Somewhere the grass is greener, more lush, more dense and more delicious. Animals jump fences just to take a nourishing bite and humans change countries of residence to try out new ways of life. Fences are everywhere, but mostly they are in our minds.
The real truth about simple living is that its simplicity depends on where you live.
In our married life together, my husband and I have lived near the artful and laid-back Portland, Oregon, resided in Seattle for a handful of years and when we were fed up with the busyness there, we slowed down for eight years on our isolated homestead in south-eastern Hungary. Then life whisked us up to the Scottish Borders for ten months where we lived in a smallish caravan on a very large farm. It was all the wind that we could handle, 70 mph winds blew us all the way down to Totnes, in Devon, a transition town of nearly 8,000 people.
We adjusted to each situation, sometimes taking a week or more to acclimatize. Often the grass was greener, and if only for a little while, we munched on new opportunities, taking the time to digest each place and feel how it suited our needs in life.
So, from city to country to town we have been in search of a space to call home, of a place where our minimalist tendencies have strength and value, where our creative skills are appreciated and where quiet and nature is abound.
Cities are great for finding open-mindedness and exotic eco-products neatly lined up on shelves, but they are far away from where food is actually being raised and grown. Cities lack sufficient space for some humans and animals, sure we can adapt to cage-like conditions, but access to the outdoors and ample space in it, is a must for every creature.
And in a city, shopping is a given. If you aren’t out on the streets going to a store, chances are that someone else is, right at that very moment. 24 hr non-stop shops light up the night, enticing you to spend when you can’t sleep. If you really needed something wouldn’t you have bought it already?
In cities, someone at a corner café is always being served a selection of coffee and tea with pastries galore, as if nobody is saving money by making their own desserts and hot drinks at home. Surely they are, nonetheless the illusion is there and children catch on quickly: if they are out having fun, why can’t I? The urge to buy is constantly there, in advertising, on streets, online (because we are all connected!) and on store fronts.
Buying things in a city is commonplace.
Shopping is what we do when we are bored, when we are done with work and need to occupy some hours before returning again, when we just don’t know what else to do. It relieves us of the duty to think – and to make – for ourselves.
In towns, consumerism is nearly up to the same level of intensity, perhaps more so depending on your neighborhood. A little less stress on trying to keep up and to fit in, but with time pressure and tensions of a city kind. When we aren’t watching the T.V. or Netflix our thoughts tend to be on “what’s next?”.
If we can’t be satisfied with what we have, then we will never be happier with more.
We can be minimalists anywhere we are in the world, that part is easy, but to live simply our research has proven that it is far easier to live a simple life in the countryside, or the village atmosphere, whichever volume of quiet you can handle.
On our farm we had the opportunity to go shopping once a week. It was not a burden, it was a blessing and a pleasure. We had time to plan for what we needed and wanted, we could not just wait for the bus and race 45 minutes (one way) into the city because we ran out of food to make for dinner. In those years shopping became more mindful and self-reliance took precedence. We started making things for ourselves in our free time. Free – as in being free from shopping, from watching, from complying, from following.
And there is more to the story! Simple living and minimalism are life-long journeys, so it goes without saying that there is more than one truth to living simply.
The second real truth about simple living is that is also takes sufficient money if you are going to live well. We are off to our weekly shopping, so will get back to that thought when we have some more free time.
What is your real truth about living simply? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear your story!