Make it Happen Monday: The Simple Life

29
Aug
2011

Simple Living in a Not So Simple Society

Is it possible to live “the simple life”?  Better yet….is it possible to live the simple life and be happy?  I pose that question to you, but I’m going to also answer it in my semi-professional opinion.

We hear about simplifying our lives all the time….from many different mediums, but is it actually possible to accomplish?  Let me re-phrase that…is it possible to accomplish this in North America?  Well, I can tell you that I am a guy who at times has gone about as far as one can in simplifying their life…..and its been great.  But I can honestly say that living a simple lifestyle is not so simple in the culture of North America.

I’m a major advocate of  “Creating Your Own Culture” and promote this idea to many people, but as one of my life hero’s Morrie Schwartz says…“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves” and it can make living the simple life difficult at times.

I’ve found myself quite confused as to why living a simple lifestyle in North America does not create quite the happiness that is promised.  It does create happiness in some ways….but not all.  I found the answer to this from a great friend of mine named Seth Seaver.  I met, hung out with, and became close friends with Seth way back when we were both living in St. Kitts.  Once Seth returned home to Connecticut, he wrote me and here is part of what he said….

”I need to get away from all of these conveniences and comforts.  They are killing my soul and spirit. I need to get back to the woods or the beach, and live a simple life again. Besides I miss my backpack.” – Seth Seaver

Seth and I both lived the simple beach bum life while we were in St. Kitts, and we were both happy with the situation we were in…..it wasn’t until we returned home to North America that things sort of changed.  I don’t mean to stir up controversy, but here in North America we are not given the chance to connect to our soul and spirit.  It’s possible, but it should come a lot more naturally….like what Seth and I experienced.  Being overloaded with convenience can be a thorn in the pursuit of a simple life.

Whoa, kind of deep huh?  So here’s to bucking the pursuit of living the American Dream and cranking things down a few notches….that is if it’s something you’re after.  The simple life is not for everyone, but if you’re one who craves it……may your soul and spirit find it soon.

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15 Responses to “ Make it Happen Monday: The Simple Life ”

  1. Ally on September 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Well said. I struggle with this in my head a lot. In our society the simple life can become something you long for but find hard to achieve. Though I do think it eventually comes down to choices, for sure. They just aren’t always easy!

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on September 5, 2011 at 6:13 pm

      You’re so right, Ally.  Simplicity isn’t for everyone and it’s a choice that has to be made.  Society makes some things in life way too simple and for some reason it actually makes life more complex.  Strange, but true.

  2. Trimon29 on August 31, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Love this post. And that is kinda redundant because I love all of yours, but it gets to the heart of something we have talk about before. (I also really like Joels Comments below.
    Pamela and I both have held VP jobs at a huge corporation, huge income, and were horribly unhappy. Part of our commitment to each other was to look for ways to simplify our lives, live with less trappings, do more instead of “own” more. For us, and also to try to be an example to our kids about this distortion of what is required to be “happy”. (I am afraid with my older kids this battle has been lost, however we will continue to try!). I am happier than I have ever been, and we continue to drive towards a goal of getting things even far more simple.

    I also wanted to comment about the notion that living in the Caribbean is automatically simpler, that also is a perception driven by media images etc. Having lived on a Caribbean islands for over 40 years (born  there) my experience has been that in many ways it is far more difficult and complicated to live there than in Houston. My point really is this: It more about you , your values, who you are with and the choices you make, than WHERE you are.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on August 31, 2011 at 7:00 pm

      Awesome…thanks Eric.  You are so right about the Caribbean and also about perception.  Living the simple life is not all about location.  You’re also right about having simplicity in some ways can also make things more complex in others.  One example I was just thinking about is having a bike as our main source of transportation for our Family.  It will make things so simple in so many ways, but then when it comes to certain things it will make things more complex as well.  The battle continues to a life of more simplicity.

  3. Heather H on August 30, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Well said Darryl!! I would LOVE to be a beach bum in the Caribbean…maybe someday. For now, I’m kinda stuck on the hamster wheel, but making the best of it :)

  4. Paula Gillingham Bender on August 30, 2011 at 1:36 am

    I like the idea of simplification, too. Hard to get completely off the hamster wheel, though. 

