Does the Simple Life Exist, and Do We Really Want One?

Do you ever picture yourself living in a small cottage or apartment somewhere pretty with mild weather, your favorite person at your side?

Your space is uncluttered, and your closet contains a basic wardrobe appropriate for a simple life. Books are stacked in heaps, but a TV may be lacking. Playing cards and board games could be set on one side. Is there a pet or two sprawled in the sun, or perhaps even that is too much responsibility?

Your days are uncomplicated and undemanding. You spend hours outdoors in nature, possibly exercising or working in your garden. You may read, write, draw, paint, listen to music or simply sit. You have a few friends (or family) close by, and socializing is easy and unforced.

You buy your daily food fresh from a local store, and your meals are uncomplicated. Almost everything on your plate looks close to how it did when it started its life. 

You sleep eight hours a night and wake refreshed.

Have you ever dreamed of this, or maybe you are living it right now?  

We live in a picturesque town about 25miles / 40km outside New York City, and I love (almost) everything about the Big Apple and the northeast!

I value the privilege of living so close to one of the greatest cities in the world. We are spoiled for choice and make the most of all it offers. It reminds me of a giant machine that thrums and spins twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year. The energy is palpable.

When we want a break from the hubbub, we have countless natural spaces within close range. In under an hour, you can swim in the ocean, ski on a mountain, hike the hills or cycle beautiful paths. 

But eventually, we have to return to our pulsing world, the place we live our daily lives. 

A house with loads of stuff, cupboards filled with clothes for every event and every season, a garage filled with tools, toys, and equipment to tame the weather—whatever it is doing—and the laptops, the ubiquitous laptops. They bulge and sigh, burdened by all they contain.

We all have our own throbbing lives, and although they are interesting and stimulating, they come freighted with all the pressures of being alive in 2022. 

Recently, I was talking to a dear friend who said many people in her social circle were pursuing “a simpler life.” Burnt out from decades of working, raising families, and the stresses of modern life, they were choosing a different path.

I listened. She wasn’t the first person to talk about the trend of pursuing a simple life. 

Was it a side-effect of the last few years? As the pandemic months slowly, painfully ticked by, we had time to truly examine our lives and how we spent our waking hours. 

Was this all there was? Had we been sold a bill of goods? Had we been deceived into thinking that the busy-busy, accumulate-as-much-stuff-as-possible, he-who-dies-with-the-most-toys-wins approach to life was the ultimate goal? How had we been persuaded to chase this dream that, in many ways, can be a nightmare?

Millions of people around the world started to pare down their lives—some, sadly, because they had no choice. Others went on shopping sprees like never before. If they couldn’t go to the movies, the pizza place, the playground, or the gym, they would darn well have it shipped to their house. 

Whatever route we each chose, now, almost two and half years later, I keep hearing about this desire for The Simple Life. 

But is it really practical? 

I look around my own home and at my daily schedule and consider what I could and am willing to give up. Quickly, I see stuff I could happily donate and items in my calendar that could be set aside.

However, I know there is much I am not ready to forego. I enjoy my home comforts and conveniences. I love the choices and variety that sit right inside my home and outside my front door. Do I need five different types of body lotion? Did I really need to have my nails done?

So, I grabbed a sheet of paper and, without deep contemplation, started listing things I’d rather not live without. The list was an eye-opener. Most items were rather basic!

Starting at breakfast: decent ground coffee and a good French Press. The New York Times, preferably print version, but online would be acceptable….and so on.

Slowly it dawned on me: the question was not so much could I start to pursue a simple life, but rather, could I start to put it in place right here and right now?

Can you really have the best of both worlds? Is that even possible?

For now, as I slowly weed out “the stuff” of my daily life, I will focus more on The Simple Mindset until I am ready to pursue The Simple Life.

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2 comments on “Does the Simple Life Exist, and Do We Really Want One?
  1. Paul Fleischack says:

    Hi Jayno. Beautifully crafted and I loved the shadow pic of the coffee pot and mug. I’d want these in my simple life. Yes, we’ve shed so many goods, responsibilities, commitments and yet I still dream of having even less….
    Love to you all
    Paul

    • Jane Paterson says:

      Thank you, Paul. Reaching for a simple life is an ongoing process. Look back at how far you’ve come & that will inform your path ahead.

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