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The Simple Life

The Simple Life

Believe me. I’m no expert on the subject of the “simple” life.  You might say it was thrust upon me. A little thing like overexpansion can do that to you. So I decided to live within my means, appreciate natural things like the rustling of the leaves and divest my life of all clutter.

I learned that simplicity, often associated with asceticism that begins with the Shramana traditions of Iron Age India. I studied Epicurus, who left Athens to move to the countryside, in order to escape the madness of city life. I re-read Thoreau, who moved to the woods and isolated himself from relationships and society. Were these simple lives, I wondered, or empty lives?

National Downshifting Week in the U.K. encourages participants to positively embrace living with less. They claim it isn’t about moving to the country, but about achieving a work and life balance.

I turned to some modern “simple” life masters, (and the woods are full of them), who advocate one simple step at a time. I deleted an email that promised me bad karma if I didn’t pass it on to 10 of my friends. Which would have been difficult anyway, because another simple life guru suggested eliminating all, even borderline, unhappy people from your life.

Fortunately, I had some simple pleasures already in place.

I take trains in Europe; they’re relaxing, and I can go from city center to city center and avoid the insane airport traffic. When I take a driving trip I get off the main roads and dally on Main Street USA. I consider the parking tickets a contribution to preserving a simple way of life that needs preserving.

A friend, in his effort to find the simple life, has enlisted a Feng Shui Master, who has turned his couch to the Northwest. He likes the view, but doesn’t feel any of the effects yet.

Decluttering? Realignment? Appreciating nature? Getting out of the rat race? So, with everyone pursing a simpler life, in his or her own way, the question perhaps should be asked: what exactly is it? And will we know it when we find it?

If you have any simple answers, don’t hesitate to let us all know.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Well… I just learned, after clicking through on the “overexpansion” link, that Peterman wrote a book! “Peterman Rides Again: Adventures Continue With The Real J. Peterman” was published back in 2000.

    A few years ago now, I guess.

    I just ordered a copy through… well, from a small, independent bookseller through the web site of a huge international online retailer.

    It will be interesting to compare the rise and fall of the first Peterman empire with that of the original Banana Republic chain, as related in Mel & Patricia Ziegler’s book, “Wild Company,” which I also only recently discovered.

  2. I’ve been a Peterman fan for a long time now, starting with the the Canadian firefighter’s outfit I bought. The expansion meant things were going to go bad, and they did. Smith & Hawken did the same thing with the same results. Why does bigger have to mean better? Banana Republic started as a tiny shop over a jewelry store in my hometown of Mill Valley. The concept was terrific and so were the products. now it is huge, but carries junk. Why do we have to consume so much? It’s considered being a good American to grow the economy by buying more and more things, most of which we don’t need. As I was shopping in the Container Store years ago, an old man came up to me and said, “You wouldn’t need all those containers if you didn’t have so much crap!” It was a life changing moment for me! Now, every Wednesday I take 6 items to Goodwill or the Thrift store. It may not be much but it adds up. Simplicity clears your mind so you can concentrate on what is truly important. I am so much happier now that I take pleasure in the things I still have and value experiences more than more stuff.

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