I was recently rereading this old post of mine, in which I mused on the meaning of "simple living." I wrote that to me, simple living means
"embracing a basic, fundamental form of living--shrugging off all the excess complications of modern society, and instead living in harmony with the land and the seasons, rising with the sun, growing one's own food, enjoying the company of family and friends, staying close to home. This type of life that I picture seems to me to be the way people have lived for hundreds, even thousands of years, before modern technology changed our basic patterns of life."
Then I got to thinking: What "excess complications of modern society" have we, as a family, shrugged off? I write often on this blog about the things we do, but rarely about the things we do not. And I think the latter is an important point too. Life is so busy and crowded in the 21st century, that we can all benefit from being selective about what, among all the abundance of everything out there, we allow into our lives.
1. Electronic gadgets. Although we love our home computer and use it for so much, we have never felt the need to own any kind of hand-held electronic gadgets. To be perfecty honest (and I know this will make me look silly) I'm not entirely sure what a Blackberry is. The kind I am familiar with is normally used to make jelly...
2. Cell phones. Neither Chris nor I has ever owned a cell phone. I just don't see the point. Yes, there have a been a few times he was at the grocery store and it would have been nice to be able to tell him to pick up something extra that I remembered, but in our view, this very occasional convenience isn't worth a monthly payment, as well as another object to carry around and try not to lose (I lose my keys often enough as it is!). We have a basic landline to our house, with one phone--which I bought second hand for $4--attached to it. This works just fine for us.
3. Two cars. We only drive one car, which is 15 years old. To me, one car is expensive and troublesome enough. I don't think I would want to have two cars to keep repaired and insured. Having only one car has the added effect that we tend to spend more time together, because we aren't able to go in different directions at the same time.
4. Television. We canceled our cable tv about 3 years ago, and never looked back. I love not having so much noise and so many advertisements floating throught the air in our home, and I especially love that my kids spend more time on imaginative play than they did in the cable tv days. We do have an old second hand tv that was given to us (just a regular tv, not wide-screen) that we use for occasional videos or DVDs.
5. News. We don't read the newspaper, listen to the radio, or otherwise seek out news at all. The constant stream of ready information today, I find to be overwhelming. Not to mention the fact that much daily news is depressing or upsetting. I have enough to worry about in my own daily life without worrying about what's in the news, too. Yes, I am often the last to know about important events, but if something truly monumental happens I'm sure to hear about it from family or friends--and much sooner too, than people would have heard of important news in previous times, when information might take months to make its way across the globe.
6. Extracurricular activities. We do put the kids in various activities at our local community centres (soccer, swimming, etc.) but never more than one activity at a time. With multiple children, our family life would quickly become far too busy if we put each of them in two or more activities. And I don't believe that the children themselves really like to be in a rush all the time. Right now the only thing going on is Owen's swimming lessons, and they are a fun weekly event, to which Kira often tags along to watch.
7. Fashion. Chris and I have never been the least concerned about the current fashions in clothing, furniture, home decorating, or vehicles, and I'm glad, because this has saved us so much fuss and bother over the years, and allowed us to be perfectly content with owning mostly inexpensive second hand possessions.
Those are just some of the common elements of modern life that we are happy to do without. We enjoy living our life simply, being together most of the time, working with our hands, and appreciating the things we have and the beauty of the natural world. Our children spend most of their free time doing things like digging in the sandbox or making play forts, rather than rushing around on a schedule. Although we have little money, overall our stress levels are very low.
I would love to hear my readers' comments on this topic. Please, share with me what things you have chosen to do without, in an effort to keep life simple and joyful.