real simple

I’ve always been puzzled by the phrase voluntary simplicity. I know I said when I started this blog that it would be categorized by, among other things, a lack of cynicism. I think we are a much too cynical society as a whole, and many of the blogs that I read are rants against something. That’s OK. If the world was perfect, we wouldn’t have much to write about. So I guess I should apologize for the intrusion of cynicism into this post. Voluntary simplicity implies that you have enough resources to live comfortably, but all that disposable income is making you feel guilty, so you basically cut down on buying things. You can even buy a beautiful glossy magazine called Real Simple that gives you hundreds of suggestions each month on how to voluntarily simplify. I would think that one of the first ways to simplify is not to buy magazines, but that’s just me. Sarcasm aside, I wonder what it really means to truly simplify in this day and age. There are millions, if not billions of people in the world who are victims of involuntary simplicity. Could we give up our cell phones, our iPods, our second cars, our second homes? I remember seeing a photograph of all of Gandhi’s worldly possessions; sandals, eyeglasses, eating utensils, and a prayer book. Thoreau brought some books to his cabin at Walden, a few tools, pencil and paper, and not much else. I subtitled this blog a “virtual cabin.” Thich Nhat Hanh talks about withdrawing to his “retreat” when times get tough. Do we have our own retreats, virtual or otherwise, when things get too tough and we need to regroup? Do all the things we have hamper us from finding that place? What do we need to get rid of to be truly fulfilled?

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