The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn’t simple. ~Doris Janzen Longacre
According to dictionary.com the word “simple” contains the following five separate definitions:
- easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.
- not elaborate or artificial; plain.
- not ornate or luxurious; unadorned.
- unaffected; unassuming; modest.
- not complicated.
What draws many of us to the idea of simple living or simplicity parenting is contained in those first four definitions. We seek out a life that is easy to understand, that is easy to deal with, and to see children thrive in uncomplicated settings where they can work through within their own blossoming knowledge and reason. We tire of the throw-away world of plastic and single-use items and instead choose to fill our lives with what is beautiful and lasting. We see thru the eyes of our children that what is simple and plain is the best instigator for true adventure and imagination.It is a beautiful notion, this idea of simple living. Even those of us most engrossed in the daily hustle and bustle that is the thrill of the modern day roller-coaster find a moment to wonder about a simpler life or attempt to recall a collective memory of a simpler time. Why then do we, as a society, not embrace this wonderful utopia that lies on the other side of the garden gate?The answer is simple.The simple life is so far removed from our idea of normalcy that it appears wild, messy, unpredictable and complicated. Anyone who’s embraced any modicum of simple living has heard this mentality in our friends, family and neighbors. They see the work that goes into baking a loaf of bread, planting a garden or knitting a scarf as an endless stream of labor and frustration, but think nothing of the trip to the grocery or department store. How is making dinner from scratch simpler than running through the drive-thru?The answer is simple.It’s not. That drive-thru meal is fast, available and “simple”; except that it’s not “simple,” it’s convenient. Convenience, the word many associate with “simple,” has taken over our lives. It is convenient to have every article of clothing made for you, continually available and cheap. It is convenient that what passes as food is waiting for you in some form in every building and on every road you could arrive at. It is convenient, but when you factor in all the processes, the people, the mileage and the lack of social justice that provide for these conveniences, it starts to look rather complicated.Planting a few tomato plants in the backyard and picking Big Boys and Brandywines all summer long appears quite simple when compared to the strip-mined tomatoes that grow year round in Southern California with the aid of chemicals, pesticides and cheap labor so that someone across the country can enjoy the convenient slap of a floppy tomato on their drive-thru burger.When we make with our own hands or through the exertions of our own bodies and minds, the finished object becomes something greater.In the words of Khalil Gibran
“Work is love made visible.”
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi
“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not the attainment, full effort is full victory.”
In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson
“The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.”
When you work a little harder during the day and fall into a welcoming bed at night, I guarantee you will feel more at peace and more productive with your life than with any day’s work that focuses on convenience. I see this evidence so often with family and friends who lament that their days are boring and uninspiring, who fill up their free time with fast food and hours of television, and who cannot fathom doing more with their precious free time, yet they don’t understand why they are unfulfilled when ambling to bed each night.One of the greatest things I can do in my life, to paraphrase Blsd. Mother Theresa, is to do small things with great love. I can choose to do a little more with my day, fill my days so that when I fall into bed at night I can look back on all the ups and downs with a sense of accomplishment. Perhaps I made a full dinner for my family or pulled a few weeds or picked a tomato and by doing so, I gave myself exercise, fresh air, and better food, all of which nourishes the body and the soul. It all requires a little extra work, a little sweat, and a little time. However, simple living is not about the process, it is about the result. It is about that warm, fuzzy happy feeling that comes with a little work. That feeling is achievement, and it is what we gain when we find beauty and joy in the most mundane aspects of our day to day lives.
Molly is wife to Ben and mommy to Henry. She began her blog, Molly Makes Do, as she and her husband were taking the road less traveled detour on our paths to becoming parents and adults which included extreme career changes and a over a year of multi – generation living while welcoming the next generation into their family. She writes about all the little bits and pieces of life that get patched together to make something greater.
Editor’s note: This post is a part of the Homestead Barn Hop, Frugal Friday, Farm Girl Friday, Your Green Resource, Simple Lives Thursday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, and Works for Me Wednesday