When I suggested doing a study group on “Voluntary Simplicity”, my good friend and green neighbor Ms. B had a violent reaction. “I can’t do this!” she cried. “We have busy lives, we are well off, we live in a big house and travel and shuttle the kids across town for lessons, and Simplicity is just not possible!” I don’t think it helped that I brought it up as we lead into the holiday season.
I’m sure Ms. B is not alone. Modern American life is busy and complicated, as well as being (for many) materially abundant to the point of excess. Being told to “Live Simply” during the holiday season does not always go over well. On top of shopping, baking, house cleaning, trip planning, earning a living, coping with disasters physical and interpersonal, we’re supposed to do it all “Simply.” Calmly. With only thoughts of the baby Jesus in our heads and in our hearts.
Well, sorry, it’s not stopping me. Next Sunday, November 10, we’re starting that study group (4pm at the new Collectivo on 68th and Wells). We have a great workbook from the Northwest Earth Institute (aka EcoChallenge.org). We’ll meet for 5 sessions, do some readings and talk about them, and drink some warm beverages.
I don’t know what we’ll come up with. Maybe American life is too tight a knot to unwind. But a funny thought keeps coming to me: Did I choose this life? I think so. And if I did, maybe, some (all?) of the complexity and stress and busy-ness is in the end, in my own head.
Ms. B is a good sport, and she agreed to help our group get going. Spots are still open. Let me know if you’d like to join us. And feel free to bring a friend.