The Difficulties of Simplicity

Those who know me well hear me say it all the time: mine is a simple life.  And I like it that way.

For starters, I work out of my home.  Doing this doesn’t require a cell phone, a car of my own or an extensive wardrobe, so I have none of that.  Our house is small and modest, set in a quiet little New England town devoid of traffic lights and big-box stores.  Our idea of the perfect Friday night is on our porch with wine and cheese.  We get less then twenty cable channels, don’t own TIVO or a GPS and – until recently – I had never heard of Hunter rain boots, Pandora bracelets or (I swear I’m not kidding) Kim Kardashian. (Much of this has to do with my disinterest in both People magazine and our twenty cable channels…)

Some call this life of mine being out of touch. Back woods. Horrifying. I call it bliss.

I have consciously chosen this uncomplicated life with full intent.

A house with no lawn.  A wardrobe that can fit into half of one small closet. A bed with no spread.  A table that only seats four.  Many would consider this laziness, nightmarish or merely problems that must be rectified with a trip to the local Homegoods. But I planned each with delight, all in my quest for a simpler life.

Don’t get me wrong: I haven’t gone off the grid, canceled Comcast or done without the occasional purchase of some item I absolutely. must. have. To prove it, I have a Kitchenaid Mixer and an iPad, both of which I wanted in a very seven-deadly-sins, thou-shall-not-covet way. And since we don’t spend a lot of money on clothes, vacations, spa treatments or home decor, it’s easier to justify these few luxuries.

There’s lots more that went into creating my simple life. I’m not going to get into the how, suffice to say it took rethinking what I really want from my life, how I choose to spend my time, with whom I choose to spend it and what I believe is (and is not) important.  It took a lot of thought… it still does.  But the result is a life easy and stress-free as I can possibly make it, to allow room for breathing through and adjusting to the speed bumps and obstacles that tend to come from out of nowhere and whack us on the side of the head when we least expect it. It’s like wearing elastic pants all the time: they may not be trendy but it sure is easier to bend over and clean spills off the floor.

Actually, it is trendy.  Not the elastic pants (wouldn’t that be freaking wonderful!), but the quest for a simpler life.  So trendy that bajillions of blogs, books and TV shows are bombarding us with myriad tips and tricks on decluttering, organizing and enhancing our lives to make them simpler.  It’s spawned an entire industry of gurus with Oprah-like followers desperate to get on the simple bus and be part of the trend. And driving that bus straight to those specialty stores so you can purchase pretty boxes, organizers, apps, books, at-home treatments and the like to help you achieve a more streamlined and orderly life, home, car, spa bathroom, husband or glove compartment.

The irony is that none of this is simple at all.  And the sadness is that most of these folks are complicating the very essence of simplicity.

Truly, I am astounded at just how difficult it is for others to achieve a simpler life.  But I am far more amused by how difficult it is for others to contemplate my simple life.  According to several friends, the world is coming to an end because I don’t get Jersey Housewives, I have no car and there’s no Whole Foods Market anywhere in this state.

No worries, my friends. For those in fear of my situation, let me assure you I am fine with my simple life. I did it all without pretty boxes, organizers, apps, books or at-home treatments.  Or a bedspread, for that matter.  And it was very simple.