Jenny and I recently went into Amish country where we learned about a different way of life on two different tours. We rode a buggy. We interacted in the homes of the Amish. We saw them at work. Something else we did was confirm what we already knew: no group of people might be better at minimalism than they are.
There are plenty of misconceptions about the Amish. They can use electricity. Some even have cell phones they leave outside of the house which are used primarily for business. There is no such thing as an Amish kid either. No, those aren’t just unusually small adults you have seen running around. It’s not until around 16 when children can actually be accepted into the Amish community and slap that label on themselves. Before that, they’re not even technically Amish until baptized at 16+. I’m not quite sure what they call themselves until then. Everyone who isn’t Amish is referred to as “The English.” That I can confirm.
The Amish are a group of people whose belief system is different from the modern world. That’s kind of the point. They don’t want to be held back by the government in any way. As minimalist as they are, they aren’t always the most practical. This, and my lack of a beard, confirm I am not one of them.
The Amish are minimalists but not practical people
We chose the name for our site, Practically Humans, because we don’t define ourselves strictly as minimalists. We try to practice minimalism as much as we can. We do it because the minimalist lifestyle is practical.
Practicality, however, can be lost with the Amish way of life. Their lack of electricity and other aspects of their life reaches a different level than what would be comfortable for most people. Where do they even get their white noise to sleep?
Many Amish don’t have bathrooms in their homes or businesses because of a lack of running water. They still have outhouses. On the spectrum of practicality, the outhouse is at the complete opposite end of an Alexa. Although, if Amazon could invent an Alexa with a toilet…
I need to get to a patent office ASAP!
To me, being practical is about causing the least amount of inconvenience as possible. Having to go outside just to relieve yourself is complicated. It’s inconvenient. It’s not fun.
As we learned during one of our tours of Amish country, a buggy can cost around $10-12,000. This doesn’t even include a horse to pull it. This is more than we paid for our car which we’ve had for more than five years. I’m not sure how long a buggy will last. It probably depends on how heavy the tourists who ride it are.
Buggies just aren’t sensible. The Amish often need to hire a cab company or grab an Uber in order to get places a horse might not be able to drag them to. The Amish are limited in travel. They lose a lot of time just going places.
It isn’t forbidden for the Amish to ride in cars or doing many other things we do in our more technological-dependent lives. If they pass by a television, nothing stops them from watching it. In many ways, it’s hard to always know what they can and cannot do. A lot of it seems to come back around to being a bit of a minimalist and less dependent on worldly possessions.
Much of what the Amish do makes sense and does have a practical outlook on things. Their kids stop going to school after eighth grade so they can focus on a trade. Honestly, how much do we learn in high school other than how few people want to go to prom with us?
I’m sure I’ll write more about our Amish experience. Their way of life is fascinating and fits into the way Jenny and I think about minimalism and being practical. They know about the world yet they choose to stay away from it as much as possible. It’s refreshing.
The Amish set a new standard for minimalists. They just aren’t always the most practical with it.
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