Tuesday, April 22, 2008

the right response?

so, i've been pondering ways of living a simpler life. i've put thought into what's important to me and to our family. i've made lists of those things. and yes, it ends up being things, doesn't it? because we are in a decidedly thing-oriented world. if we all stopped wanting all those things, the global economy would grind to a halt. all those ships wouldn't have anything to carry in all those containers. and since shipping is my industry, it does give me pause...would we actually HURT ourselves if we got off this consumer train? furthermore, is it even possible to do so?

my response to thinking about living more simply is to read about how other people are doing it. of course, one can do this online and that i have done. however, my impulse is to go to amazon.co.uk and starting nosing around. what i found there arrived on my doorstep today:
  1. Choosing Simplicity: Real People Finding Peace & Fulfillment in a Complex World, by Linda Breen Pierce
  2. Timeless Simplicty: Creative living in a consumer society, by John Lane
  3. Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, by Judith Levine
  4. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Our Year of Seasonal Eating, by Barbara Kingsolver
  5. Radical Simplicty: Creating an Authentic Life, by Dan Price
  6. The Spirit of Silence: Making space for creativity, by John Lane
  7. A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity, by Wm. S. Coperthwaite

if you put these together with Oliver James' Affluenza, which i ordered a month or so ago, it is a total of 8 books on living more simply. (sigh) i'm behind before i even begin. i can't even THINK about living simply in a simple way or without buying something. i somehow think i need EIGHT books to help me do it--and i think this to the extent that i actually ORDER eight books. this is the depth of the problem we're facing here. and i don't think it's only me. it's a general cultural malaise.


Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

First, you're assisting these people by buying their books and as a result making them more popular so that they can spread the word about their work.
Secondly, if books come under the category of materialistic then I'm in trouble ;) they're my one 'time-out' so to speak, the one thing I can buy that doesn't really...well, count. because they just don't :) Anyhow, you will read them, and share your thoughts on them, and we'll learn from you and the simplistic life you strive for will touch the lives of many.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

had to break this up or I'd look like a crazy lady writing so much. In answer to your question, whether we hurt ourselves by not spending: if we don't NEED to buy so many things, and we change our habits and consume much less, and get back to basics- then isn't that a natural balancing of things whatever happens? For example, if a writer publishes a book; and she gets all her family to buy it, and so it isn't quite a disaster- it's not really 'successful' is it? It's not founded on any real sense of whether her book was good or not, or whether the economy was in good shape, just people afraid to let her down. So, if they didn't buy the book, it would disappear eventually and she'd have to come up with something else.

Economy is a funny thing because we've come to rely on it as the grease in the wheel of life but humans are adaptable and we'll eventually find a way to get around everything, I think. If gas prices rise beyond a certain point, we won't be driving so much. Suburbs will be a thing of the past, perhaps, or we'll find some new way to get past that problem. We won't be stranded long. Humans are industrious.

Jaime said...

Interesting ideas you have on our consumer driven world. I never looked at it like that before, but I think you are right...our society, as we know it would crumble!

I come from the opposite end of the spectrum...I live a very simple life and wonder sometimes if I am not doing enough!

Maybe we just need to find a balance.

julochka said...

thank you both for your thoughtful comments...i'm battling with this whole notion in my head. mostly because there's so much i'm not sure i want to give up. but, i do want to live more CONSCIOUSLY. buying food that came from closer to home is one thing that's really important to me. so it's the step i take at the moment. maybe i'll get totally inspired reading these books (i surely hope so!!) and find other ways that fit my life (the reality of which is that i fly all over the world, quite frequently, which doesn't leave the lightest carbon footprint). i do care about these things, very much, but i also have to live within my reality. i'm living outside my country and my language, so i'm dependent on a multi-national, global industry for my livelihood. it's that i'm looking to reconcile...thanks again for your thoughts. :-)