Monday, December 04, 2006

On Simplicity

So we thought this would be a good season to practice the art/discipline of simplicity. As a community, we wanted to engage in a counter-cultural Way that would seem truer to us. We decided that we would observe some common rhythms and really check in with the grit of life.

So here's what we did/are doing...

• Sharing income statments and budgets with each other
• Inventorying all that we own
• Learning the art of giftmaking
• Giving away as many of our possessions as we can (or selling them at a community garage sale and giving away the proceeds)
• Experimenting for a week without any media (TV, books, magazines, etc.) and only wearing 1 or 2 sets of clothes and not purchase anything for ourselves

This has all been good/hard stuff. I am in the same shirt I was wearing almost a week ago...and you know what? It doesn't stink so bad. And the need to shower once a day? Yah, might be a made up thing.

Each of these things has helped to reveal what is truly important to us. It's been hard getting rid of things that we only wear once every couple of years, but it's been freeing all the same. One of the other community members pointed out that simplifying really just means clearing away the clutter so that we can devote ourselves to what is really important to us.

I like that definition.


david g said...

just for an additional (though not necessarily opposing or counter) view, these words from wendell berry on simplicity:
"When I am called, as to my astonishment I sometimes am, a devotee of 'simplicity' (since I live supposedly as a 'simple farmer'), I am obliged to reply that I gave up the simple life when I left New York City in 1964 and came here, In New York, I lived as a passive consumer, supplying nearly all my needs by purchase, whereas here I supply many of my needs from this place by my work (and pleasure) and am responsible besides for the care of the place."
A good observation, I think, that there is nothing simple about what gets labeled as 'simplicity.'
I enjoy your site and it is great to see the way your family is living.

Kirsty said...

Sweet. I'm very excited to learn more about what you all are doing, seems awesome:)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, bathing everyday is something parents obliged their children to do when indoor plumbing became all the rave (and the kids lacked the judgement to know when they had become offensive :-). In becoming parents, we quickly realized that to continue in this tradition would be a luxury that we would not always be able to afford. Some cultures consider a distinctive odor attractive. We're not seeking to join the ranks of those, but in as much as missing/skipping a shower conserves water, its all good. Add to it the use of more natural body products and an appreciation for the power of a good pheromone, and its a good day whether it includes liquid revitalization or not.

Anonymous said...

Daily ablutions are desirable in very hot weather - but I'd say that your nose will tell you when you need it in any other season. ;)

My husband & I tried simplifying what we allowed in our lives some years ago. We gave away most of our books, music, and other toys in order to concentrate on living simply before Christ. We shut off the paper, the magazines, and we didn't have cable - so we had plenty of time to think.

I think we were blessed by that spell of purification - but I was very glad to get many goodies back when it was time.

Seeing as I've already lived the back-to-basics dream a few times (as a kid), may I make a few suggestions?

If you are only going to have a few clothes, it is important to recognize that 20thC department store wear is not designed to last (or remain presentable) as did those durable tunics of yesteryear.

You will need to keep a 'public' set of clothes in storage for some occasions (or else plan to make your own clothes of sturdy materials) ...or prepare for disfavor in official situations).

I would not suggest oversimplify your toolboxes or craft-related materials.

In fact, you may want to increase the number of practical hand-tools your community holds in common, especially if you are trying to be make your own repairs, grow your own food/herbs, etc

& As you lose the electronic toys you are going to want arts & craft hobbies all the more. Besides, they are an awesome way of focusing, and then expressing your spiritual journey.

May your little Paxton's next phase be a happy and more restful season for you all.

Happy holidays!
Susan said...

i dunno, ryan... you know i stayed in a remote area in nepal and those people washed everyday. they didn't use the massive amounts of water as we did, but they surely pulled the soap out with a lil' bucket of water every single day. i don't think the issue is every day or not. i think it is about how long you are standing there with the shower running. even the rich in nepal and thailand i noticed turn off the water while lathering. then they turn it on to rinse :)