Simple living blog series:
To start this mini-series on simple living, I would like to reflect on some personal paradigm shifts that I experienced during my time in Ecuador, and upon coming home.
PART 1: MATERIAL THINGS
Before leaving for Ecuador, I defined simple living as making do without a lot of the material luxuries I have been used to having in the U.S. First of all, I would be moving to another country, so it would be very impractical to take everything I owned with me for a year and a half. In my program, we were encouraged to bring just the necessities and maybe a few sentimental memories of home (photographs, books, etc).
From the start, I had what I considered to be very little material possessions. My living room was furnished with a rug and three simple chairs. I used a stone tablet built into the wall to wash clothes. My kitchen was supplied with a simple stove/oven unit, a refrigerator, and a few cabinets (no microwave or coffeemaker). But soon my concept of little was fractured when I saw the homes of some of my neighbors and friends. Many families I visited and became close with had few appliances and furniture in their homes, and were totally content with what they had.
Reality hit. I have many things that are nice, but not necessities. This became even clearer to me upon my return to the U.S. and my childhood home. I literally could not believe my eyes when I walked into my room and saw the amount of “junk” that had accumulated over the past 20 years. Granted, a lot of it was furniture or textbooks from college. Nevertheless, I needed to do some cleaning. Some thinking. And some de-stressing. That’s right. Seeing all this stuff had me seriously stressed out. I couldn’t help but think, what I am doing with all this clutter?
I still have not had time to get rid of a lot of it, but in my few days at home I realized that I want to change the way I think about “stuff”. When I am 60 years old, I don’t want to have a house full of junk and wonder why I bought half of it in the first place. Things will not bring me happiness. Plus, there are clearly so many better ways to use the resources (i.e. income) I have. Instead of that cute new wall decoration, couldn’t I be helping someone who doesn’t have clean water in their home? Decisions like these are daily ways in which we can impact the world.
Stay tuned for my next post on simplicity, Part 2: Use of resources!