29 July 2007

Location, location, location

This is our home.

I cannot stress enough that simple living is not about a particular geographical location, it is not something that happens only in the countryside, it is not confined to a certain city, nor to the suburbs. Simple living is more about a change in your attitude to your life and how you apply that change to the way you live. You could be living on the top of Mount Kosciusko, in a high rise apartment in Melbourne, in the suburbs of London or in the wild open spaces of Alaska; it is possible anywhere.

Natalie, in her Isabella in the 21st Century blog, wrote yesterday: "I used to think that to live a simple life I must up-sticks and head for a rural idyll; perhaps Dorset or Mid-Wales; there I would learn all about goats and pullets and clothe my children in hand spun woolly jumpers dyed with woad. I would also keep bees and make my own candles and balms out of their wax and mead out of the honey ... I've come to understand that simple living is not just for country folk, and it's definitely not just for the rich." Natalie knows.

The vision of packing up and leaving the city to live a simple life in the country is a common one, but it is not all that realistic. It’s often a romantic, idealised dream to live a life uncomplicated by traffic, pollution, crowds, violence and uncertainty. Sometimes people move to a location that looks perfect but when they get there, they can't find a job, the schools are too far away and the idyllic simple life they dreamed of is still out of reach. Their life is still complicated and difficult, but by different things.

This is part of our front garden.

One of my favourite aspects of simple living is that you make do with what you have. It's a really old fashioned thing, and the opposite of what's currently in favour - instant gratification and having what you want at any price. Simple living is not about buying a lifestyle, it's about making one. Instead of buying your simple life premade, you fashion it yourself from scratch. And just like a meal when you make it from basic ingredients, what you end up with is something that is suited exactly to you, it's not someone else's idea of what you should want. So if you're living in a flat in the city, or a small home in the suburbs, or even a larger place that you're not happy in, you can make it better by changing your attitude and by making the best of what you have.

Location is just a small part of a simple life. Along with location there is building a strong family; raising healthy, happy and decent children; reducing debt; not spending; reskilling yourself for the life you want to live by learning to bake, preserve, cook, mend, sew, knit and garden; building your community; getting to know your neighbours; slowing down and living with a peaceful mindset; cultivating generosity and kindness; decluttering unwanted and unnecessary possessions; being aware of your environmental responsibilities; reducing your use of water, power, petrol and gas; reusing, reducing and recycling; being grateful for what you have and making do. Maybe you can start on the many other aspects of a simple life and location might sort itself out while you concentrate on other things.

This is where I've done a lot of my thinking about the way I live and it's where we sit to enjoy our morning tea.

Make the best out of what you have right now - and that is if you're currently living your dream or if you are still far from it. That is simple living just as much as growing vegies, collecting eggs and making soap in the middle of an old growth forest. I can’t tell you what will give you a life of happiness, enjoyment and satisfaction, that is for you to decide. What I hope to do however, is to give you the courage to start moving towards simplicity, and to tell you as clearly as I can, that you can start living your simple life today.
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