March 8, 2010

On Voluntary Simplicity

Okay, one more post with no picture while I get this new laptop configured to my liking, but considering what I'm talking about tonight, I suppose it's appropriate.

I presume it is the fast that has got me appreciating the more in the less these days, but that old fanciful interest I used to harbor for the voluntary simplicity movement has bitten me again. So I've been reading some books, blogs, etc on the subject of living with less. Sounds pretty great to me. And then I began to look for the connection between that interest and my most recent crusade to cut the grocery bill down a bit. Does one thing have to do with the other? I'm thinking yes and no.

Voluntary simplicity isn't about being cheap or frugal (both of which I am) but more about not cluttering up our lives so much that we can't see real joy when it sits in our laps. Its about spending money on what you actually need and want instead of spending on those things that actually contribute to our continued gloom. Like, watching tv instead of getting outside and walking the earth is one of the things that has bugged me in the past, and we were paying for that sort of captivity to the couch. Now we don't pay for tv and we go out and enjoy the land more. Win, win! That's just one of the ways that we have given in to paying for unhappiness.

So it's only sort of about money, in a secondary sort of way. It's really about quality of life. The fast has been so peaceful and centering. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but letting go of that one extra thing has been so nice. I know I will not, but each day I find myself thinking, if only I could live like this all the time. I am wondering what other sorts of scaling back could do for my quality of life.

Back in Eugene I had a little run of interest in this topic, but quickly decided that raising kids in this world with grandparents and their bags full of plastic toys and commercials and friends with seductive levels of excess made it virtually impossible to live a truly simple life free from internal and external clutter. Kids come with stuff. With swings and toys and diapers and wipes and intercom systems and sticky snacks and crayons strewn about. Not much simple about any of that. But now I am finding an inner simplicity that is independent of all of the crayon shrapnel on the kitchen floor. Ahhh...balance. It feels so nice. Now, if only I could find the magic way to make it stick around for longer than 19 days!

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