Simple living in the 21st century is not so simple. Most of us have crammed our lives so full of stuff and events, that digging out from underneath it all can be a challenge. Even if we aren’t the gather-and-hoard type, it still takes concerted effort to maintain that simplicity. I consider simple living a spiritual discipline and I’m always learning.
It’s difficult to change anything in our lives, especially our lifestyle. It takes discipline, planning, and perseverance. It is not for the faint-hearted. It is definitely a journey well worth taking.
While simple living can encompass all areas of our lives, I’m just going to share one area that is proving insightful. We are a one car family. Well, there are only two of us, but living in suburban California does make it interesting.
We unloaded my old car before we moved to Texas in 2008. In fact, we unloaded just about everything. We had very little worth paying money to move. We crated up business files we had to keep, Sam’s motorcycle, one piece of furniture, and our kitchenware.
We thought we’d probably get another vehicle in Texas, but found we really didn’t need one. We lived in a small town and worked from home. We planned to reconsider our transportation options if we built a house on our property ten miles outside of town, but then we moved back to California. After my brother’s unexpected death, it was evident we needed to be closer to my family.
Now we live in a suburb of Sacramento, have one car, and Sam recently took on contract job that requires him to be at the start-up. Thankfully, we live within walking distance of the library, pharmacy, and other shopping. It is right at the mileage limit for my bionic ankle and knees, but I can do it. I have a rolling backpack, but definitely need to upgrade to a cart (And, no, I’m not thinking granny cart or homeless cart).
I could to these tasks in the evenings or weekends like everyone else, but that is most unappealing to me. I already hate to shop and I definitely do not want to be shopping with the masses. I’d rather figure out how to work it around my other responsibilities. That requires a shift in how I view the additional time spent to complete these errands.
I decided to focus on what I get to see or would otherwise miss if I was driving instead of walking. Here’s what I discovered yesterday on my 5-mile, 1.75-hour errand excursion:
My endorphins perked up being outdoors on a beautiful autumn day. Sunshine and fresh air are nectar for the soul and body. Plus, I got my vitamin D allotment naturally instead of by a pill.
A few other people were walking somewhere too. Smiling and saying “hi” as we passed made them feel more like neighbors than strangers. After all, we do share a human connection.
I stuck to my shopping list because I was going to be hauling it all home. I usually plan menus and my shopping list, but being mindful of not only what we were going to eat, but what we really needed goes a long way to sticking to a budget. Healthy and frugal: win-win.
Walking allows you to notice more details and actually see what’s around. Christmas decorations are already out! One shopping area already has their holiday banners up in their small parking lot. One wooden power pole has hundreds of nails in it from all the flyers that have been posted on it over the years. You can still find lost coins on the sidewalk! (Yes, I picked them up!)
It’s inspiring to see what people do for landscaping and planting. One house mixed in a little vegetable garden in the flower beds. Another had an interesting fence. There are still lots and lots of oleanders, California’s ubiquitous answer to low-maintenance shrubbery lining its highways. White and pink are the usual variety, but I did notice some red. I still don’t like them.
It’s sweet seeing adolescent couple holding hands as they walk home from school. This couple was two girls, chatting away as they swung there their hands together. It’s refreshing to think that they are that secure enough in themselves and there is enough public acceptance for them to be public with who they are.
I get to choose; many do not have that option. We’ve made the decision for simple living as part of our spiritual responsibility for good and wise stewardship of all God has given us. Others struggle to simply live. With the reduction in food stamps, minimum-wage jobs that do not pay a living wage, unemployment, and high housing costs there are many of our neighbors who do not have the choice to live simply. They are struggling to simply live.
Let’s not forget or lose sight that we live simply so others can simply live.