Saturday, 22 August 2009

What is *your* "simple life"?

by Eilleen
Consumption Rebellion

You know there are days when I look around and I can not believe that I am where I am right now. See, I have never thought of myself as particularly "green", nor do I see myself as particularly "frugal" either. The "simple" movement had never been something I ever regarded with interest.

See, I grew up in the 80s - the "decade of greed". I grew up at a time when "more is good" and successful people were those who worked hard, played hard and had HEAPS of stuff. I grew up at a time when the media (in the form of TV) had finally started marketing directly to children. Michael J. Fox, in his role as "Alex Keaton", in Family Ties was the very embodiment of who we should all be.

So how did I end up where I am now? I guess, one day, for me I just finally acknowledged that I didn't like how too much stuff made me feel. I just finally acknowledged that stuff didn't make me happy. It wasn't a big or sudden revelation - it just slowly creeped up and finally ended up with me doing my no-buying-brand-new for a year in Sep 2006 - the start of my simple, green and frugal journey...though I never thought of it that way at a time.

I know many readers here are "green" (or dreaming of being green). Why? What is motivating your actions and your thoughts? I know that for some of the writers here, like Gavin, it was very much about the environment. For some others, like Compostwoman, it was a combination of carrying on family traditions and the coming of her child.

While our motivations will influence our actions, I think that it would be fair to say that for most of us, the journey would mostly consist of a lot of little steps. And each step would bring new awareness - sometimes, of the whole path but more often than not, of just the next step.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across this story and thought I'd share:
There’s a story about a young man hired to work in a coal mine. When they gave him his equipment, they told him: “Make sure you have an extra battery, so that your light will never fail.” They were talking about the light on his miner’s hat.

“But I have a question,” said the young man. “My light seems dim. It only shines for a couple of feet in front of me. If I’m underground in the dark, I can’t see what’s ahead in the tunnels. I can’t see anything except what’s right here in front of me.”“Don’t worry,” they told him. “If you have any light at all, you can see well enough to take one step. So take that one step confidently. And then there will be light for another step.”
A simple life is different for everyone. And for me, it has been something that I have defined and redefined over the years and over a number of small steps. I expect that as I grow, my definition of a simple life will continue to change as my needs change.

So what is *my* simple life at the moment? My simple life consists of:

  • valuing and spending as much time with my children;
  • buying as ethically as I can; and
  • making choices that will help me physically, emotionally and, yes, even financially so I can do the above two.
I am slowly letting go of my "Alex Keaton" role model. Letting go of notions that I need to work long hours to give my family more stuff. I am letting go of notions that success means buying everything I want.

The journey has been sometimes difficult but at all times, empowering.

What is simple living for you?

Photo by Globetoppers