I don’t often post links to other sites, but when I came across this one on Zen Habits, I was thrilled that someone else finally put into just the right words how I feel about “progress” in our society. It’s so unfortunate that all of the machines designed to make our lives easier have given us more spare time which we’ve just filled with more stuff and more commitments. I’ve been trying so hard to buck this trend to the point where I’m perhaps TOO cautious about committing my time or spending my money on things! Even so, those of you who know me might laugh at my effort as you look around my well-stocked craft room, our playroom stuffed with toys, and so many other things about my life that are far from simple. As I look around my house I’m overwhelmed with how much stuff we have that we ‘just might end up needing someday.’ I’m trying so hard to purge, but isn’t it difficult?
In my ideal world I could live in a community like the one I lived in when I was in Germany: big enough town to have lots of different kinds of people, yet small and organized enough to have great public transportation. I walked everywhere or took the bus. I shopped at several different markets (produce at the farmer’s market, bread at the bakery, other staples at a different store) which means that I had smaller loads of higher quality with no temptation to overpurchase since I’d just have to carry it on a long walk home! The homes were smaller. Cars were rare, and if you had a car you drove very carefully as ticket fines were very high! People didn’t have cell phones (I hate cell phones, and yes, I have one.) because they weren’t common then, so when you sat on the bus or the train or waited at the bus stop you sat in companionable silence appreciating the world around you, rather than trying to get yet one more thing done. When you were home with your family (or in my case, roommates) you were just that: home with the ones you loved. You weren’t rushing from one lesson or obligation to another. You were enjoying the things you had and the people you loved, not sitting online (like I am now!) in an alternate reality. I have such a long way to go.
I’m reading a book by Richard Foster about simplicity and am loving the christian viewpoint of simplifying life. If we look at following God as our only aim, things can just fall into place. I say “can” and not “will” because keeping my focus on God and his goals for my life is the hard part. My eyes stray so easily to what other people have and do. There is so much to learn and so many ways to grow.
Okay, there’s my rant. There’s my impossible reality. A life of simplicity but richness, with a singular focus. I know it won’t ever happen quite the way I dream of here in Orange County, but I don’t mind if my friends and my dear husband chuckle a bit at me as I try to come as close as I can to that life anyway.