The Cost of Convenience

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It is incredible how much we pay for convenience. Especially when there are hidden costs that so few are actually aware of.

I have been thinking about convenience a lot recently. The first time I had a flash of musing about it was when we planted Peas in our garden and upon eating the first, precious and delicious Pea, I realised how much time, effort, nutrients, water and patience went into producing this one Pea. The thought that followed was how earlier that week, I had seen a 2-for-one special on punnets of Mounge Tout (ie young, flat Peas picked early before the actual Peas form in their pods).

I was suddenly struck with indignation and bright realisation, as if the sun rose straight to midday heat inside my head after a long night:

How and why on Earth have we reached a place where we pay so much for convenience? It took so many weeks for that one Pea pod to grow, and yet we are delighted in the shops when we buy 2-for-1? That is just stock the shop wants to get rid of, either because they got it cheaply or because they want to get rid of it. Either way, it isn’t consciously chosen by us. Nor does it honour how much time it actually takes to make things, nor the process involved in the life of growth and the growth of life.

The next tier of thought took me to a new station entirely. I pondered:

Why do we pay someone MORE to provide us with products as well as for taking from us the chance to make/grow things ourselves?

This is absolutely ludicrous. Possible responses one may have:

  • I don’t have time. BS. We don’t MAKE time. Everyone makes time to mine the internet for invisible nuggets.
  • I don’t know how. …because we haven’t tried yet. When you start making things, one realises one’s infinite capacity to create.
  • I don’t want to. Really? Have you ever tried?
  • I can’t. Really? Says who? Have you ever tried? If you think someone is better than you at it, sure you are right. Someone is also worse than you at it. And at a similar level. But no one can make something just the way you can. Isn’t that leagues more meaningful than something so petty, binary and actually illogical as “better” or “worse”?

I am a big fan of rituals and symbolic action, and feel that there is such value of integrating it more into our lives. The art and heart of craftmanship is an important part of this. Waking up to the truth that we, as humans, can do and create anything we set our minds, bodies and hearts to is an extraordinary capacity that sets us apart as a species, in a way that calls us into a place of stewardship and responsibility. If we buy everything from the shop and then throw it away when it gets a bit tatty in favour of something new or bigger or better, we just build a high tower on which we try to precariously live rather than actually experiencing the heart of life where growth begins – in and on the ground.

There is nothing better than homegrown food, and nothing better than handmade belongings. If we truly honoured the process, time, resources and effort it took to make things, I feel like we would have less things. Especially if we had to make them ourselves. It’s also a lot more fun!

Here are 2 videos that inspired me greatly and raised some questions in me.

  1. The Birth Of A Tool: As a woman wholeheartedly passionate about tools and craftmanship, after making my own knife with a dear friend, this video brought silent tears to my eyes.

I love the clarity of the actions, the methodical, deliberate, highly skillful and elegant visual representation of this laborious, lengthy process; so many hours summarised into a few mere minutes. The heart of craftsmanship.

2. Man Makes Every Part Of A Sandwhich From Scratch: The concept of this blew me away before I had even watched the video. It took him SIX MONTHS and $1500 to create a sandwhich that it takes us a few seconds to knock up in the kitchen. In the shops, with a sandwhich as well as other products, the most we do is to read the label. This is a very reactive way of accumulating. I think there is great value in returning to a place where we realise what we want/need, dream how it could be and then make it ourselves. This perhaps extends metaphysically far beyond sandwhiches, as it was likely never about sandwhiches anyway.

It is about creation, empowerment, regenerative living and building a circular economy where things are made with their next life in mind ie made to last, knowing that when their one functional life comes to an end, their parts can be used elsewhere or made into something else.

So while we may convince ourselves that convenience saves us time, there is great value in wondering what convenience costs us? What do we actually do with that extra time we “save” as a result – do we invest it nourishing ourselves and lives or do we squander it? Did we even consider if we could dream something up and create it ourselves? We may think we want something, but perhaps we are actually just yearning to create, in which case buying the something will not satisfy at all, and we may keep accumulating trying to fill that void when in fact making one thing with items lying around the house with no need to spend a cent may be exactly what we need?

So before we buy something next, perhaps there would be value in asking ourselves a question that may raise many others, and it isn’t about the answer but more about the exploration:

Do I want/need this, can I create it myself, how could I do it innovatively and uniquely without buying into a throw-away culture of convenience, how could I build up those skills within myself?

Here’s to a handpicked, handmade, heartfelt life.

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