What simple living is really like

My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can.
~Cary Grant

From the way it’s sold to people, I’m sure many think that simple living means living in a perfectly white Portland apartment with just a futon and a yoga mat, eating raw veggies and crafting e-books on a Mac while pondering whether or not to take a bicycle trip to the organic farm to work a few hours for the sheer hell of it.

On the contrary, I live in a beige-walled apartment that looks like it hasn’t seen a renovation since it was built in the 70s, in Texas, with a roommate and two cats that either shed on or claw up everything I own. I have a queen-sized bed (most people owned by cats can explain this) and more than 100 things. I don’t own a Kindle or a smart phone; I had an old, stinky Mac but it’s dead and will be replaced by a PC. While I own significantly less than other people, it will still take a U-haul truck to move me in one go, mostly because of the queen-sized bed and the futon in the living room, although my other assorted furniture takes up some space, too.

My apartment right now is actually fairly messy, considering how much I own. It’s never absolutely clean (no place occupied by two cats ever gets truly clean). I have a roommate who probably owns as many shoes as I do possessions, and she leaves a number of them by the door. The router and wifi hub live in a USPS Priority Mail box near the futon, and long cords stretch across the living room to the cable outlet and my computer.

I have a small collection of books, most of which I don’t part with. If I lose one somehow, I buy a replacement for it. Although not so many now, I still have animal skulls and assorted bones floating around, most of them somewhere in the bedroom. I have camping gear in the closet.

I don’t wake up every morning singing Zippideedodah. I typically stagger out of bed, swear a little bit, step on a cat, swear some more, and then finally settle into a couple pieces of toast and a store-brand Coke minus the HFCS. I drive across town to my full-time job. I like it, but if I had enough money to make ends meet without having to work, I wouldn’t be there.

I cook most of my own food, and it almost always contains meat and more than five ingredients and none of it is organic unless I’ve been by the farmer’s market. I eat out about twice a week. I occasionally go to McDonald’s. I love soda and sweets. My lunches for work go in plastic containers and I even microwave them.

I spend most of my free time on the computer, playing games or bumming around the internet. I go for frequent walks, always with the iPod I bought on Craigslist for $20 (some things about simple living enthusiasts are true). I try to spend time with friends, but I also like being alone.

I have two parents, two siblings, a niece, and an uncountable number of relatives. I see them about once every couple of months. It was a surprise for me when I discovered that my two-year-old niece does, in fact, recognize me when I show up. Of course, she probably doesn’t know too many other females with buzz haircuts and red-tinted glasses.

I do line (or rather porch) dry my clothing. I do buy very little and cook the majority of my own food from scratch. I own very little, and most of what I do own I know to be useful or believe to be beautiful (or it just makes me smile.) I would rather have a face-to-face conversation than one over IM, email, or the phone.

My point is…I’m human and I’m just like everyone else. Simple living doesn’t necessarily sleeping on a floor mat, biking to work, or buying a Mac. It’s simplifying the way you live, even if it just means realizing what’s most important to you in life. If that’s yoga and organic food and spending every spare moment with your family, cool. But you don’t have to give up who you are or what you like to live simply.

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One Response to “What simple living is really like”

  1. Haha! I like this. We have this idea that minimalists or people who advocate for simple living are the immaculate kind who live perfectly simple lives free of distractions and negativity. The first person that comes to mind is Gwyneth Paltrow and to me, people who are like that are just smug. I’d rather be a regular human being, thanks

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