The real truth about simple living is that it not only matters where you live: in a city, town or countryside, but your success and happiness in living a simple life also depends on your income.
We ourselves don’t like to be categorized or put into boxes, but the real truth about simple living is that the more money you have (up to a certain point), the easier it is to live simply. It is a sad state of affairs, that amidst all the technology, higher education and clever innovation of modern mankind, those who are poor and forced by circumstances to live with less often have a difficult time just getting by.
Access to clean drinking water is a problem worldwide and it will continue to be such, as long as wealth is distributed in an old-fashioned manner. We all deserve access to healthy food, shelter and water, so why is the divide between the impoverished and the adequately wealthy so great?
Greed separates nations, cultures and humankind. We realize it, we know it. The next step is to accept it and to move on, solving some multi-generational problems along the way. Just because the poorest people do not have running water, it doesn’t make their lives simple by design. In fact, it probably makes life harder.
We don’t have running water at the moment in Romania and we didn’t have running water for eight years on our homestead in Hungary either. Due to other comforts in life, such as having bicycles and just enough money to occasionally ride the bus, and with an artesian well for drinking water being just 1.5 kilometers away, we managed just fine.
Fact is, that running water does enable people to live more simply. Having water that runs through pipes allows time for other activities, not just practical, but creative. It allows more time for living, not just for providing – or attending to survival.
We speak with our actions and our money, so when we knowingly buy cheap items, how can we expect the worker(s) on the other end of the line to make a decent living? How do we know what environmental damage we cause to ecosystems halfway across the globe? How do we know that workers are treated fairly? That they have enough? In a world where the rich are wealthy beyond imagination, it should go without saying that deep poverty and slavery should no longer be allowed.
When you have money, it makes it infinitely easier to live a minimalist life. Definitely easier to live a sustainable one.
Have you ever noticed how healthy, less-processed foods cost more? Imagine you are at the grocery store, filling your cart with food and products of name brand origin: how does it feel to support corporations? How does it feel to import your basic diet? You probably already know how it tastes, so I won’t venture to ask that.
Then picture yourself at the local farmers market buying your weekly groceries. Initially it is going to be a price shock and that is why the transition to buying local is seldom easy.
Locally produced food costs more.
Organic costs more.
Sustainable costs more.
Handmade costs more.
Artisan and small scale production costs more.
You get the picture by now.
Less is not only more, quite often it costs more too.
But before you shoo the thought away that living a simple life cannot be the lifestyle for you, because you can’t afford it, or it seems too difficult to get started, etc., think again.
How can you afford not to live more simply than ever before?
How can you look all the low wage earners in the eye and say that I deserve to live a better life than you? That I deserve a bigger home because I earn more, I deserve to drive a car because walking is for those who can’t afford better.
Living in Devon, UK, I walked 1400 kilometers back and forth to work in just one calendar year, at work I was on my feet all day. Walking was my preferred method of transportation for health and environmental reasons. Perhaps I could have asked for credit to buy a car, after all I have driven for more than eleven years of my life, but all the steps taken were a great experience. Sure, we can’t all walk to work, it depends on our locale, but if we want something strong enough, then we become creative, we harden our souls/soles to achieve what we need.
Having a certain amount of money allows one to make better choices based on the environment rather than choosing based on what is readily available.
Charity shops exist because of excess and overconsumption. It is a place where used items are thrown out and given away, when we no longer hunger for the growing clutter in our homes. It is a good thing we have them, so that not everything ends up in a landfill, but the problem still exists that we are perpetuating bad materials – plastics that cannot be recycled, clothes that cannot be composted.
So, once we have acquired that significant amount of money to be able to choose, we can wait for the time it takes to own handmade items. We can opt for a set of hand-thrown clay bowls and plates, rather than head to Ikea for the latest trend.
With a proper amount of money, we can afford art and craftsmanship, we can afford the human aspect of helping fellow men and women to live meaningful lives, and as a bonus, when we are able to buy locally, then we are making acquaintances, if not friends.
We are at a critical point in history, facing climate change, distrust and rampant consumerism.
More than ever, we need to feel the weight of these words: “Live simply so that others may simply live” Mahatma Gandhi
We need to take these words to heart and actually start living it.
Having money helps.
When we have enough for ourselves, then we have plenty to give to others.
The real truth about simple living is that it is within reach for us all, we just need to open our minds and recognize its existence. It is always there, like the river and the ocean tides, ready to take us away to a better place – only when we learn to let go.
What is your real truth about simple living? We would love if you told the world about it in the comments below!