Thursday, March 7, 2013
Do you see the half burned picture hanging over the stove? In its full glory, it said - "Simplify". And with the burning of that sign in my kitchen, apparently so living simply went up in flames with it. Oh...who am I kidding. It's never been a specialty of mine. Maybe the kitchen fire was really an effort to keep me from hypocrisy.
What does it mean to live Simply? I've been trying to find a good blog or stories or SOMETHING that will show real life stories of people living my dream - simplicity (and an added bonus would be a LARGE family living simply IN the suburbs....I like to have my cake and eat it too). Rather than actually finding a blog I can relate to though- I find stories ranging anywhere from extreme minimalism, to the coupon clipping-make everything from scratch-grow your own garden-homeschool your 15 kids-live in the country with no life to the outside world. Nothing is wrong with either of these forms of "simplicity" (or whatever they are). But if I were to follow in either one of them in an attempt to conquer simplicity, I would have to turn into some phantom creature that I am not. I don't "practice" minimalism by definition. However, I don't believe we live in terrible excess either, and the things we do hold on to, I'm not convinced I'm going to hell for keeping. I've tried clipping coupons. Grocery shopping while following my lists of which stores to go to to get the best deal for the week, and needing to flip through my scrapbook of coupons just to find my $.55 cent coupon for 45 bottles of ketchup sorta makes me want to gouge my eyes out. I've tried making things from scratch....and well...see above photo. I've grown a garden the last couple of years, but as of last year, my garden became a breeding ground for weeds and a litter box for my two dogs. YUM! I gave homeschooling a shot for a solid 7 months (give or take those few weeks I decided to not do anything). You know when your child is failing kindergarten and you are the teacher that you are seriously lacking in proper credentials....or at least I was. I live in the suburbs, because to live in the country in Boulder CO, I would have to murder Aaron for the insurance money. Oh wait... his policy isn't that much. I think I'll keep him around. And as for having no life to the outside world...well, I LIKE the outside world. I like to leave my house. I like to people watch. I like to interact with people not me. I get tired of me.
So then what? Have I blown all my opportunities to a life of simplicity? I think as a culture, we love the idea of living simply. Heck...there's an entire magazine dedicated to it. Although, if you've ever actually tried any of their suggestions, even THEY aren't all that simple.
What do you picture when you think of the word "simplicity"?? Is it a houseful of happy, clean children who are well fed, kind to each other, QUIET, sitting around by the fire petting the calm dog playing scrabble with one another while Mom is taking cookies (from scratch) out of the oven and Dad is sitting in the armchair smoking a pipe reading the daily news?? Sounds very....50's. I wasn't alive in the 50's, but I have come to the conclusion that those pictures were lying.
Or maybe you think of a home filled with no toys, white or grey walls, clean kitchen counters, IKEA vomit in every room, pictures on the wall that don't have any meaning to you as a person - but just ooze simplicity?
I don't know what I think of. Obviously from this post, you can see that I've been grasping at straws for a while now....and coming up short. If it's been offered as a way to live simply, I've probably tried it.
Enter reality. I don't know about you, but we have a handful of kids and a couple of dogs. We live in the suburbs. We live in a house that while it has a lot of room, feels far from simple. (Sidenote: We are trying to sell our home AGAIN. I recently had someone say to me - "Don't you think that any house would feel chaotic with five kids and two dogs?" Probably. But darn it - I'm gonna hope I can find that magic SIMPLE bullet just the same!) We have loud children who sin. We are parents who sin. We are messy. We live on a budget that is pretty on paper, but hard in real life. We try to battle the soccer mom mentality of having our kids involved in 48 different sports all at the same time (not only because it is costly, but because hauling my kids to all those activities they won't actually stick with sounds like the complete opposite of simplicity to me). We are middle class.
Where in the world is simplicity though? Somewhere in between the reality of loud, fighting, thankless, naughty children to longing to give our children a good life - full of love, honesty, truth, joy, peace, fun, laughter, and yes...the occasional sport. Somewhere in between life in a large mansion with no one to fill it's rooms or a tiny house incapable of inviting others in because it is already bursting at the seems, to living in a home that is inviting to others and peaceful to us. Somewhere in between racking up credit cards in order to live the American nightmare that promises happiness, to living within our means and being joyful about it (EVEN when living in our means looks VERY different than the American dream). Somewhere in between striving to try be simple, or look simple, or throw simplicity out the window and clinging to chaos, to resting in who we are as individuals knowing that what works for someone else may not work for us....SOMEWHERE in there simplicity is sitting quietly waiting to be found. I just know it. And it's not wrapped up in a pretty little picture that will work for all of us. But it's there. It's not just ONE aspect of life - minimalism, coupon clipping, homeschooling, one car, clean counters and closets....it's GOT to be a combination of every aspect of our life...I just know it. One day I will hang that sign in my home again and NOT set it on fire. I just know it.