It’s not easy to see through the consensual illusions that buying stuff will make you happy. But the people I’ve met through MAKE have succeeded, to one degree or another, in deprogramming themselves of the lifelong consumer brainwashing they’ve received. They’re learning how to stop depending so much on faceless corporations to provide them with what they need (and desire) and to begin doing some of the things humans have been doing for themselves since the dawn of time. They’re willing to take back some of the control we’ve handed over to institutions. They believe that the sense of control and accomplishment you get from doing something yourself, using your own hands and mind, can’t be achieved in any other way. They make things not because they are born with a special talent for making but because they choose to develop and hone their ability. And yes, some of the things they make are mistakes, but they aren’t afraid of making them, because they’ve rejected the lesson from Bernays school of brainwashing that says handmade stuff is bad because it isn’t perfect.
Mark Frauenfelder (Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World)
I posted a new article on the Ethel Your Day Blog about why I’m a Do-It-Yourselfer. I’ll be doing sister posts here whenever I post over there. You can also see when I post at Ethel on their Facebook page.
If you’ve been reading my blog for long you know that if I can make it myself, I will. I’m a DIYer to the core. It’s not that I was born with the skill to make stuff, I have to study and research before I try something new. I think it’s more about not allowing the fear of failure to hold you back. We live in a world that doesn’t value the importance of failure and the learning that can come through it. As Mark says in Made by Hand: “Mistakes are not only inevitable-they’re a necessary part of learning and skill building. Mistakes are a sign that you’re active and curious. In fact, recent brain research suggests that making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn.”
Mr Chiots and I are willing to try to just about anything once or twice. Sure we’ve failed at plenty of things, but that never holds us back. We have our share of mishaps here at Chiot’s Run, we were just talking the other day about how I need to write more about these on the blog. For example, sadly our bees did not make it through this winter. We’re going to start again next spring with a new type of hive that we’re going to build ourselves. We’re also going to requeen not long after with bees that have been bread to be more hardy in our climate. Our beekeeping wasn’t a failure, we simply learned through the process and next time we can implement the things we’ve learned.
We also had trouble with the fish in our little pond, the ones we got from the pet store didn’t make it, they all got ick. Which I found out is common with pet store fish that are constantly medicated for it. We got some from my parents pond that lived for quite a few months, but they didn’t make it through the winter. We’ll try again this spring now that the water should be much more conducive for fish.
I spend a lot of time reading and researching the things I’m interested, before I start. Usually by the time I’ve started the project I have read tons of website articles and 4-10 books about the project I’m tackling. My next DIY project is to grow my own mushrooms. So I’m reading a 500 page textbook about it and have a few other books waiting on deck. I ordered mushroom spawn for 6 different kinds of mushrooms and started setting up my mushroom growing area in the woods. You’ll be hearing more about this fairly soon.
Mr Chiots and I are also thinking about purchasing a tool that will allow us to mill our own boards from the large oak, maple and poplar trees that we’re going to have taken down on our new lot. With these boards we’ll be able to make a new dining room table and some raised beds. How wonderful it will be to sit at our dining room table made of wood from our garden eating vegetables that grew where the tree once stood. We’re also in the beginning stages of planning a tiny teardrop trailer that we’re going to build for our travels (remember that month long trip out west we’re planning this summer?) I think we’re DIYers because we love to do things for ourselves, we’re not afraid of failing, and the process is definitely memorable – some of our best memories were made while working together on a project!
What is something you’ve always wanted to try to do for yourself?
For further reading on the benefits of doing it yourself check out these books:
Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World
Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House
Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work
Thinking Through Craft