I loathe life-style blogs. In fact, I expend an inor­di­nate amount of effort avoid­ing them — or, if unable to avoid them, mock­ing them mer­ci­less­ly. We seem to be awash in life-style blog­gers, insta­gram­mers, influ­encers, experts, gurus, and brands, don’t we? Every­day anoth­er over­pro­duced chit appears in our feeds to remind us of our social inden­ture, our psy­cho­log­i­cal mal­ad­just­ment, our moral fail­ings, our inad­e­quate tastes, and our pauci­ty of skills.

Those who know me best are aware that while I have strong prac­ti­cal and æsthet­ic prin­ci­ples, I’m not one to lord them about. We’re all of us strug­gling to bal­ance between the com­pet­ing inter­ests of our lives, to fil­ter out the voic­es of rea­son in the din of the madded crowd, to find and hold fast — which is always the hard­est part — to some sta­bi­liz­ing rule of life. The truth is: Life is always dif­fi­cult. Hap­pi­ness is nev­er per­ma­nent. Today’s solu­tions become tomorrow’s prob­lems. And we are along for the ride, mak­ing the most of cir­cum­stances large­ly beyond our control.

As the great nat­u­ral­ist John Muir put it, “When we try to pick out any­thing by itself, we find it hitched to every­thing else in the uni­verse.” Every­thing we do, every­thing we are is inex­tri­ca­ble from every­thing else. Make any one choice and there will be unfore­see­able con­se­quences all the way down to the tur­tles. And this real­iza­tion, which we too often have — or at least feel like a dead weight, even if we can’t artic­u­late it — is paralyzing.

We’re sold a thou­sand vari­a­tions on the theme of self-improve­ment, untan­gling the knots and lift­ing away the bur­den. We’ll live longer, health­i­er, more sat­is­fy­ing lives if we just eat enough of this thing and abstain for that oth­er. If we fix our ener­gies on expe­ri­ences not stuff, we’ll be hap­py. If we make a dif­fer­ence in the polit­i­cal realm, or we are inten­tion­al about our con­sump­tion, or we check the priv­i­leges of our rel­a­tive abun­dance, if we mea­sure out with cof­fee spoons the car­bon we’ve pro­duced, if we do x, y, or z, we will be happier.

Life-style, how we choose to live and act, where we choose to devote our time and our mon­ey, is the key to earth­ly plea­sure, we’re told. And tens of thou­sands of peo­ple are lin­ing up every­day to help you change yours. Fix your life with ten easy solu­tions to clut­ter, twen­ty remark­able life-hacks to max­i­mize your poten­tial, and the rev­o­lu­tion­ary secret to work­ing less and liv­ing more. Frankly, I think it’s a heap­ing pile of putrid horseshit.

And, so, after lis­ten­ing to dozens of friends and fam­i­ly harp on me for years to start a lifestyle blog with DIY tips, tricks, hacks, and ennui-induc­ing wis­dom, I’ve made the not at all hyp­o­crit­i­cal deci­sion to do so, with one sig­nif­i­cant caveat: I’m not try­ing to improve your fuck­ing life. Noth­ing you do will save you from the con­stant slog of being human.

What I do pro­pose to do is doc­u­ment my per­son­al philoso­phies and how I live and fail to live up to them in very prac­ti­cal ways. I will impress upon my read­ers — should they ever become more than a fig­ment of my imag­i­na­tion — that we are moral beings and this is our curse and our bless­ing. We must choose between cours­es of action, we must weigh the advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages latent in those choic­es. Our choic­es will nev­er per­fect, the out­comes will nev­er be quite as we expect­ed, and we’ll very often be igno­rant of their wider ramifications.

Occa­sion­al­ly, we will be hap­py; most of the time we must learn to be con­tent, dare I say, accept that we’ll often be unhap­py, and that the nar­ra­tive of our emo­tion­al lives will nev­er be one of unceas­ing highs and unmit­i­gat­ed ecsta­sy. I’ve found that most of life is frankly rather mun­dane; that most of it is main­te­nance of our health, our wealth, our homes, our depen­dents, and con­di­tions. And, so, if I pro­pose to sub­scribe to any pur­port­ed life-style, it’s this: To derive as much sat­is­fac­tion and con­tent­ment as pos­si­ble while being rad­i­cal­ly imper­fect and fal­li­ble crea­tures with unknow­able expi­ra­tion dates.

I find this tends to piv­ot around a sense of place, an oikophil­ia — or love of home, and long-term com­mit­ments to cul­ti­vat­ing and main­tain­ing rea­son­able and rel­a­tive­ly mod­est out­comes. More so, per­haps, it demands a mature capac­i­ty to be dis­ap­point­ed by oth­er peo­ple, by chang­ing cir­cum­stances; and a readi­ness to adjust course, to accept defeat, and to feel a lit­tle less enthralled to our indi­vid­ual dig­ni­ty and worth being mea­sured by how suc­cess­ful­ly we meet someone’s arbi­trary cri­te­ria for a irre­proach­able life.

The great end of pru­dence is to give cheer­ful­ness to those hours which splen­dour can­not gild, and accla­ma­tion can­not exhil­a­rate; those soft inter­vals of unbend­ed amuse­ment, in which a man shrinks to his nat­ur­al dimen­sions, and throws aside the orna­ments or dis­guis­es which he feels in pri­va­cy to be use­less incum­brances, and to lose all effect when they become famil­iar. To be hap­py at home is the ulti­mate result of all ambi­tion, the end to which every enter­prise and labour tends, and of which every desire prompts the prosecution. 

Samuel John­son1709–1784

With­in these pages, I will enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly fea­ture my expe­ri­ences at home in the kitchen, in the work shop, in the nurs­ery, among my books, in the gar­den; with friends and fam­i­ly and neigh­bors and col­leagues; with church­es, com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions, and local pol­i­tics. I hope it will be pos­si­ble to illus­trate that we can shape our lives and influ­ence our com­mu­ni­ties with­out super­struc­tures of impen­e­tra­ble ide­ol­o­gy that seg­ment us into mis­er­able tribes of self-right­eous­ness, more ready to shame for non-com­pli­ance and non-con­for­mi­ty than to build strong bonds of inter­de­pen­den­cy and mutu­al respect.

I hope rather than some imitable life-style per­for­mance, care­ful­ly curat­ed and man­aged, some­thing a lit­tle more humane; dare I say, holy — or if you pre­fer whole­some or holis­tic: An anti-life-style blog, one that is more con­cerned with being enough, being suf­fi­cient, being ade­quate, being mod­er­ate, inex­ces­sive, and accept­ing the mediocre and mid­dling for what it actu­al­ly is, to be aver­age, to be ordi­nary, to be noth­ing more and noth­ing less than sor­row­ful­ly, joy­ful­ly, con­flict­ed­ly, mad­den­ing­ly human.

Wel­come to the House of Moth­er­fuckin’ Bond.