What is the one modern convenience that you couldn’t do without? I see on many discussion boards people detailing the possessions they have sold or the services they have surrendered with the intent on using the freed up money to pay off personal debt. Ken Ilgunas even went so far as to live in a van to save money while attending grad school at Duke University. You can read his incredible story here.
Frankly I think we don’t truly appreciate our modern conveniences. I guess that is only human – our natural desire to take things for granted. We don’t give a second thought to getting a glass of cold water, pulling up a webpage or driving across town. In many parts of the world those things don’t ever happen.
Nobody likes to be inconvenienced. But I’m going to make the radical suggestion today that, on occasion, it might be good for us.
If you have been reading here recently you know that Mrs. Luke1428 and I have been preparing to take our four children on their first camping trip. It has been really exciting purchasing our gear and planning out our list of activities. We planned a four night excursion just an hour south of where we live, just in case we had to come home early because of a camping meltdown.
All in all we had a great time! (I’m just happy we survived.) However, upon reflection during the week, these three thoughts kept coming to mind:
1. Camping creates much more work for an adult than it does for a child
2. Camping is a really tiring activity (see #1)
3. Camping forces you to rethink routines and appreciate the conveniences of home.
On point #3, here are some ways I was slightly inconvenienced while on our camping trip.
1. Food storage – Coolers. I remember one of the camping rules we had growing up was that we were not allowed to open the cooler. Coolers need to stay cold and having a kid opening it every two minutes to get a snack does not really work. At home it doesn’t really matter. The refrigerator keeps items cold and frozen by using electricity to power its cooling agents. Not so at the campsite. Ice became my best friend, as we had to manage keeping the food cold.
2. Food Security – Animals. If a camper leaves a loaf of bread sitting out at night they may have some unwelcome guests at two in the morning. So every time we left the campsite we had to move our tubs of food into a vehicle so the smell would not attract wildlife.
3. Food Preparation – Cooking. No microwaves. We only had a small, two-burner Coleman stove and some items to help us cook over the fire. And cooking over a campfire can be a challenge in that it requires just the right degree of heat. Too little flame and the food takes forever to cook. Too much flame and you will burn breakfast.
4. Meal Cleanup. Surprising…there are no automatic dishwashers at the campsite. The dishwashing must be done by hand. (Note to campers: This is a great kid job!) And there is no automatic hot water at the campsite. We had to heat all the water for cleaning dishes.
5. Restrooms. It was about a 90 second walk to the bathroom from our campsite. Better not leave too late – you might not make it.
6. Sleeping. Tent camping brings with it many sleeping challenges, the most notable of which is nighttime noise. If you have ever spent the night in a tent you know how loud nature can be and that noise helps create a restless night of sleep.
7. Protection From the Weather – Surviving Thunderstorms. On day two, we were met with a severe thunderstorm at about 10:00 p.m. In our home, that would not be a big deal, but thunderstorms in a tent are nerve racking. We had to spend about an hour in the van as the thunderstorm passed us by.
There were a host of other inconveniences like insect control and lack of air conditioning that we had to face. We were by no means really roughing it as we still had nearby water, electricity and cell phone service. We even had my iPad so the kids could watch a movie in the van during the thunderstorm.
But being in this environment for just a few short days made me appreciate more the conveniences I have at home. I also believe it was good to force my mind to think through alternative ways to accomplish tasks. It’s easy for our minds to go on autopilot as we work through our daily routines. Sometimes getting away from those routines is good mental stimulation.
So was it worth it for me to be slightly inconvenienced for the week? Absolutely! Seeing the joy on our children’s faces as they stuffed their mouths with Smores each night made it all worthwhile.
Is there a convenience that you could never give up? How do you keep yourself from taking things for granted?
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