Simplicity can be complex
The reality is that living in a traditional way, close to nature, can be extremely complex. Consider this description of how to make a cup of tea in rural Afghanistan.
Labor-saving and time-saving technologies
Technology can save time and effort, and yet technology has not meant simplicity and leisure for modern city-dwellers. A useful perspective is that of "intermediate technology" - this has almost the same meaning as appropriate technology as appropriate technology, with an emphasis on using some technological advancement, but not too much.
For example, having a series of devices or a service that provides clean water to a tap in your house is great and makes life simpler, in practice, and could be considered intermediate technology. Buying small bottles of water for a dollar or more each gives no greater benefit but involves greater consumption, waste of valuable resources and pollution.
In a rural context, threshers, tractors (or chicken tractors), deep wells and water filters could be considered intermediate technologies - all improving the quality of life, and reducing both the tedious simplicity (or monotony) of poor rural life, and reducing the complexity involved in getting the necessities and basic luxuries of life.
Comfortable country living
Observations on simple living, from Rural Architecture by Lewis Falley Allen, 1852:
- A servant admitted us; and leaving overcoat and hat in the hall, we entered a lone room, with an "air-tight" stove, looking as black and solemn as a Turkish eunuch upon us, and giving out about the same degree of genial warmth as the said eunuch would have expressed had he been there--an emasculated warming machine truly! On the floor was a Wilton carpet, too fine to stand on; around the room were mahogany sofas and mahogany chairs, all too fine to sit on--at all events to _rest_ one upon if he were fatigued. The blessed light of day was shut out by crimson and white curtains, held up by gilded arrows; and upon the mantle piece, and on the center and side tables were all sorts of gimcracks, costly and worthless. In short, there was no _comfort_ about the whole concern...
- We listened to his story. His good wife came in, and all together, we had a long talk of their family and farming arrangements; how they had furnished their house; and how they proposed to live; but wound up with a sad story, that their good farming neighbors didn't call on them the _second_ time--kind, civil people they appeared, too--and while they were in, acted as though afraid to sit down, and afraid to stand up;--in short, they were dreadfully embarrassed; for why, our friends couldn't tell, but now began to understand it.
See Simple living/Rural Architecture for a more complete extract and link to the full text on Project Gutenberg.
Crap you do not need - from the Age/SMH (Australian newpaper) blog All Men Are Liars
Self Sufficiency Guide to living more sustainably.