Monday, February 1, 2010

Simple Reading

You know, I'm the sort of guy that not too terribly long ago never gave a second thought to buying pretty much anything I wanted. Mostly because I had money back then, that helped a lot. But also because I never really processed in my mind whether or not I should reconsider buying something just for the want of it. Being poor makes a guy think about stuff like that.

Hindsight and that sort of thing. I keep thinking if I had been even just the bittiest more frugal back then, I probably wouldn't be in such dire straits now and, honestly, could probably plan on getting by just fine for years to come; particularly given my borderline neurosis being so stingy now.

Anyway, for some wiser than myself, it doesn't necessarily take for a bad break to envisage the possibility of re-appraising how they might want to change up their lives for the better; dismissing much of what most of us offhandedly are convinced makes for being happy, mostly just things, has its up side.

Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich (Revised edition)This here book, Voluntary Simplicity, I have had it for a long time, not for sure how many years. I reckon I bought it because I thought doing that would make me seem more existentially aware or something; clearly I didn't buy it to read since I had forgotten I even had it.

But I am reading it now, and it is pretty awesome. Amazon sums it up quite succinctly in the first part of their review, that it is for "those wanting to liberate themselves from enslavement to a job and the pursuit of status symbols".

They also call it a sacred text for those kinds of people... that part of the review makes me feel kind of bad, knowing I had such a venerable primer stashed away in a box for so long.

But whatever, better late than never. I only got it out now because I am more attuned to keeping things as simple as possible (albeit my lifestyle shift did not start out so very "voluntary"), and wanted to read what this Duane Elgin had to say about it. There are lots of personal stories in the book, of those who have vastly improved their quality of living by scaling back, on purpose.

Of course, it follows that being more conservative in our own lives also goes toward conservation of the environment and its resources as well. This book keys in to that interconnection quite a bit, and although a lot of it is nothing one would find startling, no lightbulb moments or anything, having it all laid out and with personal accounts to relate with, it is for a fact affecting. Kind of like Thoreau's Walden, it makes you think different about things.

So that's my recommended reading. I kind of was forced in the beginning to be this way, but I like it and as I've said before, however rich I might get again some day, I don't expect much to change. I'll still be the nutjob handwashing his clothes (however many days in between), tossing them willy nilly somewhere to dry, cracking open a box of baking soda to brush the choppers, all that.

Not that this book goes into that plane of cheap, but still the abstract consideration of scaling back - frugal consumption, ecological awareness and personal growth - as hashed out in the book, makes me feel validated, more confident to tell off anyone who thinks me just plain odd to suck it.