It is generally agreed that simplicity and money are just not good bedfellows. Simplicity is all chaste and virtuous, whilst money fondles around looking for an excuse to get down to business.
Many simplicity folks tell you to ignore the pursuit of money and focus instead on being frugal and pursue your passions. They are certainly not wrong. Yet money is a powerful lubricator. As Sophie Tucker knew, “I’ve been rich. I’ve been poor. Rich is better.”
So you’re interested in simplicity, but you also like your comforts. Is it not ‘simpler’ to make enough money to pursue your passions and live in a nice house without having to worry? Does one necessarily precede the other? Where to begin? Should the true simplicity-seeker abandon all riches and head to the nearest cave to begin ‘Yogidom’? Can you still own a Ferrari?
In my ‘wrinklifying’ eyes there are a few key thoughts when it comes to filthy lucre. Let us look at that Ferrari.
- It is not so much possessions, but attachment and maintenance of possessions that does the damage. If you can enjoy your Ferrari and love it for its beauty, yet leave it in a multi-storey car park and be unconcerned if it gets stolen, then perhaps that’s just fine.
- It’s all relative. If you have $100 million, buying a Ferrari isn’t an issue. However, if you have to sacrifice years of life working to buy one, your time might have been better spent.
- Can you put a value on the non-material things, like time, anxiety and stress? Do you worry about getting mugged in your shiny beast? Are you more likely to kill yourself driving one? Are you able to weigh up the benefits versus the negatives?
- Does the Ferrari cause damage to others or the environment? Is that worth the benefit?
- What does the Ferrari mean to you? Is it about mechanical purity, or ego pea-cocking?
The Ferrari is an extreme example – yet I noted another famous simplicity author being chastised for her BMW. Who cares? Perhaps that BMW is worth it, for her. Perhaps it would actually make her life more complicated to get rid of it? Is it such a big deal?
Simplicity is not a competition, and it means various things to various people. For some, simplicity might mean living in the centre of town, so they can walk everywhere. In Manhattan, this requires a load of money. In Paris, there is an elegant simplicity in the way people live. They live in small apartments (bring out the minimalist-living aficionados) and prefer to walk or cycle, yet they have expensive clothes and rich foods and other areas of life where they are certainly not simple.
There are no right answers in the pursuit of simplicity – only honesty. If you can examine your needs, wants and desires honestly, then the ‘simple’ and true path toward contentment becomes clearer.