The following excerpts from [Callenbach, Ernest. Living Cheaply With Style. Ronin Publishing, 1993.] resonate with my own attempts at expressing who I am. One of my favorite words has become enough: “sufficient to meet a need or satisfy a desire; adequate.” Callenbach is definitely writing from within a specific political “box” (which is more than evident in later passages of his book), and I like to keep as far away as possible from partisanship, but much of his voice rings true for me. –SB
from: Living Cheaply With Style:
To all who think for themselves and stay conscious of the choices that shape their lives . . .
To all who know in their bones that enough is enough, and want to figure out how much that is . . .
To all who understand that thrift, ingenuity, and resourcefulness mimic nature and help preserve the Earth . . .
To all who wish to survive with grace, humor, imagination, and a little help from their friends . . .
The aim of the book is to equip you to live a better life–more relaxed, more confident, more resilient, more loving, more thoughtful, more satisfying, more genuinely stylish–than you could possibly have with a lot more money. It’s not easy to live in America today, and for many of us it’s getting steadily harder. But if we learn to live smarter and with less dependence on the money economy, we can tap a rich potential for sustaining healthy, productive, and happy lives–lives with real personal style. This book will both provide you with the knowledge and suggest the change in attitudes that can enable you to escape from the mental oppression of our commodity-crazed society, and to focus on what’s really important in life: our human relationships both inside and outside the family, our communities, our physical and mental health, our contributions to the world, and the infinite pleasures and delights life can offer that are not dependent on cash.
You live with style when you live in a self-determined and original way that is authentic for you, when you do things you enjoy because you enjoy them and not because you read about them somewhere or heard that somebody famous and rich enjoys them. You live with style when you keep your mind free to invent ways of thinking, feeling, and doing that suit you, rather than some corporate marketing department. You live with style when you rely on your own practiced judgment rather than somebody else’s pronouncements.
Thus style is a matter of independence, even rebellion; we’re not talking here about fashion, which is a matter of commercially fostered fads. America offers a paradoxical living environment, because on the one hand we praise independence of spirit, but on the other hand we are a nation of sheep in our consumer behavior, regularly duped by advertisers. In our commercial life and in our political life, we have become a nation of chronic liars. Living with style means turning away from lies, being your own person–though also realizing that as human beings we are social and sociable animals whose safety and serenity inevitably depend heavily on others. Part of the pleasure of living cheaply with style is to share your tricks and achievements with others, to build a counter-culture in which human beings can live more comfortably and satisfyingly, and to help make American life saner and more humane.