Thursday, 7 May 2009

A simple life

I have been pondering this for a while now. Just what is this "simple life"? I read a lot of internet sites, blogs, forums, etc, and there seem to be a lot of folks out there pursuing a perceived idea (ideal?) of a simple life.
To me, a simple life is one that works for you, where you can get rid of the meaningless and superfluous, what you can't or won't make time for, and making room for what is important to you now, at this time, for your peace of mind and long-term contentment.
That's it, for me, in a nutshell.
Some people feel they need land or a big garden, to grow their own fruit and vegetables, have chickens, do lots of putting by and preserving, take up weaving, make yoghurt, sew their own underwear..........not necessarily so. If you have the time and resources and inclinations to do these things, fine and good, but there is a lot of guilt inducing stuff out there where some folks think it's what they *should* be doing to live this simple life.
Not everyone is in a position to have their own garden, or have time to tend a plot of vegetables. In this case, it simplifies their life to buy them in - but with forethought and consideration, buying from a local supplier, in season and in quantities to avoid wastefulness, then surely that is simplifying your life? Taking on a vegetable plot or allotment and not having time to tend it, spending money on seeds and plants, etc, feeling you ought to be out there every "spare" moment you can - only leads to despair, guilt and disappointment if it doesn't work out for you. Same with, say chicken -keeping, which is often seen as almost obligatory to living a simple life - they are a tie; they cost money; take up time in cleaning, feeding, general welfare, dealing with eggs, illness and old age, etc. Simpler to buy good, free-range eggs from a trusted supplier if you don't have time to spend on looking after them, because they *do* take a lot of time and effort.
Again, with crafts - do what you enjoy, can manage, and don't get weighed down by taking on too much - it will only lead to a burn-out type of situation, and quite soon, harbouring resentment, disappointment and feelings of inadequacy.
Do plenty of research - talking to thsoe who know, and read everything you can get your hands on before undertaking such things, to make sure they will fit in with you, your family and your life, or they will become an unbearable, guilt-inducing burden that will haunt you.
I remember reading of Carl Jung's simple life, which he admitted was hard - chopping wood and cooking, etc. A simple life is not necessarily easy, but you can make it easier on yourself by extracting what doesn't work for you and making room for what does. You don't need three acres and a year round productive self sufficient garden; do what works for you, leaving time to just be. We are human beings, not human doings, and if we are doing all the time, there is little time left for the vitally important being. And what could be simpler than just being, and enjoying just being?


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Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right...besides, it is impossible to DO absolutely everything that would be required to live this mythical simple life!

oddny said...

I was so pleased to read this, it really cheered me up and put things in perspective. We have two allotments )had them for over 20 years) and a small half plot that thefather keeps bees on but recently they've become time eating monsters and I seem to be permanently tired trying to balance home and plot life. After reading your post I've decided to have a re-think about changed priorites post early retirement (just hope it doesn't lead to divorce:)

Jacqui said...

I do agree with you here. Simple is what works best for me - with a 2 year old, a teenager and a grown up child still at home along with helping care for my mother - my life has to be pared down to the absolute minimum :) However, although the garden can be hard work, it takes me out of time and I so enjoy being there and being part of it. likewise I would not be without my hen ladies. xx

Tea with Willow said...

Thanks for this post Mrs L ... yes, it's easy to get bogged down in all the garden jobs etc and lose sight of what you're actually trying to achieve. A 'simple life' can mean many different things and you're right, I think some people feel pressure to 'do more' rather than less. Wise words too on hen keeping - it's become rather a 'fashion' of late and I don't think folks realise just how much work is involved in keeping backyard hens healthy ... for me though, the work is so worthwhile when I collect those lovely eggs and have my daily 'chats' with the 'girls' !

Willow x