One of my favorite things to do online is to read blogs by everyday Joes and Jill’s. I’m even more keen on this, having joined the blogger tribe more than a year ago. It’s fun to be part of a conversation and read what people say and how they say it, and view their web designs. Blogs have frequently given me good advice and sparked new creativity. Best, they’ve linked me to others with similar needs and wants, dreams and fears, as questing, yet fallible, beings in life’s journey.
This morning, my daughter sent me a link to a blog I found just fascinating. www.theminimalists.com More than 100,000 subscribers apparently agree. It’s the work of two young men with writing finesse. You get the feeling they’re sitting across the table, talking to you. I started reading their posts this morning and became this greedy kid with his fingers in the cookie jar, devouring one post after another,
Minimalists, they share a passion for getting down to life’s marrow. They’ve done this in their own lives, downsizing their living quarters, forfeiting television, that great time mugger. Courageous, they quit their six figure salary positions in the corporate world to live independently, sustaining themselves through their own resourcefulness. Not many of us enjoy their liberating lifestyle; instead, we often endure life with anxiety riding our backs.
It’s like Walden all over again–you know, the hut in the wilderness experience Thoreau undertook to redefine the good life. (That guy has to be one of my all time favorites.) I like the way he put the matter of simplicity: “Our life is fritted away with detail. Simplify, simplify.”
Yet simplifying doesn’t come easily to me. I don’t know about you, but I cling to memories and am obsessed with routine. I collect junk. I hate throwing things out. I don’t like change. Yeah, the jig is up: I confess to being a sentimentalist junkie.
I know some people don’t seem to have difficulty tossing out past memories or replacing old friends, or moving to new climes. But I’ve always been different that way. When I was a child, I’d frequently make myself scarce to avoid saying good-bye to those I loved. Silly, I even hated giving up my worn out shoes, friends who’d been with me everywhere. I remain that way about a lot of things, cluttering my life with the inconsequential.
Still, I’m beginning to do better in lightening the load. Take the mail for instance. For too long I’ve been in the habit of creating disheveled piles on any available surface in the house. Now I sort the mail immediately, sometimes on my way walking up the drive, separating the wheat from the chaff.
I know it doesn’t amount to real simplification, but it does indicate my awareness I need to learn how to let go.
In a way, the life Karen and I live is already simple. Finances make that the only real option. I’m retired and my wife soon will be. We live in an older house of modest square footage. We don’t purchase frills, or things we don’t need. We seldom get out of town.
Right now, I’m thinking about shedding my many books I’ve gathered over the years as a prof. This isn’t as easy as it may seem. I’m a lover of books. But I’m also more aware I need to give to others what I no longer require. I haven’t looked at most of these books in a very long time anyway.
Elise Boulding, the renowned sociologist, put the whole thing succinctly: “The consumer society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.”
Like my worn out shoes, it’s time to let go. Time to simplify.