March 19, 2014

Bohemianism and Simplicity

Enjoying bohemian simplicity - making time to relax and enjoy each other, and joyful creativity.
When I say that those of you visiting this blog are different, I mean it as the ultimate compliment. You see, I am not a big fan of the normal, the average, or the conventional. And like me, I believe that a large number of NBA readers live, or would like to live, a simple lifestyle that reflects the values of Bohemianism.

Bohemianism is "the practice of an unconventional lifestyle in order to pursue creativity through musical, artistic, or literary pursuits". It can also be defined as "a person with artistic or intellectual tendencies, who lives and acts with no regard for conventional rules of behaviour."

While not necessarily involving voluntary poverty, (some of the early adherents in the 1800s were wealthy), most Bohemians, historically and today, embrace a more free, less materialistic way of life.

There is also the style of bohemianism that embraces the vagabond life - that of a gypsy, or a wanderer. This unaligned group includes all the leather tramps, rubber tramps, railway tramps, and all other folks for whom the freedom to move and be authentic is the ultimate creative passion.

Bohemian adherents love the low, discarding highbrow sensibilities as unnecessary and expensive distractions, or even as life-endangering, energy-sucking pastimes to be avoided. For alternative living folks, stripping life to the basics creates the time and space to discover the innate desire to create whatever their heart desires.

Bohemians embrace the values of simplicity and frugality and know that "civility equals hypocrisy, wealth invariably corrupts and enervates, but poverty breeds energy".

And as William Blake enthusiastically pointed out, "Energy is pure delight".

Bohemians tap into the energy of life, and maximize on the simple things that really matter. I think that probably describes most of the people that visit here, and that means I am in good company.

We are all different here, thank goodness, which helps save us from the silk restraints in the guilded cage of progress and modernity.


  1. Anonymous3/19/2014


    I enjoy your blog, however what is your definition of poverty? Voluntary 'poverty' is not really poverty, but a choice of life style. True, abject poverty does not breed energy, it is spirit breaking, disheartening and desperate. Living an intentionally simple life without a focus on material possessions is one thing, poverty is another. A lot of social service workers and agencies (globally and locally) work very hard to reduce the burden of poverty and aid those without adequate resources.

    I agree, creativity is an important resource - having grown up in working class family, in a harsh, cold climate, in a small town with employment, but without a library (or other source of books), swimming pool or much else, imagination was a very important aspect. I'm grateful that my childhood was primarily spent outdoors, creating our own games and amusement, but there was nothing romantic about it. In retrospect and reality, it was limiting and restrictive.

    There are not many Bohemian vagabonds on the Canadian Prairies, and those that rode the rails were economically disenfrachised, living dangerous lives, trespassing/exploiting the labours of others, and likely cold, hungry, dirty and tired.


    1. Jake,

      Indeed, let's not glorify or romanticize the crushing poverty that humans inflict upon each other.

      However, from my own life I know that the occasional experience of being cold, hungry, dirty and tired has its benefits.

    2. Anonymous3/20/2014

      suffering is mankind's GDP, no other creature makes life hell for its own species. It is because of this that I don't expect to have a long life.

    3. Anon,

      Suffering has always been, and will always be. The best we can do is learn to live successfully in such an environment, while trying to mitigate the effects of our species shortcomings.

      There are proven ways to reduce suffering as well, for the time that humanity has remaining.

  2. Just yesterday I was browsing through Walden.
    This quote seems pertinent; "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away" (Henry David Thoreau).

    1. Gam Kau,

      A very fitting quote for those with a less developed herding instinct. Like HDT.


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