Have you heard of Dan Price? He's the guy who wrote Radical Simplicity, a book which I just read and thoroughly enjoyed. He lives in a tiny home he carved out of the earth. I mean, it's literally carved right out of the ground and covered with grass and twigs and moss. He survives on very little and calls himself a hobo; his greatest joy comes from traveling around, sleeping in tents and meeting new people. For a while he wrote for Simple shoes, chronicling his adventures. Now you can read his ramblings at his own Web site. He was my first foray into the world of simplicity, and now I am hooked.
Although I don't think I'd be comfortable living out of a tent and eating dried fruit and jerky every day, I find the idea of simplifying extremely attractive. I see now that I've been steering my life in this direction for years.
For a while we've been making our own beans rather than buying canned, and taking time each Sunday to prepare large batches of food that serve as our home-cooked version of fast food throughout the week. Think chicken soup, chili, veggie casseroles and the like. It's great to take a jar of homemade soup out of the fridge, pour it in a bowl, and heat it up after a long day of work and class. The food tastes way better than something out of a can or box, it's made with care and attention by us, (not by a machine) and it's still easy and quick to prepare. We also shop at the Farmer's Market each week where the pace is slower and more relaxed. It's great to get fresh air while searching for the best tomatoes and strawberries. I'm all about slow food.
With our impending move, Lance and I are taking steps to downsize as well. We're giving up our TV and Xbox and we're sending bags of clothes and kitchen clutter to Goodwill. I'm clearing out the closets out and soon we'll have one of those epic listings on Craigslist that serves as a virtual garage sale. I can't wait. I love getting rid of stuff. It opens up so much space, both in my physical surroundings and in my mind. But this time, I hope not to fill up the space with other junk that will collect dust. I want to become an even more conscious consumer, buying only what I truly need.
What I would recommend if you're considering integrating more simplicity into your life is to take it slow (of course!). Don't go cold turkey because that can drive you crazy (I speak from experience). Instead, try making one night of the week your home-cooked meal night. Or take a small bag of clothes you never wear to Goodwill or another local charity in need. Giving up everything isn't the point; instead, it's finding a balance that's right for you, one that respects your true needs and the needs of the planet. Do you really need 20 pairs of shoes? Do you really need to eat Wendy's on the way home? By slowly trying out new ways, you'll see what works for you and what you can't live without. The funny thing is, once you go down this road, your brain and habits start to shift and you'll look back years later and laugh that you really did think you needed those 200 back issues of your favorite magazine and the dress you wore to prom.
Other great simplicity resources I'd recommend:
Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin
In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore
Slow Food USA