Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Week of Voluntary Simplicity - My attempts - Part C

It doesn't do any good to bring out a book and wave it at people, saying to them "Do Something" without examining my own life.

Voluntary Simplicity for me is a way of thinking as much as a way of living. It means thinking out significant decisions in as deep a way as I can. Recognizing the difference between a need and a want, and also realizing that on occasion, there is room for the things we want. It also has to do with letting go of anger, envy, greed and mindless privilege.

Here are some truths for me:

It is easier to achieve when there aren't children in the house,
it is easier to achieve if there is a single income that has been carefully considered over the years,
it is easier to achieve if there are other people around me who aren't determined about getting somewhere else (raises, jobs, new this or that),
it is easier to do if I don't shop often, don't read magazines, or listen to the news.

Here's a metaphor for you. If every item in the woodshed were a decision, and they don't all fit nicely together, and there are a few that don't fit well, and a few that don't fit in at all but nearly do, but they are made with the intention of simple living, then eventually the woodshed holds it all together.

It is harder to do if I am tired, sick, lonely or angry,
it is harder to do if I have tied myself into a knot by denying myself something that isn't really that significant.
     (For instance, the world won't end if I buy a book instead of borrowing it from the library, in fact, it can    be good for the publishing industry)
It is harder to do when I feel I am acting with poor information; if I don't trust the media or the politician or the corporation.
It is harder to do when being simple feels like a political action that rubs my friend's noses.

That doesn't mean I don't attempt it, it's just harder. Sometimes too hard, and I give myself permission to fail and try again later.

What do I do that's simple? The easy stuff, because it's easy. We recycle, reduce, reuse and repair. I know how to do many handcrafts, knitting, sewing, spinning, cooking, preserving, making music, reading, writing and drawing. I can reduce some kinds of shopping, make things, and entertain myself quite easily. I like being with people sometimes, this increases my engagement with community. I volunteer, another way to create community. I work from the home, we reduced the number of extra curricular activities we all did to reduce running around, we take time to assess decisions, we take time to celebrate. Especially my birthday, which requires cake and cards.

Here's another metaphor. Simplicity looks different for each person.

What is really tricky is finding reliable information to make decisions with. Banking - our mortgage is with a bank I regret instead of a credit union. Pretty much the same with investments. Politics - I think everyone is lying about something - I have no faith that the political arena is a good arena. But I do believe I have a duty to keep expressing and demanding my civic rights, my environmental rights and political rights. Maybe one day these systems will heal.

I am terrible at going to rallies or writing politicians. I am good at community building and communicating. It is possible for us each to act in our own political way. And to let go of judging.

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