Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Voluntary Simplicity

My dad would say that I save too much stuff. I believe that this is only because he tosses/donates/recycles a little over zealously. He has been known to dump my mom's Coke down the drain while she is drinking it. She sets it down on the counter, folds some laundry, comes back and it's gone. I'm so not joking. So I said all that because I know my dad will call bullshit on what I'm about to say.

I have been reading a lot about "voluntary simplicity". It's everywhere in print and online. Even if they don't call it that particular catch phrase there is a general buzz about simplifying your life. It goes hand in hand with "going green" and that has proven to be a marketing gold mine so why not cash in on the next step?
I keep reading all these stories about people who have sold all their things to live on a boat, move to a house in the country with no electricity and become organic farmers, pack up their six bare footed hippie children and live in a bus. That is not the kind of simplicity that I dig. Definitely not. But there is something so deeply appealing to me about owning less stuff. I love getting rid of things (ask that poor unsuspecting television) that I don't use/want/love. It may possibly be my favorite thing to do. I pride myself on the amount of toys my children don't own, that I actually wear every piece of clothing in my closet, etc etc but every day I wish I could have less. I read this article and most of the things said in it made me a little ill but I identified with this part and I think it says pretty accurately about how I feel about stuff:

“If it enhances your life and helps you do the things you want to do, great. If you are burdened by these things and they become the center of what you have to do to live, is that really positive?”

I'm sure there are a million reasons that this owning less appeals to me...I'm sure it's deeply rooted in past childhood trauma having to do with my mom...but the one I choose to acknowledge is that one. What you own owns you. If you have less stuff aren't you free to do what you want to do? Be who you want to be?

To be clear: I do not want to go without electricity, hot running water, a soft bed, beer, Doritos. I have no intention on becoming a stinky hippie (don't get me wrong, I love hippies) or eating only organic food. There is nothing spiritual or deep. I just want to be able to do the things I want to do and I intensely believe that in order for that to happen you can't have a ton of shit weighing you down. You can't have a bunch of bills from the acquiring of all that shit. And most important of all...things are just that. Toys don't create happy children. Six sets of fancy plates don't create fun dinners with your friends and family. Keeping that size six pair of jeans will not make you weigh 120 pounds again. Having a new car will not make you cool.

I could go on.

Disclaimer: Compared to bazillions of people in the world I have so much stuff that it's disgusting. I want for nothing and the fact that we have to have some kind of bullshit "movement" for a measly few hundred people to cut down on the insane amount of buying more and more and more...well it all just smacks of yuppie B.S. Right up there with my super cute reusable grocery bags that are my token contribution to saving Earth. So I am definitely pointing the finger back at my self righteous self and's not enough. You are still sickeningly fortunate and the fact that you even have to worry about owning less...well that says it all right there.

Ok, I will step down from the soap box now. Thank you. hehe

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Love it when you "soap box" Sarah. These are not uncommon thoughts. I believe it stems from our inbred, distorted Christian upbringing which requires us to feel guilty about everything. I'm not blasting Christianity, just the mongrel leaders who bastardize it.

You are correct, having stuff weighs us down. How can it not? This is why I am a perpetual contributor to the ARC. I think they have me on speed dial!

Enough said... How about those Cutie Cute Cute skirt pictures! Hm?