Tuesday, December 01, 2009
i've been going on and on about simplifying my life for nearly two years now. clearing out the junk, paring down, eating locally-produced food, spending less on gadgets [gasp!], making do with what we have. long ago (before i realized how much i hate flash), i even bought a bunch of books on the simple life. i was so not ready to actually do it, that i felt i had to acquire something in order to even ponder it. and strangely, i never really read those books at the time (except for barbara kingsolver's animal, vegetable, miracle). but over the past week or so, i've begun reading them. i think i was ready at last.
i found that i did a pretty good job of selecting a good range from the theoretical side to the WAY out there living in a hut in the woods side to the incredibly annoyingly, preachily written to the practical, down-to-earth view. and i've realized a few things:
~ we're quite a lot farther along than i thought. in thinking and in action.
~ thinking is at least half the battle.
~ things change quickly: judith levine's reason for her year of not buying (2004) was the mad rhetoric of the bush administration which suggested that the best way to defeat the terrorists was to get out there and buy something. i think my main reason for wanting to do this, other than living more personally mindfully, is a desire to be kinder to the environment.
~ simplifying doesn't have to mean suffering. it's more about mindfulness than self-denial. which may be why i feel i'm a lot closer now than i was when i bought the books last year.
~ i think i'd rather think of it as living more consciously, that seems more palatable and somehow less like a cult or a religion to me. i have a feeling that the notion of voluntary simplicity or radical simplicity has been fetishized a bit too much for my taste.
~ i realize my own dad, who has never set foot in a wal-mart, has been "not buying it" for years (of course mom and us girls more than made up for it over the years). sometimes it takes years to learn the lessons your parents try to teach you, but i think i'm catching on at last.
~ the simplicity project is much easier outside of the insane consumer culture that is the united states.
~ while there is cultural pressure to keep up with the hansens next door here, it's on a much more even keel and keeping up doesn't mean a two hummer garage. (granted, i'm not sure it means that in the US anymore after more than a year of economic crisis - but these books are all pre-crisis.)
~ our ancient toyota is a great example of how we resist the cultural pressure to have a nice shiny new car. and i've long found that rather charming about us. :-)
~ i think i'm ready to commit to my own year of not buying in 2010 and am already thinking of the ways in which we should execute that as a family.
i'd love to hear what you all think. have you simplified over the past year out of economic necessity or environmental concerns or because you saw one of those awful programs about how the chickens are treated? what do you think it would take for you to spend a year not buying anything more than essentials? what would those essentials include?