For many years I have been on a quest to live simply, and for the most part I have been when compared to mainstream American mindset, but it has always felt a bit forced, as if a mission, something I HAD to do, something a bit against the grain of my inner most self. Turning each and every aspect of living simple as doing the "cool" thing. It was never painful, but still forced. After all, I certainly did not grow up with the concept of simple living. I knew though, that simple living, which in my mind, involves not being tied down to materialism and the rat race to achieve what is commonly referred to as "success" for these modern times. In the past 40 years I have been on this search for a deeper meaning to live than the accumulation of things and using society as a measuring stick for my happiness level. If you were to look at my computer search history you would find terms like, "the happiest people" over and over. The books on my shelf most read, Thoreau, Thich Nhat Hanh, The Dalai Lama, The Rebbe, and the Bible....how do we access what is deep within us that gives us a sense of peace, an understanding of compassion and the freedom to "not need"? Where is the wisdom on the secret to being fulfilled apart from the "stuff" and be complete in the very moment we are ?
For me, the quest for simplicity is tied up 100% with a spiritual connection. Its God driven for me, every aspect of my life is actually. There are never more than a few minutes in my day, where the search for a way to live a deep spiritual life is not on my mind. I am always asking, begging God to show me what life is all about, what matters, and what pleases Him the most. I look in many places for the answers. I discover His profound love for us, in each grain of bird seed I pour in the feeders, in the way the clouds fly across the sky, the way a child's hug feels around my neck and in the way a blueberry tastes on my lips and on and on. But yet, the full concept of living in the moment, without fear of what tomorrow might bring, living in total simplicity, without having to force it had not arrived in its fullness...until....I had been expecting a "light bulb" moment, a "Eureka" experience. Now, please don't get me wrong, I do not live my life in fear, but I do experience some worry on occasion and there are a multitude of conversations about the wrath of God that come back to mind from time to time. I have no desire to "keep up with the Joneses" but I am normal and see things all the time that I wish I had, just check out my pinterest page to see that. But, yesterday there was a shift in my thinking, obvious in some ways and subtle in another aspect, subtle in that it has been creeping up on me unawares, obvious, in the manifestation. I have been reading with great delight, Thich Nhat Hanh and have felt I have learned more from him than any other writer in my 40 years of searching. His words so simple, so enlightening that I have considered calling myself a Buddhist that believes in God. His words have shown me the mechanics of discovering a peace within me that has allowed me to finally live simply without forcing it. First I was able to get rid of all my old furniture, all the clutter etc and replace it with by comparison, stark simplicity. That was a bit forced believe me, but it happened and I was so happy with the results and still am. It did simplify my life. No more frills. Next, came the clothing, I gave in to comfort and practicality. Putting away any notion of being "chic", too much work, too much money and not the real me in any sense of the word. I bagged up all the extra clothes, leaving me with 3 pair of pants and half a dozen of my most worn shirts. A couple skirts and two dresses. Sweaters and jackets for cold weather. No fear of not looking successful in life, no worry about fashion statements. Yesterday, came the realization that this quest of mine for simplicity has come to a point of being deeply honest. I went shopping, my normal weekly event where I go to my favorite stores, looking around, spending what I want, buying what I want. Yesterday I passed by store number one, went to store number two, went right to the isle where the yarn I needed was, (socks for my daughter) paid for them and left. No wandering around, no sales tempting me. No desire to buy more than was an actual need. It was how the entire shopping trip went. For the first time, I felt no need to go beyond what was actually a need. Same in the food store. Shopped for needs only, perimeter shopping. Done in no time and spent less than normal. The book Savor has enriched my thinking about food in a big way, I highly recommend it. The quest for simple living, all 40 years of it, is now more of me than ever, it dwells in my heart. The peace I feel is greater than I could have ever imagined. The freedom, unspeakable. The realization that the journey has all been worthwhile and the journey is far from over, but it is good to see progress, feel it and taste it. Seeking, changing and understanding, all goals.