“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” -- Henry David Thoreau
I spend very little time reading the news or watching TV -- it’s my choice -- but when I do show up, I very rarely see anything said about simplicity. But, of course, it’s obvious: in a world of consumerism, who the hell wants to talk about doing with less, or practically nothing?
If you never read Thoreau or the late John Lane’s book, Timeless Simplicity then you ought to, not because I say so but because they bring to life in a timeless, joyful and magical way what it’s like to look at the world through a different pair of glasses -- i.e. devoid of our materialistic sense of entitlement.
I know for many people it would be utterly depressing to have to do without, but, in the end, we’ve no choice: the planet cannot provide the endless supply of goods (and services) that we all crave without eventually dying.
I know, in your mind, you’ll get this, but your will (if it’s that) is such that you can’t help yourself. (The conversation usually ends with the message: “When it’s gone, it’s gone”.)
But we’ve no choice but to consume less, or at least that’s how I see it.
Of course, I recognise that my little old blog isn’t going to make any difference to the way you live out your life, but there are a few things I can be reasonably certain of:
You know you’ve accumulated too much stuff -- you can’t take it with you when you die
You know you ‘feel’ better when your space is less chaotic
Decluttering leads to much more than less
Without the pressure to consume or own, there’s less pressure to generate great gobs of cash
You know in your heart it’s the right thing to do
You might say that you’re not that virtuous, and are quite happy with the way things are. Let’s face it, if there are companies making this stuff, and you have the money, why shouldn't you buy what you like? I understand, but the reality is that what exists out there is a substitute for what’s missing inside. In my case, I don’t need a slew of things to make me happy. Indeed, listening to the dawn chorus can just as easily bring me to life as any amount of spur-of-the-moment purchases.
There are no better places to start with this than others but I’ve found that simplifying a physical space can often be the most impactful, followed by the food we consume. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t admire the wizardry of the plethora of TV chefs, but, seriously, if they had to grow or breed all the ingredients that they seem to take for granted, I wonder if we would see such monstrously overblown dishers on our TV screens.
Finally, as you reflect on your life to come, ask yourself what a simple life would like. It doesn’t just mean having less stuff, but it’s a bloody good start.
Enjoy your Sunday.