A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity by Wm. S. Coperthwaite is a book I will reread many times. In it, Mr. Coperthwaite describes the life I would like to live. One that has space for relationships and nature, for thought and rest; not simply a life of work.
“We started leaving the home to go to work in order to support the home. We have been doing this for so long that we have forgotten the purpose for which we sold ourselves in the first place.”
The book itself is organized by themes including Beauty, Work/Bread Labor, Simplicity, and Life Work. Each chapter features Mr. Coperthwaite’s musings on what qualities and characteristics of life support the theme and which tend to threaten it. Side bar articles are spread throughout the book that offer brief treatments of things like axes or crooked knives. At times there is poetry. Sprinkled among it all are Peter Forbes fine photographs and pithy quotes from Thoreau to Gandhi to Emily Dickinson.
“Many of the most important lessons in life can be learned by not taught. So, even though we cannot teach these experiences, we can work to create an atmosphere to encourage learning.”
Like most people who read A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity, the odds of me ditching my corporate job in favor of a subsistence farm that can only be reached by canoe are improbably small. For me, the value of a book like this is not to motivate me to ditch my life in favor of something totally different but to get me thinking about how my life can be enriched by being deliberate about my choices. It forces me to think about what I want my life to be rather than what it currently is. It gives me the freedom to imagine a life that is more my own.
Read it. Take action. Repeat as necessary.
Get your copy here: A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity