Katrina and I sat in front of the roaring fire while snowflakes flew around. We pondered the appeal of simplicity for a moment. While there isn’t anything of a material nature that we need or that is withheld from our attainment, why simplicity?
Why is simplicity so alluring?
As the fire crackled, an old memory floated onto the screen of my consciousness. It was a memory of the early 1960s when I stepped off a Greyhound bus in a nor’easter blizzard hitting coastal New England. I wrote in detail about it in another newsletter.
I described an old Victorian structure that offered an unfurnished and unheated loft for rent. The little kitchen area had a large number of little single-paned windows that overlooked the rooftops of the brightly painted colonial-style homes. I could look down at the fishing boats in the harbor of this idyllic island of potato farms, fishing villages, and 400 mansions of the super-rich. Funny—at the time I thought I’d never meet anyone wealthy enough to live in a place like that, let alone rub shoulders with billionaires someday. I think this lends power to what I’m about to tell you.
Consider my circumstances back then: I had almost no money or job. I had no car and no expenses. I had somehow secured a mattress to sleep on, which was a bear to carry up three flights of stairs to the loft. I had gotten a few dishes, utensils, and a kerosene heater. I still remember those invigorating walks to get my fuel can filled up. Once back in my loft, I found the glow of the stove made the atmosphere cozy. Chilly, yes, but something very serene permeated the room, and it wasn’t the warmth. I didn’t worry much about fumes, since the windows rattled as the wind blew. Oh, yes, the loft was well ventilated indeed.
It seemed I was always happy, as I sat there letting my mind drift, looking off at the sea. Fixing my simple meals was never a burden, but a joy. I would then wash my single plate and spoon or fork, dry them, and put them away. Nothing was ever out of place. Even the mop and broom I had acquired were superfluous. Nonetheless, they were well used, more as a discipline than to address an actual need.
I walked wherever I needed to go. I never had to be in a hurry. I could hike along the cliffs overlooking crashing waves for as long as I liked or explore the interesting shops of town. I soon secured several part-time jobs for pocket change and to pay my meager living expenses. Now, none of this would lead you to believe that hidden within this experience was the seed of a delicious contentment, would it?
Under such conditions, one tends to develop their own resourcefulness and creativity. My experience was a peaceful, comprehending acceptance of all I found before me. This sense of disengagement allowed me to experience the flow of life with a greater intimacy then I thought possible. To disengage from societal norms was an act of supreme engagement with life that resulted in a taste of serenity difficult to describe. Had I found a diamond in the rough that only needed time to be polished?
As I shared my musing with Katrina, we both agreed, less is more.
In no way am I being critical of friends and others who wear Gucci or Louis Vuitton shoes or have Rolexes on their wrists or drive Bentleys. I have many wealthy friends, but who is so rich that they don’t need to rent unwanted thoughts a space in their head? As I look around me, even what I do have at times appears too much. How often do we become servants to the things that serve us? It’s an interesting thought to consider.
My musing has taken me full circle. As I gaze into the fire, watching my wife snuggling with the cats sleeping piled on top of her, the words of an old poem resound: “Oh! for a book and a cozy nook, and oh! for a quiet hour, when the care and strife and the worry of life have lost their dreaded power.”
Perhaps it was only when I knew I could have it all that I fully realized less is more!
Reflections from Turtle Lake,
p.s. If you’re interested in learning more about the aquaponics unit that Katrina and I are using, please visit www.D1Aquaponics.com. We are getting such amazing feedback from people that have already purchased one and are using it to grow organic veggies right in their own home. Check it out!