And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Monday, March 31, 2008

Tickling My Mind

Last night I was thinking about "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.

Specifically, I have been thinking about this passage:

Dr. Frithjof Bergmann states:

For most of human history people only worked for two or three hours per day. As we moved from agriculture to industrialization, work hours increased, creating standards that label a person lazy if he or she doesn't work a forty-hour week...The very notion that everyone should have a job only began with the Industrial Revolution.

I will have to do some more research into these numbers, because the whole 3 hours of work a day thing just boggles my mind. I think maybe he wasn't counting into that time to prepare meals and clean up after them and other day-to-day activities, because they alone would take up 3 hours if accomplished without all of our modern conveniences.

Wouldn't they? Or would they not be considered work?

I do agree that things were much slower paced in times past, and I wish I would have been born then instead of in this time that insists on rushing forward at breakneck speed.

Imagine it.

I have been trying to imagine it all night, and I am intrigued. I think I could cheerfully make the changes to such a life. Granted, I would miss my microwave and hot showers whenever I want. Probably I would miss being able to watch some of my favorite movies. Of course I would miss you, dear readers. The rest? Not so much.

Still, no matter how I try to wrap my brain around the idea of only three hours of work a day I just can't do it. I imagine that there would be lots of things to do to fill time. Laundry would no longer be a simple matter of tossing clothes into the washer. Meals would have to be cooked from scratch. Firewood would have to be cut, clothing made and mended, dusting and sweeping taken care of. Dishes would be done by hand, and the water would have to be heated manually rather than coming out of a tap already scalding hot. Gardens would need tending, as would the family animals.

Even with all this work that would need to be done, I somehow feel that it would be an easier life. One would live their entire life with their family. There would be no waking to harsh alarm clocks, no racing to get things done on someone else's timetable. Chores could be done one at a time, rather than this "hyper-tasking" that everyone seems so fond of now. Children would grow up learning from their parents and living lives rich with imaginative play. Conversations would be spoken between people, rather than emailed or left on voice mails. Letters would come back into fashion. Oh, wouldn't that be fun? Imagine getting your mail and finding letters from friends and family who lived beyond easy visiting distance rather than a pile of bills and junk mail! I have always loved letters......

Anyway, I just thought you would enjoy a little peek into my mind.


Catty Ax Lady said...

I totally enjoyed peeking into your brain! I agree, even with so many things on their "to do" list, people in simpler times led...well, not an easier life, because we all know that physically it would be much more demanding than what most people do now. But everything was cyclic...people lived from the Earth, the Earth gave back to them, and although modern conveniences are, well, convenient, they've done nothing more than make time to do more...stuff.

I'm rambling, as I don't really know how to put into words what I'm thinking...but I really do understand your point, and I agree...oh to have been born back then.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Barefoot, Stop by when you have a chance...I have another "E" award for you.

willow said...

An interesting post. I've read of the three hours a day figure several times. It seems to be possible because everything was done as a community or small group. A few people would cook for the group while others, hunted or gathered food or washed clothes etc. I also don't know how "work" is defined but it seems to me that doing anything with others would make it more enjoyable and less like work as we think of it. I often think that compared with how people lived in the past, the "nuclear family" is a very solitary existence.

Deb said...

I've been thinking along similar lines a lot lately. I lose 40+ hours a week working a job, and the work I do is pretty trivial compared to being there for the kids, cooking meals, growing a garden, etc.

I would miss some of the stuff that industrialization has made possible, but I think the benefits you mentioned would far outweigh that.

Gina said...

I know that quote too (I recently reread YMOYL) and I guess I thought they meant "work" to be something that gave you an income of sorts (e.g. selling grain, building something for someone, etc.) I still find it hard to believe that farming only took 3 hours a day (w/o tractors and such), but they may have been averaging the hours over the stretch of a year (seed to selling the harvest).

I wish I could walk away from my job and actually work for my family. I struggle with this daily as I find my work to be trivial and unimportant compared to caring for my family.

Like you, there is not much in this current times I would miss (probably just the internet friendships I have).

CG said...

YMOYL helped me change my financial thinking nigh onto 20 years ago now. Thankfully. The 3 or 4 hour figure is also in The Cartoon Guide to World History (or The Universe, or one of them). I consider the Cartoon Guides to everything mandatory reading. The Nearings, of course, had their four hours a day of bread labor.

One thing on the cooking that we've taken up I really got from my grandparents -- fix breakfast and ONE BIG meal, the other meal being snacks and leftovers. When the big meal is changes for us, but for them it was "dinner" (which is now more commonly referred to as lunch).