Thursday, June 15, 2006

More Simple Thoughts

Adding more thoughts onto my search for a more simple life, and maybe making myself a little more coherent in the process. That post really jumped around.

Everytime I have run into the "Simple Life" philosophy it is during my search for tools to help me with being more frugal. DH and I have chosen a difficult, even though it is fairly well tread, path of one parent working in a two-working parent economy. Locally, most families who choose this path do so with the working one earning six-figures, or nearly that. We earn less than half. Real estate prices are high and going up, local taxes keep increasing, and our state having the highest gas sales tax in the region - keep pushing our usable income down. Finding new ways to do more is just another one of my jobs, and truly one I actually enjoy. I think of it as a financial scavanger hunt.

I won't go into how we do it, because I learn the way most everyone else does; internet, library books, trial and error. I don't have any new ideas. And if I was better at it I wouldn't have to keep coming back to re-educate myself.

From frugality to simple living. Frugality has become to me, yet another rat race. One well running - but sometimes it just seems like I am trying to live like everyone else just with less money. The stress is still there and it eats away at something in my soul. Something is missing from the practice of frugality.

Frugality, in my mind, addresses how to live in a middle class way, without middle class money. How to make the money stretch to cover all those things. But, over the years I have ended up with way too many of all those things. All those things are not making me happy. Frugality would help us save up money to move into the bigger house - but do we need the bigger house.

That is where reading about Living Simply has opened up those doors for me. It isn't about how to buy more stuff or have more stuff inexpensively, it is about having those things that we need or really enjoy having. To me, it is going to be the process of removing those things from my life that cause stress, that don't improve our lives in anyway. It is readjuasting our thought process from what we need to buy to do something, to what do we have that can already do the job, not so much to save $$ but to not use about anymore resources. It is about not buying a newer, larger house, but instead making the one we have work for us. Spending more time closer to the land and nature, and less time holed up inside the house for one reason or another. It is DH not feeling like he has to work two jobs in the summer. It is the children not growing up feeling like they constantly need everything.

One of the most striking things that has touched me during my readings, is how people (who approach simple living in many different ways) express how by making these changes they have found a more spiritual life, no matter what there spiritual beliefs are. They are living closer to nature and feel a connection to the world around them. This alone, where I am right now, draws me in more than anything else. The wordly clutter we have collected has gotten in my way of experiencing the Spirit found around us. Taking care of the clutter takes a lot of my time, time I would rather spend doing things that I find enjoyable and useful to God and to the community at large. The overwhelming clutter at times makes me feel like a failure because I can't keep it clean or organized all the time.

I have no idea how far along the path we will go before we say this is fine, this is comfortable. I am not even sure which path we will take. That we will see as we journey. We may not stay in the same house, but maybe we will. Personally, I find myself dreaming about life in a neighborhood or village of like-minded (not necessarily the same religious orders) people. A true community that pulls together resources and have open doors, and such. A place to be able to work the land and enjoy nature. That being said, I still want my computer and internet, tv for special programs or watching movies. I want a home with heat and AC. But, this is the dream I was talking about. The chances of this being our path, of DH taking this route I would place at less than 1%.

Our first step is going to be emptying the storage unit and ruthessly determining what actually will be allowed back into our house. I will alo be going through the house to decide what has accumulated recently that we don't need.



1 comment:

Melora said...

I've really been enjoying your posts on your efforts to simplify and live more frugally. I've been thinking along the same lines. We are currently living on less than half of a six figure income, but, since we went through a really rough patch prior to my getting a job, this feels like a lot of money. We have a small house, one car, and don't take real vacations (aside from the trip to visit my parents that we've gotten to take for the last two years). If we sell the house and move, our income will be dramatically reduced, and we will be quite poor. I think this is what I want, because the alternative is to be comfortable financially but miss most of the few precious years of my children's childhoods, and also stop homeschooling. I'm really struggling, though, with the idea of no longer being able to buy books or treats for my kids. I love the idea of that community of like-minded people who are interested in a less consumer oriented lifestyle.

A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.