Last night the first workshop for the Simplicity Collective was held and I am happy to report that it was a success. A wonderful evening of story sharing, philosophizing, and homemade spicy pumpkin soup. Thanks to everyone who turned up. It was truly inspiring to hear your stories and insights. No matter how many books I read on simple living, I learn the most when I am in conversation with others who are also exploring the simple life, sharing stories of the difficulties and delights.
One of the most important lessons I got out of last night was how unanticipated some of the delights of simple living can be. In many different ways, its seems that giving up a materialistic good can lead to some greater non-materialistic return, whether it be in time, community, or something else. The simple act of sharing something with neighbours rather than each ‘having their own’ is a perfect example. Which community is richer? The one where each has their own? Or the community that has less but shares? The answer seems clear.
The other theme that reoccurred last night was that simple living isn’t particularly simple. It’s all very well to be intellectually or ethically convinced of its merits; it’s all very well to have known the delights of simplicity and to recognize that the simple life is the good life. But it is a fact that Western-style culture makes simple living much more difficult than it needs to be. I don’t think there is any quick fix solution to the problem of a consumerist ‘social structure’ and I am not exactly sure what a social structure which encouraged simpler living would look like. But it is an important point to consider, I think. Why is it that those of us who seek a simpler life sometimes, often perhaps, find ourselves ‘locked-in’ to a consumerist way of life? Perhaps that’ll be a good topic for discussion at the next workshop. It seems to me that the very act of coming together to explore such issues is part of the solution, if only to show that there is a growing interest in a simpler way of living beyond consumer culture. That alone is affirming and may be an encouragement to continue the struggle for a simpler way.
Thanks also to those who have contributed their musing to my last post on “What does the simple life mean to you?” I find all the posts enlightening and would encourage more of you offer your stories / insights. Putting them into words may not only affirm your own conception of the simple life, I am sure your words will also help affirm and develop other peoples. Hope to hear from more of you soon.