Thursday, August 09, 2012

Amish Country

On occasion I feel a yen to adopt the Amish way of life.

These occasions usually coincide with a BBC documentary about Amish people being broadcast on TV but it is precisely this battle against my more superficial tendencies that gives the desire such weight in the first place. I get sucked in. I get immersed. For the space of an hour I believe that I too can lead a simpler, plainer, more Godly existence. That I too could raise a barn.

The thought of doing away with gadgets and electronics and the world wide web, I confess, has an appeal.

No more mobile phones. No more slavish umbilical-like connection to the internet. No more Facebook. No more Twitter. No more Viagra emails. No more links to nude photos of Keeley Hawes that at best don’t work and at worst install Trojans onto my hard-drive.

Life could be so much easier. So much cleaner.

Not that it would be totally without its complications. The documentary I watched last week stuck in my mind because of Mr Amish’s (I forget his name) admission that he had to fight constant internal battles to keep control of his own lust. For that reason he had imposed the desire upon his wife that she did not wear low cut or revealing tops. And by low cut or revealing tops we are talking about a single button being undone at the top as opposed to a V-slit that plunged all the way down to her barn-raisin’ vajazzle.

This was the man’s own wife, for Heaven’s sake. Surely you’re allowed to feel a little lust for your own wife? Surely it is a prerequisite to the marriage contract in the first place?

It was at this point in the documentary that my fantasy broke down. It was at this point that I realized I just didn’t possess the necessary spiritual and physical dichotomy to love someone but to consider any kind of physical expression of that love as being at odds with my spiritual development.

I guess I’m just too steeped in sin and the ways of the sinful world. Curse me and my irredeemable libido!

Giving up the internet and games consoles is easy. Any fool can do that. The real test is plainly cultivating a desire not to shag the person you’ve fallen in love with even though having kids is, spiritually, a good thing.

I know, I know. I’m over simplifying. And I truly don’t want to be glibly denigrating the Amish way of life because part of it definitely does attract me.

Back in 1996, during a whistle-stop tour of America and Canada’s East Coast, I actually visited a real life Amish town. Intercourse, it was called. And without a drop of irony too.

I kid you not.

I can remember we were allowed inside one of the houses though told not to speak to the occupants and to behave with a quiet sobriety  at all times. I felt extremely self conscious. We’d been informed that the Amish frowned upon any kind of adornment or needless decoration on their clothes and there was I, dressed in a leather biker’s jacket with tassels down the arms and a painted design on the back, and my lapels literally festooned in badges. Hey, I was in my twenties, OK, and more tasteless than I am now.

I remember feeling ashamed as the Amish woman went about her chores – putting a pile of freshly washed clothes through a mangle much the way my Nan did when I was a kid. I daresay she didn’t give me a second look – Lord knows how many tour parties had marched over her porch that week alone – but I felt petty, stupid and of no consequence. I felt foolish, vain and, paradoxically, deeply shallow.

It left a lasting impression on me and I stopped wearing the jacket and badges soon after.

And now whenever I read about or watch programmes about the Amish way of life I feel a small internal tug, a slight beckoning towards the ideal. And Lord knows there’s enough about modern life that repels me so I have a force driving me from behind too.

But I can’t quite reconcile myself to the complete Amish lifestyle. Not really.

I have a tendency to rather enjoy low cut and revealing tops. Alas, that internal battle is lost before it is even begun.

My mother always used to say I was born in a barn (because I’d never close a door behind me as a kid).

Sadly, I very much doubt I shall die in one.


P.S. Just as an aside: this is my 900th post...!

28 comments:

joebloggs said...

What goes, Cliperty Clop Cliperty Clop Bang Bang Cliperty Clop Cliperty clop?


An Amish drive by!

I too had a hankerin' for life in an Amish village but I think it had more to do with Kelly McGillis.

MOTHER OF MANY said...

Congratulations Steve on post 900 :)
I have also seen a number of tv documentaries and wondered about their lifestyle.
My biggest problem though has always been their health and the lack of care they seem to take of themselves. They do not believe in health insurance so the care they receive is not good.On the show about the Amish teenagers in the UK I was shocked to see the appearance of one of the Amish mothers, who was under 40 yet looked a LOT older .She had very bad teeth and her skin and hair looked aged and uncared for.They also have the added problem of having children with genetic problems which has come from so many years of intermarriage.
As for living without the internet and mobile phone, I could but life would be a lot less entertaining :)

Steve said...

Joe: funnily enough they played Witness on the coach ride back from the village that we visited. Not sure if that was meant to add to the attraction or not... seeing Harrison Ford milk a cow and then seduce Kelly McG.

Ally: so they don't really look like Kelly McGillis? OK. That may have killed the dream for me and Joe both.

Hannah Denski said...