  5. Joel Phillips on August 30, 2011 at 12:28 am

    Oh Darryl, my friend, you are dangerously close to making a political statement with this post.  I LOVE IT!!  I have a fundamental problem with the “American Dream”, it’s not my dream.  That’s to say a 3-car garage and 2,500 square-foot mortgage filled with all the latest techno-crap, designer furniture and a home theater is not my dream.  You and I may be viewed as anarchists in some circles because we say, “Not me brother!  You can choose to ride paved trails all the time, accepting where they take you; or you can hop off the trail and ride where you want to go”.  The difference is sacrifice, hard-work and determination, attributes I think this country began discounting sometime during the mid-eighties.  In the end, I want the peace of mind that comes with living life the way I chose rather than regret choosing to live the way someone said I should.

    I had complicated; six-figure income, constant stress, drank too much, smoked, ate terrible and got real fat, oh a divorce and bankruptcy to boot.  In simplifying my life, I found my soulmate, work jobs I want to work, sobered up and started losing weight.  I’ve quite literally reached new heights and discovered happiness beyond what I could ever imagine.  It took me losing everything I had worked for to realize the importance of following your dreams.  Not the dreams others lead you to believe are yours, but those dreams you still carry from your childhood, when life really was simple.  I vaguely remember a term from one of my Consumer Behavior classes in college, “Social Conditioning”, fancy way to say, “keeping up with the Joneses”, and how it leads to “social rules” (go to school, get a job, climb the corporate latter, buy a time-share vacation plan, contribute to a retirement plan, retire, spend retirement money paying out of pocket medical expenses insurance won’t cover because treatment is “experimental”, and so on…), which is a rut in which most N. Americans are stuck.  The only way out is to not let “social rules” dictate how you live your life, and don’t let fear keep you from giving life your best shot.  To be successful with this, you must have maximum control over your life.  For me, the obvious way to gain the most control over my life was to simplify.  Relieve myself of the burdens that were directing me, dictating my next move and forcing me to conform.  I was never quite satisfied following the rules as a kid, and I don’t know why I thought it would be any different as an adult.  I thrived on adventure, doing things the hard way, wanting to make a difference, now I am able to because I simplified my life.   

    Look at me go on and on, sorry, touched on a subject I am very passionate about.  Great post Darryl, thought provoking to say the least..

    Happy Riding…..

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on August 30, 2011 at 1:11 am

      Thanks for this, Joel.  It’s funny you mentioned the word Anarchist.  I wrote something once about feeling as I was an anarchist (in the absolute best sense of the word….if possible).  I said that and got negative feedback and a reminder of what the word anarchy is all about.  Well, I still feel I’m a bit of an anarchist (in some way) and if I can find that piece I wrote about it, I’ll post it.

      Thanks for your support, kindness, and for leading the way.

      • Clive Chapman on August 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm

        “Anarchist” in the true sense of the word actually means living without rules because you’re “good” enough not to need them. The term “anarchist” as we think of it today kind of got taken over in England in the 19th Century by pseudo revolutionaries who were intent on changing the sytem by violence. A little known piece of my history countries history actually.

        So Darryl, you’re right and they’re wrong! A true anarchist is really living the Utopean dream!

        By the way, great post on so many levels. :-)

  6. Kelly on August 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Whoa….what a beautiful piece, Darryl. I consistently long for the majestic mountains, tallest trees, raging river and quiet moments that are only discovered by silencing the “things” of society.

    That’s why I run.

    That’s why I’m blessed to live where I live…it’s not a far drive to the mountains.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on August 30, 2011 at 1:12 am

      I always know that I did something right when I get a comment from you, Kelly.  Thanks for checking out today’s post and for leaving your mighty fine comment.  Keep on being thankful for the beauty that surrounds you.

  7. Amanda Gale Kotyk on August 29, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks for this one D.  I really to crave a simple life for our family…..and I know what we are searching for in Simplicity!  We will continue to take the steps to get there….thanks for posting this beautiful reminder. 

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on August 30, 2011 at 1:12 am

      Thanks Sweetheart, you and I will work together at making simplicity the answer to even greater happiness and satisfaction.

  8. Dave Boyd on August 29, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Well stated Darryl. Consumer societies depend on people’s wants to fund their business. We no longer buy things because they’ll truly improve our lives, but because our lives aren’t as shiny or as carbon as our friend’s stuff or the store display.

    I like the phrase ‘want what you have’. It’s a good reminder that desires will only be satisfied with contentment, which isn’t obsolete nearly as quickly as we often make it out to be.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on August 30, 2011 at 1:14 am

      I appreciate it, Dave.  I wasn’t going to add this, but here it goes…..Kid Rock used to eat Mac and Cheese and drink Budweiser before he was famous because it brought him happiness.  Now that he’s famous, he still eats Mac and Cheese and drinks Budweiser.  Of course he’s got the money to buy whatever he wants now, but the simplicity of him still relishes in what makes him happy.

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