I long for the simple life.

I greet the morning slowly and in quiet. I take my first deep breaths as I stretch into a forward bend and into a downward dog. The day unfolds before me as a calm and pleasant series of purposeful and fulfilling tasks. I move through my day at an unhurried pace, taking time to breathe deeply and to enjoy the nature around me. The people I encounter are pleasant and positive. I have a simple and organized environment to accomplish my life’s work. I am unfettered by an overabundance of possessions that need to be cared for and guarded. I pursue interesting and meaningful hobbies. 

mystery%20butterfly2b.jpg“Gee whiz. Where the heck did this come from?” I can hear you saying.

Despite the fact that it’s a long holiday weekend, I’ve been working at my desk the whole dang time to make up for the fact that I have spent most of the past month traveling.

This much I know is true: There is absolutely nothing simple about traveling for a whole month.

Here’s just a sampling of what happens when you aren’t at home to take care of your complicated life:

  • The weeds that have been lurking for just the right opportunity, leap at the chance to seize control of the garden kingdom.
  • Little dogs become just a wee bit high strung and barky from lack of continuity and routine.
  • Items in kitchen cabinets no longer reside in their original resting places. None of them.
  • Refrigerators devolve into a disorganized and occasionally rotting, fetid unrecognizable lump.
  • Garden blogs languish from lack of attention.
  • Desks are heaped with mail—most of it junk, but some of which requires immediate attention. If you could just find it.
  • Lists of un-done errands extend to more than one page of notepaper and require a staff to accomplish.
  • Work piles up so that (obviously) you have to work over a holiday weekend to try and dig out of the hole.

Oh, I recently had quite a lot of time to think about the simple life before being slapped in the face with all the above. Sitting on a plane from California to Maryland with only a book I didn’t even like and a seat mate that I liked even less meant I spent a lot of time with my eyes closed, mulling over my sorry situation.

That’s how I pinged pack to the whole simple life concept.

(See how all this just flows nicely together here?)

Now, just to be crystal clear, I’m not talking about Simple Life as in that insipid magazine (which I refuse to link to). I’ll admit that I have picked this particular magazine up from time to time. I have occasionally even PAID for it, after which I felt like I had been fleeced for my four bucks or so.

Really, I don’t need a magazine to tell me which is simply the BEST deodorant or to compare the BEST winter gloves. Deodorant and warm gloves will not make my life more simple or peaceful. The editors of this magazine seem to think that their readers are simple minded. They must be yukking it up in the halls of their fancy editorial offices at how they can MAKE MONEY with a magazine that is high on graphics and low on content. They must really find it funny that they get to tell women how to make the very best omelets ever and which toothpaste to buy.

Wowee. I seem to have a pretty good rant going here. Sorry about that.

So, you ask, if Simple Living (the aforementioned insipid magazine) isn’t really about simple and you’ve had all this quality time in planes, trains and automobiles to contemplate, ruminate and cogitate on the weighty subject of simplicity, just what the heck have you concluded?

I’ll start by telling you what I think it’s NOT. Simple living is NOT about deprivation or frugality. In my mind, at least, it’s not about squeezing every penny until it screams by rinsing and re-using plastic bags or sewing bias tape to the legs of your kids’ jeans to extend the length because the poor kid sprouted over the summer. Simple living is not about only taking vacations that offer the benefit of a friends’ couch or a relative’s basement guest room. Simple living is not about only shopping at those wretched, big box warehouses that require you buy in bulk for a small army and stock up until Doomsday. Simple living is not about unplugging or disconnecting. No Idaho log cabins for this gal.

More rant going, I guess.

So if that’s what simple living is not, then what does Robin consider Simple Living?

I’ll tell you. Thanks very much for asking.

Here are Robin’s 9 Tenets for the Simple Life.

1. The simple life is having time for the things that matter and that you find enjoyable. It means taking the time for celebrations, not just of birthdays and weddings, but of the first flower in spring or a new drivers license.

2. The simple life is having what you need—when you need it. That also means having enough money to give to causes that you support or to nieces living in poverty. It means planning enough in advance so that you don’t have to complicate your life with last minute rushes to the store for something forgotten.

3. The simple life is not being a slave to an overabundance of possessions that require care and maintenance. I believe that it was Charles Rennie Macintosh who said that you should strive to have only things that were useful or beautiful or both surrounding you. It means loving what you have, not necessarily having what you love.

4. The simple life means your possessions and your time are organized. What is the old adage? “Everything has a place. Every thing in its place.” Organization—or time and things—reduces the need for frenzy and rush.

5. The simple life is being able to say “no” to a job or responsibility. It means sticking to the “no assholes” rule—or at least making sure your adequately compensated for the aggravation.

6. The simple life is maximizing your health and fitness so that you’re able to meet each day with energy and joy.

7. The simple life is feeling at peace with the people in your life. It means minimizing time with negative people or “friends” who display little care about you and more care about what you can do for them.

8. The simple life is having a support system for help when you need it. It also means that the people you share your life with do their part to take care of themselves.

9. The simple life is having the freedom to explore and travel—even if it’s only in your mind, online or at the local library. It’s the time you have to engage in the hobbies and interests that the harried masses don’t have. It’s that part of simple living that makes you a really interesting person.

There really should be 10 Tenets, don’t you think? I wonder what I am missing? What are the overarching rules that contribute to simplicity in your life?

(Please don’t send me hate mail because I don’t like that silly magazine.)

–Robin (Peaceful Bumblebee)

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