Irredeemable libido...? : )

I also watched the very same program. It does make you think indeed... about many aspects of our lives... and likewise find it difficult to comprehend why would any man be scared to fancy his own wife... isn't that a fight with nature?

Congrats to your well written 900th post! Well done! As ever! :)

Steve said...

Hannah: I never thought that I'd be writing about my irredeemable libido after 900 posts, I can tell you...

Gorilla Bananas said...

Wait a darned minute, how can they have children without feeling lust for their wives? Methinks Mr Amish is a big jealous humbug who doesn't want other men looking at his wife's gorgeous neck. Don't tell me you've never fantasized about nibbling the neck of an Amish woman.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: I wouldn't tell you any such thing. Apparently the neck is only a delightful apéritif to the rest of them.

Tim Atkinson said...

Skilled use of the word 'dichotomy' there Mr Steve... 'spect!

And as for Mr B and his incredulity I have but one thing to say (well, two if you include his handle) - St Augustine.

As every avid reader of his 'Confessions' knows, sex is a duty, not a joy, to be undertaken reluctantly, but necessarily for the continued success of the species.

But then, he's an ape!

Steve said...

Tim: I wish I'd had more opportunity to do my duty when I was younger...

Wanderlust said...

Steve, you can move out here to the midwest. We are surrounded by Amish communities. You can go raise a barn by day and then hit the town at night. Best of both worlds.

I was actually having similar thoughts last night, courting wistfully with the idea of being digitally unconnected. Like the good old days when I read books and drew and made quilts (don't laugh, I really did). I realize all the time I used for those endeavors is now taken up by being online.

the fly in the web said...

Sounds like Adolph's phrase to me in respect of the lives of Amish women...
Kinder, Kuche, Kirche....

libby said...

Congrats on the 900!
I watched those programmes too....hated the first one about the guy who wanted the Lord to send him every thing for free...but enjoyed the others....although I don't agree with 'paddling' (or wooden spooning) kids, which one mother did. As for relinquishing the modern world? no..couldn't do it.

Steve said...

Wanderlust: it's scary how much time and energy these computers snatch from us... and we collude completely like the addicts we are.

The fly in the web: indeed - a complete absence of schlafzimmer.

Steve said...

Libby: I suspect it's a pipedream for me too. Here I am on holiday and still I have to check in online every now and then...

The bike shed said...

Congratulations, 900 posts is impressive - enough to build a barn with perhaps? Just think how many comments you have left too?

The idea of a simpler life is a one that appeals, though I agree that it shouldn't necessary involve foregoing some lust!

Nota Bene said...

900...fantastic posts...well done.

Now go and put the hair shirt on

Steve said...

The Bike Shed: lust is the tasty crust on the bread of life.

Nota Bene: my wife says I'm hairy enough. Sorry. Possibly too much info.

Fran said...

Only checking online every hour instead of every half-hour is the new Amish. Depressing. It's all getting out of control. I'm going to go and read a book now as a result of your post. Here I come, Mark Twain.

Steve said...

Fran: you can even get the Bible on Kindle now...

Suburbia said...

Congrats on 900!

( I find those programmes fascinating too!)

The Sagittarian said...

I know it is boring of me to bring this up again, but after the Feb 2011 earthquakes we were without power and clean water etc for ages, the simple life was actually a pain in the southern most oriface. I used to wonder if we didn't know any different how hard it would have been but the reality of the situation hit home every meal time, every poop time, the only time the 'romance' set in was when the kids were safely stowed in the caravan, the pizza oven was roaring to keep us warm and a glass of wine was in hand...and there we were, too exhausted to do anything other than gaze into the fire and try not to think about the next day when it would all start again. But I do know what you mean!! :-)

Steve said...

Suburbia: 900 - as old a Yoda!

Amanda: very good point. I don't think I'll be dispensing with the internet, the electric oven or the gas fire just yet...

Mrs Worthington said...

well done on reaching 900!I too have a secret yearn to go to an Amish retreat - usually when life is getting bit too mad. I usually satisfy this craving by watching witness whilst drinking a glass of red or three. You could always lower your sights and build a shed instead.

Steve said...

Mrs Worthington: a shed is not a bad idea at all. If only I could rope in the entire neighbourhood to build it for me Amish style...!

Nana Go-Go said...

Done......the book thingy....I reckon if I could manage the horrorfest that was 'Wallander'last night, I could maybe manage your book on Kindle.Good Luck with it. x

Steve said...

Nana Go-Go: bless you... though be warned. It gets uncomfortably dark...!

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

I've run out of firewood - and I'm mooching around the Secret Garden cleaning up every last dry stick.
Hey, congratulations on 900 posts. To celebrate 1000 you could publish an anthology of your best posts...

Anonymous said...

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: that's not a bad idea. Now all I need to do is produce some...! ;-)