January 20, 2017

Beauty Abounds

I think every carrot from the garden is a gift of beauty from the Earth. Every carrot, large, small and differently shaped.

There is a lot of pain in the world right now. It is real, and it is not necessarily your fault. Brace yourself, after today there is likely to be a lot more.

Joe Brewer thinks that what you are feeling is a symptom of capitalism dying.

It is that, and more. It is just about everything we know that is dying. Systems that we have relied on for decades are ceasing to deliver the goods. Diminishing returns are everywhere. No one seems to know what to do, although times like these do spawn slick sales people that appear to have all the answers.

The death knell of change even tolls for The Circus, which is closing after 146 years. The billionaire owner said something to the tune of "more has change in the last 10 years than the last 40". A lot of that change has been ugly, and not just for the circus.

In spite of this, beauty remains.

Yes, there is a lot of ugliness out there. But there is always more beauty. Ugliness and pain have limits. Beauty is infinite.

But only if we have the time and calm state of mind necessary to perceive it.

Now, more than ever before, it is important to find the beauty in every moment. Because there is always something beautiful regardless of where you are at. Open yourself to it, and it will appear. Enjoy it. Revel in it. Share it around.

As the rate of change continues to accelerate, and as yucky stuff rises to the surface, we need something to get us through. That something is the beauty that exists in every moment. It is a salve for the mind.

Then, refreshed and reassured, we can do what needs to be done.

January 17, 2017

Stuff: Potential Obstacle In Any Home

Henry David Thoreau's cabin had few obstacles to living "deliberately" while confronting
"only the essential facts of life".

A home is a very personal thing. Each of us sets up our homes differently to reflect where we are in life at the time. But the important things are usually fine tweaks to a well established set of things that culture deems to be necessary to attaining the good life. But are those possessions freeing us, or are they obstacles to addressing more important considerations, the "essential facts of life"?

In consumer cultures the list of home essentials has been growing for decades. Unsurprisingly, houses have been bloating at the same time, just to contain all the stuff. During that period, my own list of what I consider to be essential at home has been shrinking as my desire for simplicity and freedom from the stifling weight of stuff has been growing.

Henry David Thoreau considered the ownership of material possessions beyond the basic necessities of life to be an obstacle. That has certainly been my experience. The best bits of my life so far are the ones where I have been living in stark simplicity.

Things like camping, extended backpacking trips, living out of a van for extended periods, and staying in a spartan monks room as a student all made me wonder about all the other stuff that we are told are necessary for the "good life". If I can survive happily with very little, what is the rest for?

I had to wonder if my possessions were a life enhancer, or obstacles. I decided most of it fell into the "Obstacle" category, and have been busy identifying and removing them from my life ever since. Add in reducing my ecological impact in a time of increasing scarcity, and there was no going back. I couldn't see the down side.

Still, no one can tell anyone else what they need to live the life they want. And Thoreau is not the only one inviting us to "simplify, simplify, simplify". In response to my last post here, readers offered up their take on the simple home, and the simple life.

I couldn't of said it any better myself. Go to the post to read even more good ideas.

"Enough is a roof over our head, love, nourishing food, clean water, simple attire for modesty and something to stimulate, like a conversation, art, craft, book etc...everything else is the custard on our cherry tart."

"I think a simple home is one that feels perfect to you. A place to lay your head safely, be warm and comfortable and have those you love around you, equally in comfort. A place where the things you have in your home are things you own and that don't own you. Items that are either useful or beautiful (or both!)."

“I’ve recently been house sitting for a friend & only took the bare minimum with me. I completely agree, I barely missed anything & actually felt freer and lighter without all my possessions.

When thinking about setting up a new house, it is also helpful to look at all the amazing stuff on Craigslist/gumtree(Australia)/thrift shops/giveaways. There are more than enough things already out there in the world, so even for things you decide you really 'need', it is almost never essential to buy them new - support businesses & practices you don't agree with.”

"I tend to be much more functional and less aesthetic in my home. Simple, easy to clean and maintain. I lean toward higher quality and good maintenance so things around me don't wear out, get sent to the landfill and have to be replaced. I also want stuff that I can move around from one room to another. I like open floor plans."

The take away? Warning! Stuff is a potential (and likely) obstacle in any home. Proceed with caution, and simplicity. Thanks for the excellent feedback everyone. It's not too late to join the conversation. Add your thoughts here.

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