Not So Simple

Many simplicity bloggers around write so consistently and with such positivity that one wonders whether they are mere mortals.

Usually the better ones amongst them write about some struggles along the way, but nearly all seem to have burst through their difficulties when they write. Many a post’s fundamental sentiment is; ‘I used to…’ or ‘it is difficult when you start then it becomes easier’… or ‘then it all became clear…’ or ‘and when I gave up drinking and meat and breathing that’s when I finally started levitating’.

Damn them for their precocious simplicity ability and know how. What about the rest of us who merely see glimpses of the truth through the barrage of our day to day?

I started writing this blog because simplicity wouldn’t go away and I wanted to explore it more deeply and dutifully. By writing and thinking and writing and thinking (plus some more writing and thinking) in the public domain, I knew I would leave myself open to more criticism, fear and failure. Knowing myself as I do, I knew that at times my discipline would run up against it. Fortunately the blog has mostly coincided with being in Kenya, allowing me significant space to begin this journey. After all, I had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with so the writing and the thinking and the being was easy.

However, in the last month or so as I’ve dived back into the ‘real world’ of London and Europe and began to power up again, I have been reminded how difficult simplicity is to maintain.

Not so difficult that I am in any doubt that it is of vital import. I remain convinced that simplicity is one of the sterling and most powerful tools at our disposal.

But thoughts of success, money, achievement and status have levered their way back into my consciousness. The noise of consumerism shrieks so loudly that it is almost impossible to ignore. The judgement of others much more potent than when you’re hiding, far far away. After a month in London I found myself pacing around and chomping, or is that champing at the bit with the same fervour as everyone else – if not more so to make up for lost time.

Then, thankfully, I had to return to Kenya, where I now sit, and find myself seeing things in perspective once more. I want to try to take some time to digest this roller-coaster in the meagre two weeks I am back – watch this space.

Simplicity, however much time and attention you have given it remains a significant challenge. It is only by continually reminding yourself what is important that you can make any progress. Sometimes, even with these reminders, you slide backwards and things become more difficult.

What these bloggers do is allow gentle reminders. I wonder if they even follow their own advice? Their popularity is perhaps because they turn the reader’s mind back to action – or should that be inaction.

Please don’t leave simplicity to an e-mail read quickly once a week. Help me out by reminding yourself as often as you can to at least think about what you’re doing as you rush around – and whether it is really the path to contentment.

When you see me rushing past doing three things at once, please feel free to remind me also – I need all the help I can get.

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3 thoughts on “Not So Simple

  1. Hi.

    My name is Fritz. I have read two of your posts so far and I relate alot. I appreciate you sharing about your enlightenment to the importance and power of simplicity. I myself realized this last year. I went through one year of making more money than I care to admit and denied myself nothing I could afford and I desired (which was not much). I then had an experience that opened my eyes to this direction in life I was taking. I began to be disgusted at myself, honestly. I possessed so much. Some friends and I finished the year by going to Mexico City. We spent a week there and had an amazing time. I had some friends there and got to spend some time with them, which allowed me to observe their lives and surroundings. They weren’t rich in the common sense of the word, but they had enough. I will forever be grateful for that time, as it erected this awakening. This awareness.
    I realized how blinded I was through my pursuit of the American Dream. How faulty it is. The comfort. The desire for more. The greed. All one has to do is look at so many of the celebrities and their ongoing lives. Are they happy? Are they content? They have everything right.
    I then decided to pursue simplicity. I told myself I would not continue on this path of abundance, but to a path of contentment. I shunned the idea of overextension, for example. People these days plunge themselves into ruins by buying on credit. Bigger and better is available, so why not? All I have to do is pay monthly with interest. Although, I could pay in full this smaller one, which fits all my needs. But I want more.
    I hated that attitude.
    Let’s fast forward 6 months. I got a new job. I moved. Things went seemingly well. I believe you know where I’m going with this.
    I got into a car accident 3 weeks ago. And they have declared my car totaled. I am perfectly fine if you’re wondering (thank God). But now I will received a check of the value of the car. It’s not a whole lot, but it’s enough for a car. I had my heart set on this newer car until I watched this movie tonight. It is called ‘The Edukators’. You should watch it if you haven’t.
    Through it, my heart was completely exposed. I saw myself, where I was 6 months ago, and where I am now. I have tried to hold on, but the inundation of this culture of materialism nearly drowned me. I hardly noticed. I knew it was not beneficial, but it was easier to not fight. I didn’t do anything, but my heart. My attitude has changed. And I just realized how much through watching this movie.
    Back to the car story. Before watching the movie, I wanted to buy this nice car, safe, reliable, fast, even luxurious. I would be putting a down payment for maybe half of it, and paying the rest off in a few years. So much for my promise huh. After finishing the movie, I woke up, once again. And now I refuse to choose the car. Why go beyond my need? I can get a perfectly good working car and pay it off fully. This is the greed we are talking about.
    I just wish I could hold on to this perspective I have now. But I know tomorrow will come, and the world and it’s power will hit me and etch my views a piece at a time… I really just wish I did not desire the nicer things. I really do. I see it as an ever-lasting weakness. And now I am not sure how this round will go, but I will give it my best shot.
    But deep down in my heart, I know it will take more than giving my best shot. I think I will need to move. It would be nice to move. Moving to a developing third-world country, where the riches aren’t in my face so much. Where poverty is little more rampant so I may be reminded of how good I have it. A country where the people’s heart aren’t so focus on materials or on what the person has and does. I believe that way, I will be more grounded. My head and my heart will not be tempted so much. I believe only then, I’ll be able to enjoy in completion the true lasting things in life: family, friendship, community.

    I don’t know when that will happen, but I hope it will soon. Families here are ruined through consumerism, pop culture, and television. And I don’t want mine to be one of them (at least my future mine :-).

    Thank you for your words. May God bless our efforts towards simplicity.

    -Fritz

  2. Hi Tom, lovely writing – I’ve restumbled back across you after losing sight of you in the gazillion and one different blogs that have been nabbing my attention (!) recently. I honestly find keeping the calm and simplicity in London borderline impossible, and I’ve not figured out how to tone it down (apart from hiding from the world in my apartment, which surely can’t be the right answer!). I’ve escaped to Italy for a week and found the calm, and now down to the English countryside, which is gloriously calm – I’m not bombarded with adverts, messages, shouting, etc. I realised that in the space of 5 minutes in London you probably read the equivalent of a small newspapers’ worth of text, and that is all essentially voices going round your head – so much for calm and quiet! So, if you figure out the answer, do please blog about it. I suspect the answer lies in hunting down London’s quiet spots. Not the tube then. 🙂

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