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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Forced Simplicity

Last Monday, our television died.  Then the very next night, Tuesday, we received our fourth snowstorm of the season which had the very bad manners to bring Ice and his very good friend, a thirty-six hour power failure, with him.  So between the TV being dead and then the rest of the house being dead, we were subjected to a kind of forced simplicity, which was actually a little stressful. It didn't help that the brunt of the power failure took place on one of our fast days which is when we have only one meal for the day. We decided that if a power failure ever occurs on another fast day, that fast day is quickly going out the window, and that it truly is a good idea to include comfort foods in your emergency supplies. Now I get why. Things would have gone so much smoother if I just wasn't so damn hungry.  And I'll also plan better for what to do the next time. If I lose another game of gin to Steve I don't know what I'll do but my story will be cabin fever and I'll stick to it.

What is truly weird about this was the timing, because for the two previous nights we'd been watching How to Live a Simple Life with Peter Owen Jones.  I was more curious than anything when I decided we needed to see it because, this will not surprise you, I haven't made any real headway with my vow to buck the consumer economy, and I was beginning to suspect that the real problem stemmed from not simplifying our life enough.

What I mean by this is that I haven't simplified my needs; I'm still confusing my wants with my needs.  If I understand the concept of simplicity well enough, then to live simply means to live within your needs. Learn what is enough and then learn to live with enough. If you get this right, then somewhere in there you're supposed to discover your own happiness as well, because getting more stuff does not make you happy. Oh sure, I'll be happy when my shearling Birkenstock Bostons show up but that's because my toes are so freaking cold.  Could I make do with a much cheaper pair of slippers? Possibly, but most slippers do not come with a cork sole and Birkenstocks do, which is more insulating on this unheated stone floor that we have, and I'm not actually paying for these shoes. Steve won some serious brownie points at work and the most sensible thing he found he could do with the award money (which isn't actually cash) was to order some Zappos gift cards, so I'm getting new slippers and a much needed new winter jacket for free, which, as we all know, is my favorite price. (Actually, I like it better if you pay me to take something off your hands, but that's all part of the negotiation, n'est-ce pas?).

And yes, I'm one of those doom and gloomers who thinks that life is going to get very difficult very soon, so I am hoping to learn to live simply sooner so that I'll be used to it later when everyone else is forced into simplicity. I seriously hope that I'm wrong here, but I don't think I am and I, for one, want to get ahead of this curve because it's going to be a doozy.

So in the meantime between now and the great Forced Simplicity, I need to get my needs understood.  And I need to learn to live within them.


Janis said...

Glad to see a new post! The snow & ice we had was bad enough so I'm thankful our power didn't even flicker. I agree that tough times are on the horizon so I'm reassessing my needs and wants as well.

Rain said...

Hi Paula,
I guess that once we figure out how to live simply with what we need, it does become what we want. I've been slowly heading this way...slowly...for the last 20 years or so. I used to be an all out city-dwelling consumer. Living in the mountains and having a reduced income was forced simplicity for me! Now I can't imagine paying for things I used to (in my opinion) waste money on. My boyfriend and I have decided to live off one income and it's been quite the adjustment, but we quickly realized that we'd rather spend money on fishing lures to catch our dinner than on take-out pizza, where the immediate gratification wears off too quickly! It takes time, but I don't think we need to turn into frontierswomen completely :) I still love my Tassimo lol...