“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.”
– Henry David Thoreau
I’ve got no excuse. I was in my 20s when I first read Walden, and it was an instant hit with me. And yet…have I led a simplified life? Uh…no. Hardly. Do I feel as though my life is frittered away by detail? You bet. When am I going to do something about it? Tomorrow.
Wait. I’m 50. My tomorrows are getting fewer. I think I’d better start doing something today.
“Living simply” has become au courant, and I’m glad of it. The kids are looking at tiny houses (which admittedly have a certain fetish aspect; I might comment on that later), they’re turning their noses at “stuff,” and they’re choosing to bike instead of drive. If they can start simple and stay simple, they are well on their way. It’s one of those things that gives me hope for the generation that is about to take over the wheel. Or the handlebars.
But what of those of us who have travelled far, far from that ideal? We’re awash in “stuff,” and our days are a deluge of detail? Where do we even start? That will be the focus of this section.
In some ways, this section could fall under “earning,” since a simple life is in fact a frugal life, and it is through frugality that we may earn our freedom. I believe the goal of simplifying should stand on its own, however, because of the multitude of its ramifications. Simplicity in our lives affects more than our budget. As Thoreau suggests, it affects our sanity. And as the kids will tell you, it affects our environment. So let’s get to it.