Subterranean Complexity

Everything is so much easier when you’re camping. I know that a lot of people would beg to differ on this, but I stand by it. I’m talking about routine tasks like sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms and washing dishes. First of all, there’s just less of everything – less surface area to scrub, less cookware used, less dust. There’s more dirt, but it’s nice earthy dirt that doesn’t make you sneeze, and (in my view) actually supports your immune system.

I guess another way of putting it is that things are just simpler in the outdoors. You do things more efficiently, which leaves more time for stuff like strolling, swimming, pottering and pondering. This, in turn, means you end up relying less on elaborate activities and comforts in order to feel good. I realise I’m sounding pretty crunchy right about now, but it’s true. Go camping and recall this truth for yourself.

Things get even easier when you have a really streamlined kit – think rocket stoves and composting toilets. Goodbye, gas bills and plumbers! Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s fantastic to live in a time and place of excellent sewerage systems, not to mention on-demand sewer repair. Melbourne in the 21st century is certainly where it’s at on that score.

But at the same time, it’s just more complexity that our lives don’t need. You’ll know this if you’ve ever had to get someone in for drain repairs. Brighton, where I technically live, has contractors who are perfectly good for this. I’m more talking about the inherent nature of city life and how utterly dependent it is on these underground systems that most of us know nothing about. Surely, this way of living leaves us out of tune with the world.

Sure, there’s stuff that throws us out way more than drainage and sewer systems, like screen addictions and fluorescent lighting. Those things are on the surface, though, so at least we can see them. There’s a whole other layer of subterranean stuff going on.