Learning to simplify my life has been a challenge for the last 6 months. We’re pretty normal people. Well, I think so anyway. Yet we still seem to accumulate ‘stuff’ despite our ‘anti-consumerism’ stance. Kids birthday gift’s, hand me downs, and Christmas are the main culprits. Whenever I got cranky or overwhelmed, I’d grab a big purple garbage bag and start decluttering. At which point the kids scamper to clean up their things before I got to them. So, I thought we we’re doing OK before we left home, but now… my perspective on what living simply means has changed. (Although somewhere along the road we we’re given a giant pink flamingo that seem’s to be staying.)
There’s a mindset to simplifying, I’m certainly not claiming to be there, but I can feel it creeping into my awareness. A gentle nudge of “here’s what matters” or just little moments of “ahhhhh.” There’s a settling feeling that is starting to edge into my soul of “this is right.” It’s hard to explain specifically, but all the time leading up to the trip, there were little green lights. Things that could have been incredibly difficult, like selling my car and renting our home, that ended up being surprisingly easy. Or perhaps, with my overtly optimistic nature, I’m just seeing serendipity where others see coincidence. But I guess, it’s a feeling of being in the right place at the right time, regardless of the place or time. LOL.
I’ve also been reading a lot. Not surprisingly, if you know me at all. I’ve just finished ZEN, The art of simple living, by Shunmyo Masuno. There is so much wisdom to the Zen way of living, and much of it can be applied in a modern home. Or caravan, as the case may be. So, allow me to share a few pearls of wisdom from the book and how we’ve started to apply them.
Busy is an interesting word, and something I’ve always steered away from. I consider it to be the opposite of living simply and certainly the enermy of balance. Funnily enough, Masuno explains that in Japanese characters, busy is written using the symbols ‘lose’ and ‘heart’. It makes sense that when we feel busy, we have no space in our heart for what matters most. Perhaps that’s been the biggest shift so far is that we simply are not busy. We now have time to explore rock pools, feed lorikeets, climb trees and ride down dirt roads, just to see where they lead. I don’t think it’s the activities that have changed, more the space between. It’s the nothing time that seems to be plentiful now, and from that grows deep connection, curiosity and time in nature.
Another piece of the Zen Masters’s wisdom in learning to live simply is to savour the mornings. Thankfully, I’ve always been a morning person, so this comes naturally to me. But now, being with the family literally 24/7, my morning routine really grounds me for the day. I’m up and out the door before 6am, and each morning is an opportunity to explore the natural environment and get some exercise in. I generally ride, walk, or stand up paddle and find a nice little secluded spot to do a work-out. It sounds a little esoteric, but the feeling of being totally alone and surrounded by nature seems to calm my soul and settle my mind. Plus, I get to find the best spots to drag the family back to once they are up and about for the day. LOL.
In reflection, two core elements of learning to simplify for me have been certainty, knowing that I’m on the right path, and contentment, being open to experiencing where that path leads, without being attached to where I end up. So, as our adventure unfolds, perhaps you can add a little simplicity to your life too.