“Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: “Is this the condition that I feared?”. In days of peace the soldier performs maneuvers, throws up earthworks with no enemy in sight, and wearies himself by gratuitous toil, in order that he may be equal to unavoidable toil. If you would not have a man flinch when the crisis comes, train him before it comes”. Seneca
Wow those Stoics knew a thing or two about living…stoically. In these lockdown times many of us have been challenged to live with less. Less outings, less people, less money, alas not always less food (with cupboard proximity and all). It hasn’t always been comfortable as the initial sourdough starters and zoom drinks taper off into 2-minute noodles and meme sharing but we have had the chance to see ourselves handle discomfort which hopefully will fortify us for future sticky spots. Perhaps we can take a piece of parchment from Seneca’s book and continue these ways in the feast times so we fear not the famine.
I thought I already lived-with-less but life in a small space had previously meant much time spent in the gym, library or café which acted as a sort of extension living room. And living on one’s own means much of the human contact is incidental-a shared wince with a stranger over the ‘10 more’ in a Body Pump class, a giggle with a girl over “The Gruffalo’s warty nose” in the Picture Book section or a proffering of “The Sunday Paper Shiny bits” across the communal table. Sooner or later we’re all alone so this enforced time can only help me reckon with myself (and many thoughts have been spared for those who also reckon with mini humans). Never again will I lack gratitude for these simple pleasures and random exchanges with strangers.
People who lived through the Great Depression are famously frugal and resourceful and we have looked up to them as we plant Victory Gardens (with a boost from Bunnings), use Teabags twice and go from roast to leftover to broth (or have the intention to at least) in these trying times. If we can take on a Make Do and Mend mentality now, think of how crafty we’ll be if something potentially worse happens or the same again or even the thought of that.You may have heard gym bunnies spout that, “Summer bodies are made in the winter”, and you may have noticed that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself so let’s learn to live with a dive into discomfort sometimes.
A grocery-shopping free week at the end of each month sees me come up with creative combinations from the cupboard. Being the sole Swans supporter in a sea of Yellow-and-Black at school footy day builds a thick skin. My commitment to not buying clothes helps me realise that no one really notices (or cares to say) that I’m wearing the blue dress again. A cold burst at the end of each shower is super re-FRESH-ing. Me and most Melbournians have realised that while haircuts and beauty treatments have been missed, we can live without them and overlook the results. So, how can you train yourself to live the simple life so you don’t flinch when the crisis comes?
“We shall be rich with all the more comfort, if we once learn how far poverty is from being a burden”.
Much Love Yvette (the Younger) xoxo
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