Living Simply versus Simply Living
Although my life is quite stable, and I leave time for relaxing and being with friends, I have recently passed through a week or so that seemed downright frantic. I am busy at work. I still have two kids at home. I am in close contact with my two daughters who live away from home. We have a big house, five cars, and church related activities. I could go on with the list for a while more, but I am sure that there are lots of people out there who would read it and wish their life was that simple.
What does it take to live a high powered life in this millennium? Last Saturday I attended a two day seminar. It was a live telecast to thousands of people. One of the speakers pastors a large church, is president of the denomination, is president of a college he founded, has written 50 books, and has written dozens or more of well known worship songs. This guy is married and has kids and grandkids. My life seems sort of poky and slow in comparison.
However, comparing can be a big trap. How smart am I? How busy am I? How good am I? All of this compared to what or who? How could I ever be a decent judge of any such things? Furthermore, of what use would such a comparison be?
I have always been attracted by the idea of living simply. Apparently this has revived as a sort of fad recently. I see that there are clubs and seminars related to simplifying ones life. I actually believe that I have taken certain measures that are consistent with such a philosophy. Live simply so that others can simply live. I think that is a bumper sticker.
But who wants to simply live? Breathing, digestion, excretion, etc., I don’t think anyone really wants things quite so simple. The second we are born (and probably before) we are in relationship with other folks. For all of eternity God has had a plan and a purpose for our lives. So we will all crank it up quite a few notches above simply living if we have the opportunity.
But what about living simply? I remember my pseudo hippie era. I was in college. All I want, I would say, is a little cabin somewhere. Some books. A stereo and records to play. Some jeans and a tie dyed shirt. A few warm clothes. Sturdy boots. Well, I would want access to medical care. Guess I would need some kind of transportation to get around. I would want to travel some and see the world. Well, movies would be nice. Guess I would need a movie theater (VCR’s and DVD’s didn’t exist back then). Decent food, wine, beer, maybe a few stiff drinks now and then. I wouldn’t want to be alone of course. So at least double everything. Wouldn’t want to give up chocolate or coffee. In fact some nice pastries and a café and a newspaper would be good. Running water. Toilet. Shampoo and soap. Glasses or contact lenses. A good sturdy axe. A way to sharpen the good sturdy axe. Some wood. A wood stove. Matches. Pencil and paper. Would want some way to keep up with the news. Some way to contact loved ones. Mail? Phone? I can’t stand it when my toes stick together. So, o.k. footpowder. Guess I’ll need a place to buy all this stuff and money to buy it with. Would need some kind of job or income. O.K. so I would have to live around a bunch of other people that I could work with and buy stuff from. Yeah but we would like all love each other and share. Well not too much sharing. Some people can really be greedy! O.K. we’ll vote on stuff. Power to the people. Except for the bad people. Guess I’ll need some weapons. Ammo. Something to clean the guns with. Oh man, guns and axes are made out of steel. Guess I would have to let someone build a steel mill. I wouldn’t want to live to close to it. I wouldn’t want to work in a stinking steel mill!! Maybe someone else has the ideal of a simple life working in a steel mill. I hope so. I have to at least have the darn axe. Whose going to dig up the iron ore? Not me!
Do you see where I wound up? There is no simple life. I can sometimes make my life simpler. For instance, I seldom watch T.V. I don’t own a boat. I have very intentionally avoided a lot of hobbies: stamp collecting, model building, fly tying, sky diving, and hundreds more. But then again, I love books. I like blogs and blogging. I lift weights. I do travel some. Good grief, I had four kids. How the heck am I supposed to make my life simpler with four kids! I have friends. The friends are often having as many problems as I am, sometimes more. Maybe I should skip some of the friends. But I don’t have all that many friends. Well just a few close friends. I do want to be nice to other folks. Well, actually, I am pretty sure I am supposed to love them. I can’t love everybody, though. Think of the time and complexity involved in really caring about a lot of other people. Everybody I have time for line up to the right. The rest of you, sorry, but I am trying to simplify my life. No love for you.
I need to lay down. Good thing I have a bed. And clean sheets. I love clean sheets. Nice pillows. Down comforter. Some candles. Oh man, I’m almost out of candles.
This is getting complicated. Gotta go. Bye.