Thoreau goes on to say, “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.”
I’ve talked a lot about simple living on this blog. I’ve talked about my decluttering efforts, my desire to live with less, and also the practices of slowness and stillness and being present.
But I still don’t think I’ve dug deep into the “why” of my simple living journey.
When I began, I was—and, to some extent, still am—simply overwhelmed with stuff. I’d just moved, and I couldn’t believe how much stuff my husband and I had accumulated during our eight years in our apartment. All of that stuff felt like it was weighing on me. And still, every time we take a few things to Goodwill or drop off a box of books at the library, I feel lighter, as though a weight has been lifted.
We have a long way to go. This is very much a journey, a process.
But today, I want to talk about another why. Why do I want to live more simply? I could talk about the extravagances of consumerism or the burden of stuff, but I want to talk about something less philosophical.
I want to talk about the fact that I’m simplifying my life so I can focus more on the things I really want out of it. And that, the unique way each of us lives our lives—how we spend our time, what we think about and how we think about it—is authenticity.
If we’re present, we’re authentic. One cannot exist without the other. If we’re leading a truly simple life, we’re authentic. We can’t help but be, because we’ve (mostly, usually) let go of the trappings of a life that isn’t the one we want to be living—the time-sucks, the aspirational ownership (you know, the stuff we own because we think we should, not because we use or love it). The way I kept my art easel long after I’d realized I wasn’t going to pursue painting (and, also, I’m fairly awful at it). The books we keep because, hey, they remind us of the person we were/want to be/want people to think we are. The French cookbook we’ve never cracked because we prefer making enchiladas over beef bourguignon (nothing against either, by the way). The exercise equipment from failed New Year’s resolutions. All the things we said yes to when our hearts were saying no.
When we simplify, we create both space and time in our lives. We free up time for true passions. We free up space—physical, mental, emotional—for joyful, purposeful, creative lives.
And this is the connection between simplicity and authenticity. Simplicity can guide us to a place where we are authentic, if we truly simplify, if we truly listen.
I realized that I had gotten so caught up in freeing up space and time that I had lost sight of a bigger why. So, this week, I sat down with my yellow legal pad and a pencil (I do my best brainstorming with these tools—always have and I don’t know why), and I tried to identify what I truly wanted out of my simple living journey. Here’s what I jotted down:
- simple house in the country
- publish three books/stories per year
Simple living has given me space to think about and pursue these things. My husband and I have talked about going to stay at a lodge a couple hours from here once the weather warms up a little. It’s a place on a lake surrounded by beautiful hiking trails. We’ve talked about going camping and attending a couple faerie festivals this year. I want to get back into a regular writing routine this year, which seems to be coming more naturally now that my life isn’t cluttered up with other people’s “shoulds.” We’re trying to own less and save more, so if/when we do decide to move to the country, we can live in a smaller home. And I’m actively submitting my stories to publishers and other outlets.
I have a clear vision of the life I want, and my husband and I have talked about the common goals we share for our life together, creating a shared vision. Having finished his master’s, my husband is dedicating his spare time to game development, a passion of his. We’re creating side by side—my stories, his code. (Who knows? Maybe one day, a joint venture where the two meet?)
Thoreau’s quote is one of my all-time favorites. At one point, it was written on a white board on my fridge. I think of it often. Envision the life you want and then move toward it.
Imagination. And then, action. These are the ingredients in Thoreau’s famous quote, and they, together, make up authenticity. Moving toward the life we envision for ourselves.
Simplicity is just one tool we can use as we strive for an authentic, meaningful life.
So, what action steps did I take this week?
Wrote 3,501 words in Spun Gold, a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Revised the first chapter and part of the second chapter of Spellfire’s Kiss. Submitted a short story to an e-zine. I’d like to keep moving forward with writing 3,000 words per week in Spun Gold and revising two chapters per week in Spellfire’s Kiss. I’ve never worked on two projects at once like this before, but it’s an experiment.
Not much progress on this. I’m largely waiting on hubby to recover from the flu so we can start taking boxes/furniture to Goodwill, and for spring to arrive so I can start more projects.
Not as much exercise as I’d like, but I’ve cut way back on sugar. Still skipping meals, though, and want to improve in that department.
What about you? How do you embrace authenticity? How are you combining imagination and action in your day-to-day life?