I posted on my other blog recently about how for the first time in my life I'm seriously applying myself to working within a budget, not just of money but also of time. (You can read that post here, if you're so inclined.)
Now that I'm doing this, I'm really appreciating the whole concept of a budget, which is really just a recognition of what one has and how to use it. Living by a budget is a demonstration of how freedom can come through discipline.
One thing that occurred to me in playing with this concept is that while I was living on my land over the summer, I was living by a budget of water. I had my two seven-gallon containers and I had icemelt from the ice chest, and that was it. Having this limited water supply meant disciplining myself to use that fifteen or so gallons completely and creatively. It meant I could see exactly what I had and where it was going, and so, as I posted earlier here, it was a rewarding experience. And I realize now that the sense of empowerment that comes with living by a budget is directly related to the ability to control one's resources.
What's interesting for me in the water budget framework is that most of us (including me, now that I'm living back on the grid for the winter) have no concept of how much water we "have" and how much we use. So while we have the relative freedom of a seemingly unlimited water supply, which also doesn't burden us much in terms of cost, we are actually missing out on the empowerment that comes with budgeting. And I don't just mean on an individual level; I see this is at the heart of the whole problem with the developed world. How can we have a sense of responsibility about how we use water if we have no working concept of how much there really is and where it's all going?