It is the journey that enriches us

19 November 2013
This is the view from my work room window, taken yesterday morning.

I've had three emails in the past week from people who are a little confused about simple life. One said they're not doing everything Hanno and I are and asked if that's okay. The second said they've just started and were asking how long it will take them to set themselves up in this lifestyle. The third thought they had to be living on acreage and making bread every day, or off the grid and slaughtering chickens or at least living in the same way that Hanno and I live to be genuine and truly living this life. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. I wrote back to all of them, reassuring them that their own choices were the right ones. Then I decided to write about it because I might have said something recently that gave them the wrong message.

As soon as you take that first step towards a simpler life, you're living it. Some of us will be doing more or less than you but there is no grade to pass, no percentage to aim for, no right location, no formula. When you make a conscious decision to spend less and then move towards simplifying your life, that's it, you're doing it.

One of the many wonderful things about living this way is that there is no single goal that everyone is aiming for. We all decide for ourselves what our goals are. And there is no prize. No ending. We are all after different outcomes depending on our stage of life. When we reach one goal, there are others to pursue. The real prize is the unusual and beautiful journey we take to live this way. It is for all of us to create the life we want for our selves and our families and that life is different for all of us, as it should be. Don't let anyone tell you that you're not living simply or sustainably if you're not doing this or that. That is just not true. I think that if you've made the change to live a more simple life, if you're slowing down, more mindful, becoming less of a consumer and you continue along that path, adding as you go, then you're in the club. You're in the process of simplifying and it is a process that lasts a life time.

There is no prescription for this and no set of rules. We all decide for ourselves what our lives will be and then work to make that life happen. Some days you will be able to do a lot, somedays you won't, that's okay. Remember, some of us will be balancing paid work with house work, some will be raising babies and homeschooling, some of us are retired and on a lower income, therefore trying to trim our needs to suit our budgets. We have men at home looking after babies while their partner works and brings in the money, people who are looking after loved ones who are ill or frail, we have young couples just starting out and divorcing couples who are going their separate ways. This is an unusual life choice, we are not doing what our friends and neighbours are doing, we're going against the tide of popular opinion. No matter where you fit in, live your life your way and if you're moving away from your old consumerist habits and living on less than you earn, then that is the marker. How we do that is different for all of us and there is no right or wrong way.

If you're trying to move away from the materialist trap modern life has become, if you're trying to live according to your values, if you want to step lightly on your part of the planet and you know that you can do all that by being frugal and living simply, then I applaud you and I encourage you to keep moving in that direction. Because that is what I'm trying to do too. Some days it's easy, some aren't but I always remember the place I started from and I don't want to go back there. This is much better, but it's not a neat package, it's a long flowing ribbon.