Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is Simplicity Simple?

In a graduate seminar this afternoon a colleague of mine was making connections to Leo Marx's Machine in the Garden(it doesn't matter if you've read this classic text in American Studies) and pointed too some classist elements of the organics movement and the work of Micheal Pollan and the like. My professor responded, "It costs a lot of money to simplify your life! To comment really would have been outside the scope of the discussion but in my head I thought, Wait that's not right.

I've been away from this blog thing for quite awhile. Ten months I think. I've been considering the mode of expression and what I have to say and if I really have anything to say. I've been doing a lot of thinking over the past year. My goals haven't changed, if anything they have solidified. What I know to be truth is that true simplicity is not about buying expensive organic, grass fed, antibiotic-free, non-GMO food. Nor is it about the political statement you make by driving a hybrid car or shopping with a reusable bag, or buying green electronics and household products. None of that has anything to do with simplicity. (And sometimes it has nothing to do with saving the planet either--just think about what it takes to manufacture a Prius and you might pull your bike out of the shed). It may facilitate a means towards such an ends but that is all.

Simplicity, you may argue, is many things, whatever, but I challenge you to this: keep the Sabbath holy, shut down your laptop and open a book a few minutes of leisure reading, choose to leave your cellphone at home for a day (and at other times screen your calls), borrow instead of buy, allow someone to cut in line, choose the scenic way home, learn the tune of the bird's song.

At the heart of simplicity is choice. A choice to not give in to expectations without challenging their merit. A choice to let go and live unfettered.

I'm rededicating myself to living more simply and intentionally. Though I believe strongly about how I should spend my money, this is more about devotion and vocation.

What do you think?

I will make no promises but tonight I am here.