Friday, 22 October 2010

The Amish Way

A little while ago I saw a documentary on the Amish in North America. The Amish originated from Switzerland but were cast out of the country and migrated to the Netherlands where the boats for the New World were waiting. And so they settled, in North America, small communities dotted all over the place, living a life completely independent from the rest of the world. Fascinating. The Amish still speak the oldest form of Swiss German and they live solely off of the land they live on.

At some point in their culture, when the Amish hit their teenage years, they are "sent out" into the "real" world to practice what they call 'Rumspringä' in order to learn from the 'real' world and make a choice if they want to stay Amish or join the real world. In this three part documentary we accompany four teenage Amish kids to the UK and watch them learn about other less religious youth groups.

What struck me most, although the Amish are strictly religious, they seemed far from judgmental of the other more 'wilder' kids. How refreshing; a religious group that wasn't imposing their beliefs onto others. Quite on the contrary - what seemed more fascinating was that the 'modern' kids were learning quite a lot from the Amish, realizing that life could be filled with more things than just TV, beauty products, sex and booze.

Despite all the learning that was happening from all - what hit me was how completely independent the Amish were - all of their food is harvested from their fields, they build their own houses and barns, they don't use electricity (oil lanterns instead), for the winter they preserve all of their food in glass jars, they make their own clothes, furniture, there's no waste, no excess in products, just simply what they need. Uncomplicated. And I must say, tempting; to be able to live a life without all outside influences, a life so simple, easy and to the point. And with a life so simple like the Amish, so are their feelings, very rarely do they fight or find disagreement, they seem incredibly Zen at all times, smily and chilled. I guess that would happen to anyone who didn't feel the need to be greedy, because you already have everything you need.

The only down part is their strict religious beliefs - as far as singing goes, this is only done if you're singing for and about God, no paintings, no music, nothing really creative besides embroidery, dresses and quilts... so obviously the Amish way of life wouldn't really be my thing, unless of course they allowed me to sing about anything and whenever as well as write and draw and paint...

However, what got me thinking was the dependency we have on one another in this 'modern' world. Something that seemed to scare the Amish from the real world. This is something that freaks me out sometimes as well. If there ever should be a Third World War, I'd be fucked - I wouldn't know how to grow my own food, sew my own clothes or build my own house. Sure, maybe out of necessity I would learn, and I'd learn fast, but I wouldn't have those skills at first...

Key word is independence. How self sufficient are we really? How much do we rely on other people to get things done in life? Not just in the larger schemes of things, but even in our own little worlds. How much do we depend ourselves onto others to make us happy? To help us find and feel love? To feel wanted? To inspire us? To motivate us?

Out of necessity we should be responsible for our own happiness, our own motivation, our own creative choices. You are in charge of your day, how you feel and what thoughts you keep in your head. You can choose your thoughts like you can choose what you want to wear in the morning.

I truly believe to love someone, try loving yourself first. If you don't know how to love yourself then you don't really know how to love a potential someone special. And I've been there. I've loved someone before myself, and I became addicted in the unhealthy way. I didn't even know if I loved the person for who he was and was more addicted to the love he gave me because I lacked it for myself.

We are responsible for ourselves. If you want something, you go get it. Don't wait. It won't come.

Key word is independence. Maybe not quite the Amish way, I like my music, sex and booze far too much, but maybe I'll consider the Amish-way-of-independence...

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