Thoughts on a simpler life

September 8, 2010

Image: Traci Designs

I hear a lot of talk about a “simpler life,” especially among us Baby Boomers. We’ve all had our big or time-consuming jobs and we’re tired and ready to take it easier. I’m definitely in that boat.

But I wonder if there is a common definition for “simpler life.” Or if our generation is simply unable to achieve true simplicity. Because I see so many of my age group creating more pressure and stress by taking on even more in their “simpler life.”

Seems to me that more has become the new less.

Downsizing is part of a simple life. But all downsizing really means is that you’ve got and are acquiring less stuff. It may not have much to do with simplifying your life in the ways that count.

Doing what you love is also part of a simple life. But if doing what you love means doing a half a dozen things at once, it may not be all that simple.

I struggle with this, myself.

Just 18 months ago, I had a full-time job. Plus I taught one or two courses a semester at a local college. That’s 1.5 jobs, easy. Lesson plans for two different courses and sometimes graded 75 pieces of writing homework a week–with individual comments. That took an unbelieveable amount of time.

I had two homes, maintained them, repaired them and commuted 3,000 miles between them. I did volunteer work. I eked out time for personal writing.

I went to dog training with Riley. I spent play time with him. Lots of time. I saw a trainer a few times a week. I traveled. I read. I spent time with friends. I had a relationship.

I was doing the things I loved. But this was not a simpler life, by anyone’s definition. It was way-full, way-busy and at times, way-stressful.

My life is very simple now.

I shop. I cook. We eat more natural foods and fewer processed foods. We don’t go out to eat all that often.

I have plenty of time to think about things and to blog. I haven’t yet done much other writing, though.

I hang with my dogs and M. As a result, Riley and I have bonded more tightly and he has become more obedient.

I read, which is the one thing that I had little time for when I worked and taught. I attend a monthly book group.

I see friends for coffee, lunch, dinner. I see a trainer four or five times a week.

We travel.

That’s it. That’s my life.

I make noise about finding a teaching job, but I haven’t looked, really, and I don’t want to yet. Not until we are settled in our permanent home.Because that would just complicate things.

Friends ask and I make noise about my memoir, but fact is, I haven’t done much on it. It’s still percolating…. and it needs to.

I know it would be very easy for me to fill days with writing, creating lesson plans, teaching and trying to pack. I could say I had a “simpler life,” and it would be true, at least compared to my life in 2008.

But really, it wouldn’t be simple at all.

So, a few questions:

When was the last time you sat on the beach letting sand sift through your hands with no thought of time and things you “should” be doing?

Or the last time you emptied your mind of “to do” and simply sat on the grass and watched a dandelion puff change shape in the breeze?

When was the last time your “to do” list looked like this? Or that you weren’t behind on your responsibilities? That you didn’t have a list of people to whom you owed a response?

Are you still rushing to finish things in time, apologizing for not following through promptly, letting important things lapse?

I think we need to be really careful about how we define a simpler life.

That we might ask ourselves if, in fact, our “less” is actually our new “more.”

And if in that, we are doing ourselves a disservice.

One comment on “Thoughts on a simpler life
  1. Sandy at Ooh La Frou Frou says:

    FABULOUS, girl. SO true. I’ve been trying to simplify too and that’s difficult for someone that needs visual stimulation and enjoys creating constantly and is easily bored. I’m trying to weed out the things that don’t add to my life. I’ve whittled away at a few of them and when I did I felt as if I could breathe better. Loved this post. I’ll read through it another time and maybe even print it.

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