Alright, so you have to shave so you don’t scare children on the street. You want to have coffee in the morning so… well, so children on the street don’t scare you. You want to listen to music to relax on the weekends or evenings, and you need to work out because health is paramount.
So now you have a razor. Maybe you got it from Dollar Shave Club, I hear they’re the new hotness. Or maybe you have the Gillette ColdFusion Supreme™, or maybe you have some torture-device looking metal contraption with 2 motors and a “clean” function on the base that it docks into to charge every day. You walk over to your coffee maker with 8 buttons, a dial, and stunningly, a digital analog clock. It has a replaceable charcoal filter and makes a solid 12 cup pot.
Now you have a subscription to Spotify. You have your Sonos speaker system and your phone with the LTE plan so you can stream from the cloud. You have a wireless receiver in your speakers so you can cast music from anywhere. Amazing! Now you can take your music and go to the gym with that premium membership. You can hop on the exercise machine that moves every which way and get to working up a sweat.
This was me until the past year or so.
We’ve surrounded ourselves with things that we label as convenient. We want to optimize for convenience, sometimes ignoring the cost of what we’re sacrificing to get said convenience. We get the big box items or the expensive trinkets thinking they’re going to make us happier. Turns out that the things which have truly made me happier are the things and tools that just work, and work well without needing to be complicated.
Let’s talk about some examples.
Shave, Don’t Rip
About a year and a half ago, I switched to using a straight blade razor. That is a tad extreme, I admit, but I adore it. It is admittedly a little dangerous, so you may be inclined to try a safety razor first, which is closer to your everyday razor but still uses classic razor blades.
The reasoning here is two-fold. The first, and more realistic reason, is that modern razors tend to be bad for your skin. The multi-blade razors cut the hair below your skin, which can cause in-grown hairs. Nobody wants that.
The second reason is that using a safety razor, or in my case a straight razor, leads to a more deliberate shave. You focus on the task at hand, and it can give some much needed peace and concentration in the morning.
It also helps that my preferred shaving cream smells amazing.
Coffee Pot, Meet French Press
I grew up in a family that used a coffee pot. A big ol’ drip coffee pot. Now, there is definitely nothing wrong with that, but it’s something that snuck by in my life without being questioned. Does this thing really make good coffee? Are the replaceable filters for the water really worth the effort and money? Is cleaning out the grinds after every pot worth it? I was using a reusable filter for the grinds, but most people just use paper filters, which are yet another thing you need to keep buying and just build up waste.
While we still had our drip pot, I invested in a coffee grinder in an attempt to improve the quality of our coffee. That has proven to be a nice investment. More recently, we turned our coffee game on its head and replaced our drip pot with a french press.
I know most people in the coffee-o-sphere would probably recommend an Aeropress or a Chemex, but we went for the tried and true french press. I had an Aeropress for a while, and I did enjoy it, but it had a lot of moving parts and takes a decent amount of tinkering with brewing methods to make the kind of coffee I was looking for. When you have to argue about normal vs “inverted” methodology, it’s time to look elsewhere.
The french press has made our mornings a joy. We boil some water in our electric kettle, pour in the water, mix in the grinds, and wait. Press the plunger and boom: the best coffee I’ve ever had. Then, a quick rinse through in the sink and we’re done with cleanup. We get plenty of coffee for the two of us in the morning with a 32 ounce press. We’ve even taken cream and sugar out of the mix since the quality of the coffee is so much higher.
You Guessed It: Vinyl
Vinyl has made such a comeback that it’s already cliche. Worth it.
I do have a Google Play All Access subscription, and I really enjoy it. However, like most people in 2016, I spend almost all day around computers and phones and screens. Sometimes I just want a break from all the tech, and Vinyl is a wonderful escape. Ms Rustic Walks and I have built up a modest collection of our favorite albums on Vinyl that we keep on tap for emergency music needs.
Our first turntable was a bit of a bust, but after some research I purchased an Orbit Turntable by U-Turn Audio. It’s a bit pricey but this little guy works great, and it’s as simple as a motor and a band. Nothing fancy, nothing automatic, just right. I feel at peace when we can turn off all of the screens, and there is still something magical about a thin disk that plays my favorite music when placed on the turntable.
Working Out Without the Price
Turns out, the world is a pretty good gym. Typically, gyms do what they can to convince you that having a membership will make you fit. Well, the reality is that’s not how it works. Sure, one may enable the other, but it doesn’t happen without you dedicating to working out and improving your health.
You actually don’t need anything but your own motivation to do that, and spending money on a gym membership is not a good way to get that motivation. Too often, I’ve heard “well, I have the membership so I’ll feel bad if I don’t go.” That is a pretty bad outlook and may just lead to wasted money.
Consider a workout routine that uses your body and either your existing living space or the outdoors. You can run, do pushups, crunches, squats, planks, pull-ups and more without paying a cent to a gym or buying any expensive tools. My workout gear consists of a pair of running shoes and two dumbbells that I almost never use. I’ve taken to running and in-home circuit training to tire myself out when I want a good workout.
Here is my basic 15 minute morning workout:
- 10 Lunges (or squats if I’m feeling bold)
- 20 high-knees (basically run in place but bring your knees up as high as you can)
- 15 pushups
- 30 crunches
- Repeat until sufficiently pooped
The reps are not set in stone, and certainly can change from person to person, but that is enough to get me a solid workout. I’ve never felt better in my life, and I don’t need to pay a cent in membership fees.
Make Things Matter
Look, I know that for a lot of people convenience is key. That is totally fine, but my suggestion would be to find some things in your daily routine that could be looked at a little more closely. You might find that there is some joy that can be found in the simplest of things. For me, it’s all of the above, mixed with a few others.
I’m not saying you should go out and buy a bunch of stone-age stuff. In fact, I certainly don’t want anyone to go out and buy a bunch of stuff, period. I do, however, think that by taking some of the tech out of our lives we can get a little closer to the things we love.
Trust me, I’m a programmer. We can do without the tech. 🙂