Writing about this is really fucking stretching me as it’s inviting me to look at how little I know about living simply.
Here’s what I have tried:
- Deleting all social media and online presence. (x2)
- Giving up sex, women and romance (x3)
- Being completely silent for a week (x4)
- Being vegan (x1 – for 3 years)
- Quitting sugar, wheat, grains, soy – eating paleo (x1)
- Quitting alcohol and recreational drugs (x1 – 3 years running)
- Stopping all use of prescription/non-prescription medicinal drugs inc. vitamins, minerals, and gym supplements (x1)
- Deleting my music library (x1)
- (Mutually) Ending an otherwise wonderful relationship (x4)
- Moving to a temple, waking at 3am after 4 hours sleep and meditating until 9am with no food every morning – incl. other austerities for 2 months (x1)
In other words, I’ve feel like I’ve had a fair crack.
… And yet I still couldn’t muster up enough knowledge to write something about a simple life.
“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
– Albert Einstein
I’m here instead to share what I don’t know, and perhaps in the coming weeks and months I’ll be a little more enlightened in my humility, and hopefully I’ll have something prescient to say to Albert’s kids.
I see people, like the monks and those going for morning walks, reveling in what little they have. In the above instances, a loin cloth, and the stinging winter morning air. Reveling like pigs in mud. I see pigs in mud reveling. Why is everyone reveling? I’m saving for a Rolex and I’m having a shitty old time.
Ha. I’m not really saving for a Rolex but if I were this is what I imagine my experience compared with pigs in shit might look like.
So might it be that complications such as the ubiquitous Facebook and other social media, material possessions, sex and stimulants might be, in the words of Thoreau (who gave up all his possessions to live in the woods in isolation and write Waldo), “frittering away [our lives with details]”?
I fuckin’ think so. If I stop for a moment and have a gander around, I’m pretty yuppy these days and I’ve been stripping away a lot hey. And if I take a moment to recollect some of the most “successful” (and that’s in as obvious double quotation marks as I can put it) moments of my life, they were certainly not the most simple and indeed not the happiest moments, either. The happiest moments I can remember have all been deep in forests, or at the beach, or when I was 6 and got thrown outside at night by my mother for misbehaving repeatedly (strong-ass woman gotta do what she gotta do – I was a terror at times) and I found a blanket and a chair in the garage to make a bed out of. I loved that chair. Like I seriously loved it.
Or how about at the Bristol backpackers with no home but some good rice and korma sauce? Or in Laos when I had no proper accommodation because I didn’t want to use up one of my Laotian family’s rent-able bungalows so I stayed in Papa’s workshop (which was a bungalow with only two walls and cloth where wood was missing that looked out every morning to a field of buffalo)? I loved that place! And when my friends were a cheeky monkey and a buffalo called Melon – I had not much in the way of money but we all looked after each other and my joviality was enough to attract enough hungry backpackers to the restaurant to hang with me that mama could make a living, too.
Upon reflection, there is certainly a link between joy and simplicity. Isn’t it that the best things are the simplest? I was certainly a happier bohemian and pauper than I was in the property development game. Look – I’m flat out depressed reading “The Accidental Developer” in this pic:
In short I think there’s merit to that we can all gain a little something from cutting away that which we do not need. And also in the statement that we need a lot less than we think we do.. In reality we may even want less, too, if we were to only try it out.
I’m giving it a go. You should have a go with me.
What can you cut away today? For me? Clothes. I need not all these fancy garments.
“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”
– Henry David Thoreau