taking a vow to live a simpler life
what it means to me and why i did it…
for me, taking a vow of simplicity means living a simpler life, not buying into perpetual, relentless mainstream and even not so mainstream marketing.
the first step was eliminating the tv & most radio listening. without the never-ending barrage of commercials convincing me of how much i needed or wanted to buy anything and everything, i began to seriously look at buying and having, just for the sake of buying and having. for most of my adult life i’ve questioned the need to have more and i finally reached a point where it stopped making sense; or rather i came to my senses. next to go were almost all magazines. not that i purchase them, but i had been checking quite a few out from the library. i began to see that almost all modern, popular magazines were 90% advertising. that figure is unscientific and i know it is a bit exaggerated, but in many magazines, what seems like content, is actually cleverly disguised marketing. case in point: a well established, monthly woman’s magazine has a regular feature that at first glance seems innocent enough; it captured my attention. it shows you how to take 2 or 3 key wardrobe pieces and create 4 or 5 totally different looks. one look is for the office, one for a date, et cetera. the jumper was designed by someone who’s clothing i could never afford. it cost as much as a weeks worth of groceries for myself & hubby. the magazine even publishes the stores that carry it, and the website, making it easy to make the purchase. the scarf, t-shirt, tights, shoes, jewelry are also, i believe too pricey for the average person, but all the information is given so that you can, if you choose. it’s just another ad, and i am learning to pay attention and not buy into it.
i have everything i need to live and more than i need to be happy. i probably have enough clothing and shoes to last the rest of my life, and if i do absolutely need to replace something, you can bet i’ll buy it at a thrift store (everything except undergarments).
i do own a car, but both my husband and myself bought a couple of old bikes and use those for traveling in town. when we do drive, we keep a running list of all the errands we need to do, so we can do them all at once, and drive as efficiently as we can. i’ll keep my car as long as i can, and when the time comes to replace it, i’ll get the best used car with the highest mileage that i can afford.
my home is rented, but after being skinned in the real estate market, we’re not in any hurry to own again, and y’know what? i’m totally okay with that. buy more stuff? for what? i don’t need the latest, greatest anything, just because “they” say i do. i don’t need fancy make-up, i rarely use it anymore and think i look better with less (it took me 50 years to finally become completely comfortable in this shell that holds the real me). i have stopped coloring my hair and actually like the gray. perfume? it makes some people sick and i prefer to go without, tho’ i do like using a couple of natural essential oils on occasion. i have all the furniture i need, actually should find a home for a few pieces that were given to us. i may need to recover my sofa someday, but the clean sheets i tuck in work just fine.
i used to long to visit exotic places; those thoughts now make me ask why? just to say i’ve been there? you’ve probably heard that saying: “no matter where you go, there you are”? well, it doesn’t matter where i go, it’s still just me inside, right? when we stop and think about the fuel necessary for those cruises and jets, it truly puts it into perspective. my grandmother rarely left the state of ohio, and she never seemed to need to.
more, bigger, better, newer doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me anymore. what’s wrong with what i have? i take issue with businesses tearing down a perfectly good building, to replace it with basically the same thing, just cleaner, shinier or different. fast food restaurants are notorious for this. for the record, who exactly do you think is paying for that new building, or the giant grocery story remodel, bigger aisles, new carts, added convenience? i guarantee it isn’t coming out of the ceo’s pocket.
think about the cost to the planet, to produce every single thing we buy. a machine to produce the thing. the energy to run the machine to make the thing. the energy for the laborers to get to that job, to produce the thing. the energy to produce the packaging for the thing. the energy to ship the thing to a warehouse, energy to store it, energy to ship it to the store, energy for the store to be open (sometimes 24 hours a day, because if we want to buy a thing, we may want to buy that thing right now). energy for all of the store employees to get to the store to work, energy for you to drive to the store to purchase it. energy to produce, store and ship the bags to take the thing home in.
now i know what you’re thinking. what about free enterprise? what about all the employees i just mentioned that need those jobs. yes, i get that. everyone needs food, clothing and basic healthcare. how many feel the need to have jobs so they can buy all the extras, all those unnecessary things they want but don’t need? working so you can take vacations? buy designer clothes? drive fancier cars, live in bigger houses that require more energy to heat….
my head is spinning.
alas, my husband and i will put a garden out again, but this year it will be a bit bigger. beyond that, what more do i really need?
i read a book recently about voluntary simplicity & the author made a statement that really touched me. this is not a quote, but the general idea.
EVEN THE POOREST IN THIS COUNTRY LIVE BETTER THAN SOME IN MANY COUNTRIES; OR PERHAPS MANY IN SOME COUNTRIES.
think about just how good we have it and how much you really need to be happy. can a thing give lasting happiness? when you purchase something in the spur of the moment, you will never gain anything but momentary, fleeting joy it. when you long for some possession, a thing, a car, a piece of clothing, a bigger house, that thing you just saw on that commercial, it cannot bring you true, lasting happiness. it does not have much potential to make you happy beyond today or a week at most. the thrill of buying it is often gone as soon as you get home.
lasting happiness does NOT come from worshipping money or material possessions….
think about the real reason you make most purchases. stop buy blindly. quit purchasing things just to purchase them. live in the moment and allow yourself the time to ponder why it is you’re about to pay hard-earned money for that trivial token. stop going into malls or walmarts or huge discount stores, just because you can’t think of something more productive to do. make a list of the last 5 things you bought that made you happy. i’ll bet you can’t.
what i’m learning, that i can do better… going out to eat. it seems more and more nowadays, when i’m invited to get together with a group of friends, whether it is a few or a group, we meet at a restaurant. i guess that alleviates cleaning house before, preparing the food and then the clean-up afterwards. i certainly understand that, but what happened to just being comfortable enough with your loved ones to not feel a need to impress. so what if there is a bit of dust hanging from the dining room light? i don’t care if you don’t; it’s not the end of the world. however overconsumption just might be. save your money & save the planet; eat at home.
i also hope someday my loved ones understand that i don’t need a thing except their love and company. please, i really do mean it; no gifts required.