Lessons I've Learned from the Amish

Author: Cari Haus

Article:
Copyright 2005 Log Cabin Rustics

During the past five years my online log furniture store has
bought literally truckloads of furniture built by Amish
suppliers. One of the more interesting fringe benefits of my job
as a log furniture retailer has been to become acquainted with
the Amish way of life. While certainly not an expert on Amish
life, I have learned some valuable lessons from my Amish
friends:

Lesson #1: Drawing a line in the sand

The Amish commitment to a simple way of life certainly is
admirable. Every belief system seems to have its "rules and
regulations" that work out the details of how that belief system
is applied to practical life, and the Amish are no exceptions.

My main Amish furniture builder wouldn't think of using
electricity, but his entire log furniture building shop is
powered by an air compressor. He won't allow a phone in his
building, but he has a pay phone outside. He rides a horse and
would never consider driving a car, but he hoists log armoires
and dressers around with a forklift truck. When I asked him
about this, he said that was O.K. because the forklift truck was
powered by propane. He wouldn't touch my digital camera with a
ten foot pole (I know, because I asked him to snap a picture of
some log bunk beds for me), but he doesn't mind me snapping
pictures all over the place and even offered to pay me to take
some for him.

While some people may find the above list of seeming
contradictions to be somewhat less than admirable, I keep going
back to the old saying "stand for something or you will fall for
anything". The Amish have a core value of simplicity, a value
they believe in so deeply that they're willing to take a stand.
Although I live life differently than the Amish, I believe in
the simple life too, and admire the soft-spoken kindness and
unhurried manner I've seen in Amish craftsmen.

Lesson #2: Time isn't Everything

The Amish log furniture builders I know certainly do know how to
meet a deadline. If I have a rush order, they'll bend over
backwards to kick it out on time. They do this for a couple of
reasons. Since I order a lot of rustic furniture from them, they
want to keep me happy. Also, I don't ask them to hurry very
often.

I don't ask them to hurry very often because one of their belief
tenets is against a "rushed" way of life. If I asked them to do
rush orders all the time, you can be sure they would bridle
against it. By respecting their unhurried ways and limiting my
rush orders to one or two per month, I am able to get my Amish
suppliers to help me out when a customer is leaving their lake
cottage in a week and we really need to deliver.

Although my Amish furniture builder has been willing to drop
everything to help push out an order for me, it's obvious that
he is committed to an unhurried way of life. He wouldn't think
of working on Sunday, or even Good Friday, for that matter. The
other day when I drove to his place to see about an order (you
can't call him, because he doesn't answer the pay phone), he was
just returning from a family canoe trip.

Lesson #3: Take Time to be Social

The Amish are big on auctions, and will close their businesses
at the drop of a hat to go to one. Don't count on finding them
at work on the first day of hunting season, either. They even
put that on their answering machine. "This is the first day of
hunting season and we won't be in!"

One day I drove for an hour to pick-up a van load of Amish
furniture. When I got to my supplier's, I learned I would have
to wait for loading because the "hired man" wasn't yet back from
lunch. This seemed strange since it was 2:30 in the afternoon,
and I couldn't help saying so. The Amish furniture maker was
quick to explain, with an amused little smile on his face, that
the hired man had gotten married just two weeks earlier, and
ever since then, had been taking long lunches-"very long
lunches".

The Amish supplier I do the most business with right now has
four small children. They are amazingly quiet and well-behaved,
although I can't see any evidence that he is ever unkind to
them. He speaks to them very gently, and they seem to love him
very much-yet they are very obedient. This is particularly
refreshing, given the challenging behavior that is exhibited by
so many children today.

My great uncle, who was born in the early 1900's, used to say
that he never wanted to go back to the "good old days" because
they really weren't so good after all. He remembered a lot of
outhouses and hard work.

I don't envy my Amish supplier for having an outhouse, but do
believe there is much we can learn from his simple way of life.
People who drive buggies don't usually have road rage. People
who don't watch TV or play video games have more time to cook,
take canoe trips, enjoy long lunch hours with their beloved, and
spend with their children. If you don't have electricity, you
generally go to bed when the sun goes down. Perhaps we, like the
Amish, should slow down a bit-and "take time to smell the
roses".

About the author:
Cari Haus sells log beds and other log furniture on her website,
http://www.logcabinrustics.com/.

Amish Outdoor Furniture
7307 8th Street North
Princeton, MN 55371

Email: sales@amishoutdoorfurniture.com

Phone: 763-631-0658