices put you on the far end of the continuum--who cares? It's the standouts who are at the forefront of new ways of doing things and thinking about things that pull others into more widespread social change. The most interesting people to know are the eccentric ones. :)

L said...

Well, thanks for the support, everyone. I have to say that once I read your posts it reminded me that people I think are cool (not weird) are doing this stuff too.

And sfw4514, you think you are being sneaky, but I know who you are! ;)