“We can travel a long way and do many different things, but our deepest happiness is not born from accumulating new experiences. It is born from letting go of what is unnecessary, and knowing ourselves to be always home. “
-Sharon Salzberg, co-founder of Insight Meditation
For me, these last 10 months on the road, living very simply, has been a rite of passage. Finally I built up the gumption to follow some of the dreams that I’ve had as a youngster. And as I review the metaphorical gems, jewels, rare spices and silks that I am bringing home, one of the largest jewels is learning to live simply and with less.
Almost 5 months spent in SE Asia help me to understand that many physical pleasures and comforts are unnecessary.
Biologist and conservationist Thomas Lovejoy says “Reducing our expectation is very much in our own interest.” He says we cannot treat the world as a giant shopping mall and suggests that frugality, like after WWII, is the way to go for the USA.
Reflecting on simplicity, on simple living, I understand that it isn’t a choice for many people around the world. Many people live simply and locally because that is all they have. As an American, I have to CHOOSE simplicity.
I believe that we need to choose simplicity, that our world cannot give endlessly of her natural resources, as they are finite. We can learn from our parents and grandparents during WII, and grow victory gardens, save every rubber band and thumb tack and wear thick sweaters in the house in winter to keep the heating bill down…and to keep the carbon dioxide out of the air, and the petroleum in the ground.
In his 1863 essay “Life Without Principle”, Thoreau issues a challenge:
“Let us consider the way in which we spend our lives.”
With simple living, it is all held in there. Our time is inherently more valuable than money, since money cannot buy us more life. But using our time wisely, fulfilling our long cherished dreams, that is buying us the time that will allow us to also die with more acceptance, more peace in our hearts, knowing that “Jesus, at least I tried.”
With this thought, Erik and I would like to create our next chapter to be self-reliant, slower paced, community based, and use a fraction of the earth’s resources to live a rich, meaningful life.