Lesson Learned From a Broken Washer


washboardMy washing machine broke. The spinney part barely moves and the effort makes it sound like a barking seal. We have to use the laundry facility in our park until we can get a new one.

I needed a couple things cleaned yesterday and didn’t feel like walking in the rain to do it, so I hand washed them in the bathtub. Turns out that’s no small thing! It was only ten items, but the effort left me a little breathless and sore-armed from wringing.

That got me thinking about this age of convenience we live in, and the resulting clutter it brings to our lives.

Did you know that the average person in the early 1800’s only owned a few items of clothing? Usually one or two everyday outfits and then one for Sundays. Of course cost was a factor in how many clothes people owned, but so was effort. Effort to make them since they had so be hand sewn (can you imagine?) and effort to clean them. By hand.

Imagine living as an American pioneer. Living in a time when furniture, linens, clothing, and in some cases even dishes were hand crafted by the users. When food was raised by the people who ate it. When electricity and all the gadgets run by it were nonexistent. There were no supermarkets, bottled milk or sliced loaves of bread. The majority of the day in most people’s lives was spent surviving.

Imagine if your day was filled with growing vegetables, tending livestock, baking bread, making quilts, and washing dishes, clothes and bodies without running water. Would you have as many possessions as you do now? I know I wouldn’t! I imagine people back then took much more pride in what they owned because it was hard-earned. I imagine they only had what was completely necessary in their lives. Any more than that was a burden.

How many of us live that way today? I don’t. But it sure makes me want to get rid of a few things. How about you?


6 thoughts on “Lesson Learned From a Broken Washer

  • April 6, 2010 at 5:57 am

    I am definitely thinking of all the stuff we have accumulated as we are in the process of downsizing from a 1400 sq ft house with 2 car garage and 2 bathrooms to a 520 sq ft studio.

    I was raised with very few possessions and my mother cooked huge meals in a tiny kitchen so I know it’s possible.

    dkzody’s last blog post..Look, a post about school

  • April 6, 2010 at 6:33 am

    Wow! There’s nothing like a making a move like yours to make you reconsider all the “stuff”! Good luck to you!

  • April 6, 2010 at 7:40 am

    I do a lot of those things you mentioned. Only when I do them, I do them with the convenience of electricity and modern appliances and gadgetry. But I can’t help but think of how even though those people had a life of dealing mainly with survival, that simple life offers so many other joys that are thoroughly taken for granted today. My husband and I are making great strides toward scaling down AND powering down.

    Jenna Ann’s last blog post..Sunday journal

  • April 6, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Jenna Ann – I couldn’t agree more! I didn’t really touch on that in the post, but I think you are absolutely right. When we unburden ourselves of all the un-needed distractions, we’re free to actually enjoy living life!

  • April 6, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks for stopping by. Every now and then I post pictures of the tiny little studio apartment to give readers a feel for what we are doing. We are giving ourselves lots of time to accomplish this.

    dkzody’s last blog post..Look, a post about school

  • April 6, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    dkzody – I’ll have to stop by again and see – that’s quite a challenge!

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