Saturday, July 2, 2011

Simple is not easy

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony." William Henry Channing

For a long time I've been interested in something called Simplicity... and toyed with the things to be done to live a simpler life. Some folks look at me as though I don't do enough, and some like I am crazy to do so much extra work. I think they confuse simple with easy.

Simple is not easy. Simple requires work, and discipline and planning. A lot of it!

To live simply is to live a lifestyle as old as mankind... to build and maintain a garden plot can be back breaking work but what is simpler than feeding your family wholesome vegetables and fruits? And it requires a certain amount of knowledge in order to be successful with preparing the plot, tending a compost pile, planting and starting your seedlings, weeding and watering during the growing season, dealing with garden pests, harvesting, and preparing and preserving food for consumption. I make no claim to do all of these things well, but I have observed during the years I could raise a garden that it responds to my every attempt. And every attempt, and the reward of seeing the garden thrive, made me want to try harder and get better at it. Simple, but surely not easy.

Things I do inside my home like preparing food from scratch instead of using pre-packaged offer another example. As does cleaning it without buckets of chemicals. Sometimes it takes research, trial and error, and a degree of luck to get things just right so again I would say simple but definitely not easy.

Think for a moment about laundry hung outside to dry as compared to being tossed in the dryer. Drying outside in the fresh air and sunshine is infinitely simpler but it does require the work of hauling the wash outside, wiping down the clothesline, pinning it up, waiting for it to dry, then taking it down and folding and returning to the house to be put away. Tossing it in the dryer is usually a step or less away, dries more quickly in artificially heated air, requires more chemicals to reduce static and make it smell pretty. Now do I always dry my laundry outdoors? No. Sometimes I take the easy way out. But it's important, I think, to be aware of how not simple it is to toss it in the dryer by the time the energy is produced and transmitted my house, I give up some of my earnings to pay for it to heat air up and force it into the tumbler, spend more money on fabric softener (which I don't even want to think about how it was produced) and then waste the heat when it is exhausted outside. Ok, so the heat part is more aggravating in the cold winter months... To use the natural elements at hand and dry outdoors is simple but not usually easy.

Simple is not easy!

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