March 10, 2017

The Magic of Making Things Myself

I grew up with a love of fantasy video games and books. It wasn’t just about magic and monsters for me. I wanted those clothes. I loved the way shelves were lined with jars filled with strange powders and goops. By comparison, modern life seemed sterile and dull.

What I have since discovered is that fantasy worlds are real.

All fantasy comes from someone’s mind, and many of the elements I loved most come from skills or practices that have existed. Many of them still do.

I’ve come to this realization in a roundabout way. Becoming a minimalist led me to the zero waste movement, which has started me down a path of making my own household supplies. I clean my counters using a mixture of vinegar and water. I’ve made toothpaste out of baking soda and coconut oil. I’ve started rinsing my mouth with salt. I’m planning on making my own lotion next.

The process of making these changes is giving me more of an understanding what individual ingredients do. The result is that my usual routine now contains bottles of basic concoctions that may look mysterious to someone watching me go about my day. It’s like I’m a beginner alchemist, collecting natural ingredients to make potions.

This inspiration reinforces desires I already had.

I hope to start a garden soon. I’d like to be self-sufficient and to reduce my environmental impact. Plus I always thought people who offered us plants from their own garden were cool. Being able to do that has long been a dream of mine.

This act has a magical quality all its own. Learning which plants grow when, how they taste, their smell, and what they’re useful for. Once I start making my own food and supplies, all I need is a cloak and a walking stick to secure my place in fantasy lore.

The magic is in acquiring and applying knowledge.

This has perhaps long been part of my attraction to magic characters and potion makers. They aren’t warriors whose skills depend on strength and cunning. Their power lied in their minds. This was alluring to a bookworm who never got into a fight or even roughhoused with a sibling.

Absorbing information got me through school and college. It has remained a necessary component of writing. What’s new for me is the expansion into other areas of my life. Why buy what I can make?

Learning takes time, but the knowledge doesn’t go away. From then on, making another batch becomes easier than running to the store to buy another product.

This form of study is not to make me a better worker. It’s to make me a better person.

Motivation and discipline may be a challenge, but to help stay inspired, all I need is a little magic.

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