I've been thinking about my vacuum cleaner. That doesn't mean I've been thinking about taking it out of the pantry and using it to cleaning up the cat fur. God no, not that. I've just been thinking about it. I've been thinking how easy it is to understand this vacuum cleaner. It is basically a bucket with a reusable filter that sits on top. The other part is the vacuum that pulls the dirt in. When I want to empty it, I unhook the bucket. Everything I vacuumed up is in there. There is no magical disappearance. I empty the bucket, wash the filter off ,and put it all back together. It's easy to understand and that's comforting for me.
This is not like the vacuum cleaners of my youth. They were scary, mysterious machines. They were metal and noisy and very sucky ( as in having a lot of sucking power). They had bags you put in and once something got sucked into that machine and eventually into that bag- it was gone forever. Forever. And it could seriously suck things. I would panic when it accidentally sucked up the drapes envisioning the whole house slowly being sucked into the metal stomach of the thing never to be seen again. You couldn't just open it and find what you were looking for like my current vacuum cleaner. Sucked things were gone. Those vacuums were not easy to understand.
One thing I liked a lot when I moved to Botswana was the way everything was closer to me and, because of that, much easier to understand. If you wanted meat, a goat or cow was killed, you cut off a piece of meat and cooked it. Easy, understandable. In America meat was a scary complex thing- how it got to the shop was mysterious. Special people had to go to school to cut the meat. You couldn't just kill a goat in your backyard and cut it up. It would go all wrong. You needed a specialist.
The same for building houses. In America you need to be a BUILDER. ( yes with capital letters). You couldn't just be a person who decided to build a house. In America, building a house was not easily understood. There was a lot of wood and various layers and certain stuff had to be stuck between the two layers and that sticking stuff was dangerous just by itself. Another whole group of specially trained people had to show up just for the roof. It was all kept very mysterious, the secrets held by the chosen few.
When I arrived in Botswana I was shocked to see people not only building their own houses but even making the bricks themselves. It was all very simple suddenly. You mixed sand and cement and some water and you got to it. I felt relieved somehow being let in on all of these things I grew up to know were very complicated and unable for the layman to understand. I think now, if push came to shove, I could actually build my own house. It would not be pretty, but it would fulfill the definition of "house". That's a pretty powerful thought.
Even things like gas became understandable. Gas wasn't some dangerous chemical moving through pipes underground originating from places unknown. Gas came in a bottle that you went and bought and threw in the car and then attached it by a hose to your stove.
There are many reasons why I decided Botswana might be a good place to make a home and the simplification of these complex things was not a small part of that decision. I like knowing how things work so that I can make a plan if I get in a bind. If you're left out of the information and everything is for experts, you lose power, you're dependent on the people who understand. It's nice knowing how things work. At the very least, if you suck up a kitten you can always find it again in the bucket.