This might seem paradoxical, and it probably is, but adding more chores to my daily life has actually given me the feeling I am more in control of my life. For example:
- I could go to the supermarket to buy everything there, but I do an additional shopping trip to the local market. Or collect fruits directly from the tree whenever I can.
- I could buy industrial food, but I make my own yoghurt, jams, pies, pizza and alcohol (yum!).
- I could discard everything in the garbage, but I have five different bins for five different sorts of waste.
- I could go to stores to buy new things, but I shop second-hand.
- I could throw away used socks, but I darn them.
- I could use paper tissues, but I use cloth. Or even family cloth, for that matter.
- I could flush the toilet the usual way, but I flush it with the water from my shower.
- I could buy stuff for Christmas, but I offer homemade presents.
As far as I am concerned, these chores are not tiresome. I shouldn’t even call them “chores,” as they are in no way unpleasant. They’re part of my life and what’s more, they bring me pleasure. They actually make me feel I have a choice.
By buying my food in local markets, I feel empowered to support my community, promote agricultural practices I respect and create social links. By repairing clothes, I choose to reduce waste and not to let consumption madness enter my life. By using reusable cloth, I choose to help protect the environment. By offering homemade presents, I choose to remind my relatives that the value of a gift doesn’t depend on its price tag.
Some might call this backwards. Isn’t evolution supposed to drive towards a simplified life, with fewer and fewer chores? Society might not leave us as many choices as we want. We are forced into consumerism frenzy in the name of so-called progress. I have often felt my freedom of choice was reduced to “would you like to consume more or even more?”
These little actions, anecdotal as they seem, have allowed me to reclaim my freedom of choice. This may not be a revolution, I will not change the world, but at least this is my reaction towards a way of life I do not support. I want “to be,” not “to have.” And this string of chores allows me to be someone who confronts and rejects taken-for-granted practices.