Friday, June 20, 2014
Design Your Life
Several of you commented recently about wanting to hear more about how I simplified my life. So that's where I'm going in this post, with additional posts to follow in the coming weeks.
Interestingly, a couple years ago I thought about writing something -- a book, an essay -- called The Pauper's Guide to Living The Good Life. I never did that because I couldn't imagine dealing with any aspect of the publishing world, even self-publishing, which would entail marketing that I have absolutely no desire to have to do. All of that mumbo jumbo would go against the grain of my anarchic, seditious self.
And that's a good place to begin ~~ In order to simplify your life, you have to be up for rebelling against the system in any and every way possible, however you can make it work for you. Probably THE most subversive thing one can do these days is to get out of debt completely. Don't owe anybody anything (beyond your normal monthly living costs).
Granted, this is easy for me to say, because I never owned property (not since the early 1970s anyway, and that's so long ago it doesn't count) so I never had a mortgage/lending institution to deal with. When I radically downsized several years ago, moving from a 1700 square foot house in Eureka to my 294 square foot cottage in Fortuna, I sold or gave away almost everything. I used that money to pay off all my credit card debt and my car loan. I don't even have a credit card anymore and haven't for four years. I use cash or my debit card for everything now. If I don't have the money for something, I won't buy it until I do. And I've honestly never been happier.
That delayed gratification thing, which has never been a problem for me, has a huge benefit, because wants pass. If you can't buy it now, if you have to wait for it, you'll very likely find that you don't actually want it anyway once you really think about it. Buying a lot of stuff is a major addiction. And the best way to break that addiction is to not spend money you don't have on stuff you don't need.
The best way to not want stuff is to severely limit your exposure to mass media. Kill your TV, don't read any newspapers, don't read mass media magazines (and that's 95% of what's on the newsstand especially at supermarkets), get yourself off catalog mailing lists. The entire consumer system is designed to make you want stuff you don't need. It's designed to get you hooked and it doesn't want to let you go. The only way to fight the system is to refuse to play in the first place. And this goes for consumer electronics as well. Some of you may rail against this, but get rid of your smartphones. The only people truly benefiting from the entire genre of i-Everything are the corporations who are raping the earth for the resources to make that stuff while impoverishing most of the rest of the world's population and keeping us in slavery ("I owe, I owe, so off to work I go").
Personally, I don't have a cellphone -- I have a landline and DSL. I have a laptop. I don't have a TV, I don't listen to radio, I don't go to the movies, I don't subscribe to magazines (except Tricycle, a Buddhist quarterly). I watch the few TV programs I like online, without ads, and for free, I might add. I only just added Netflix, at $8 per month, so I can see foreign films unavailable at the library or the local video shop, and Netflix is far less expensive anyway than renting locally. I don't buy books (except art books), I borrow from the library.
You might think I'm isolated or out of the loop. It's simply not true. I judiciously pick and choose what I'll let into my life. If you want to simplify your life, you've got to do this. You've got to make conscious choices about how you want your life to be. Which means creating a life that reflects your true values. What is it that you value, really? Is it being "up-to-the-minute" with new technology and more stuff and more information available all the time than one human can possibly process in a lifetime? Or is it privacy, silence, thoughtfulness, mindfulness, peace of mind? It's your choice.