Thursday, August 03, 2006


I'm learning that simplicity is a relative term. I'm speaking of simplicity as it relates to life and life-issues.

For many people that term conjures up images of voluntary simplicity also known as simple living. It means living with less stuff and spending less.

For some it conjures up ideas of living off the land like Helen and Scott Nearing or even Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond experience.

But I have recently come across another explanation which startled me. Why did it startle me so? Because I have always assumed that in order to live more simply one must follow the above examples. We, meaning my husband and I, try to live a lower impact lifestyle, recycling heavily, composting, doing things for ourselves, trying not to buy excessively, all of that; and so do many of our friends.

But now I have a friend who has shown me another example of simplifying her life. She is moving not to a more rural area where she would have to do more for herself, but to a more urban area. Her husband is being transferred but she sees the simplification of her life in not having to drive so far to get the kids to all of their activities. The simplification of having a grocery store close by instead of 30 minutes away. The simplicity of having public services, parks, amenities available. I had truly never looked at it that way before and I am stunned by the realization that if indeed the purpose is to simplify your life, the end result is the same no matter how you get there; less stress, more time, more of whatever you are looking for, less of whatever you don't like.

So now instead of trying to do more I am back to my Aunt's philosophy (which I had lost sight of for a while), do less. Do more of the things that matter but less of the things that cause stress. I'm also still following my Mom's good example and trying to re-examine what I own to see if I can part with more stuff. Less stuff means less dusting, less clutter and for me that means a lot less stress.

Sometimes that different perspective is so healthy and really opens up new pathways in the brain, we just need to be open to the circumstances around us to see those opportunities.

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