On Simple Living

The title implies that I live simply, and in a way I do, but not in the same way as the gentlemen that follow.

Thoreau ~ Sign at Walden Pond
Thoreau ~ Sign at Walden Pond

So let’s start with the simple (no pun intended) question; ‘what exactly is simple living?’

Wikipedia gives us a good idea…

Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one’s lifestyle. These may include reducing one’s possessions or increasing self-sufficiency, for example. Simple living may be characterized by individuals being satisfied with what they need rather than want. Although asceticism generally promotes living simply and refraining from luxury and indulgence, not all proponents of simple living are ascetics.Simple living is distinct from those living in forced poverty, as it is a voluntary lifestyle choice. ~ Wikipedia

So, although Wikipedia clarifies that those that partake in simple living ‘may be characterized by individuals being satisfied with what they need rather than what they want’ I think I want something a little meatier:

I believe the key reason for so many problems in the world today is the fact we no longer have to see directly the repercussions of our actions. The degrees of separation between the consumer and the consumed have increased so much that people are completely unaware of the levels of destruction and suffering involved in the production of the food and other “stuff” we buy. The tool that has enabled this disconnection is money. ~ Mark Boyle (Guardian, 2009)

Interesting… money is an issue I do think about on occasion, but I never used to get much further than it being a necessarily evil. My conclusion was as encompassing as it appears in print; that it was a necessary evil of the world, whereas others might have defined it as a necessary evil of ‘the Western World’ or of ‘industrialised nations’, I now know that my definition of it as ‘worldly’ was embarrassingly naive… I knew that I wanted the way in which we use/exchange money to change, hence my support for Occupy (amongst others) but I knew that at some point I’d have to look further than my general dissatisfaction. At the time I wasn’t in the position to ask any questions – I simply didn’t feel like I knew enough – so instead I spent my time supported those that were ready.

I’m still not ready yet, but I feel like I’m edging ever closer. I now have access to the literature I need to make a decision, all I need to do now is read it…

I’m halfway through Thoreau’s, Walden. And have yet to read a book I was kindly given in Norwich titled, Banking: The Root Cause of the Injustices of Our Time by Abdassamad Clarke (the story of which was quite funny – I met with Clarke and some others and they told me about the book, I said I’d like a copy and fumbled about in my pocket for change. I hadn’t enough, I was a pound or so short, to which they responded something like, ‘please, keep your money – it wont be worth what it is for much longer.’) Here’s the synopsis:

The original 1987 Norwich seminar ‘Usury The Root Cause of the Injustices of Our Time’, whose proceedings form the core of this work had an extraordinary effect. After the endless analyses and altercations of left and right to which we were accustomed, here was an argument that went to the core of the matter in one bound, and yet did so with a degree of scholarship and indeed erudition that was not cavalier. The result was electric. It was also well before its time. This book contains the texts of the original lectures as well as some contemporary material that updates it. The 80 s material was remarkably prescient as the reader will discover. However history has furnished us another opportunity the catastrophic bank collapses of 2008 and the impending total systems shutdown of 2009 to revisit this vital material and place it before the reader. Whatever the result of the signal events of 2008/9 a slide into depression, cataclysmic upheaval or a rebound into dynamic activity the argument in this work still stands: Usury is demonstrably the motor of the injustices of our age. That is the bad news, whose necessary corollary, a delineation of the way out of our global predicament, this book explores. ~ via Amazon

Anyway, Mark Boyle meet Daniel Suelo. I’m sure you have a lot in common…

Also, though Boyle and Daniel choose to live without money this is not true of all of those that choose to live simply. Take Richard, for example:

I will endeavour to read up on this phenomena…

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