Why living The Simple Life isn't a simple life...

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Simple

adjective

1. easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty.

2. plain, basic or uncomplicated in form, nature or design; without much decoration or ornamentation.


When I was telling people what we were doing when we lived on the farm and grew veggies for a living, I swear people would practically swoon - "Oh my god, that sounds amazing. To just get up and potter in the veggie patch, bake bread, collect the eggs...where do I sign up?" was often the gist of it. And I have to admit that I certainly had rose coloured glasses about it all when we first moved too. It was a damn fine life, and yes, some days were just like the one described above...but around those days there were days that meant scrambled eggs for dinner because I hadn't baked bread or gone to the shops (a 30 km drive away, that shut at 6pm weeknights or mid afternoon on weekends) in days and the fridge was empty and the veggies weren't ready to pick yet, or days where you couldn't stand to have bare feet inside for the floor was so dirty and covered in dust and mud and dog hair because I hadn't had time to clean it...and don't get me started on how often our shower was completely feral or our own house garden was full of weeds. Far from that life leaving me with hours each day to finally devote to creating content for this space or getting through the piles of books on gardens and permaculture and business that I wanted to read, it in fact made my life much, much more complicated and full in a lot of ways.

I listen every week to this most excellent podcast and it is something I've heard raised as a frequent question from listeners "How do I have a slow and simple life if I don't want to move to the country/give up my job/grow my own food/live in a tiny home". And if I am honest, it kind of makes me bristle a little whenever it is brought up, because to me the implication of that question is sometimes this - life must be simple if you choose to do things like grow your own food or bake your own bread because you don't have the pressure of having a job or having to make lots of money to pay for a big city mortgage. That it must be so easy for people who have given up those things to have a simple life... and I call bollocks on that. 

While I whole heartedly agree that choosing to not have a full time job or a big city mortgage allows you to make choices about how you spend your time, choosing to live 'The Simple Life' does not make your life automatically simple. In fact, life was a lot simpler when I worked a full time job and had a full time income. I knew what my bills were each week and I knew what I would be paid. I knew when and where to get my food. I could drive to the shop for milk in 2 minutes. We rarely had electricity black outs and the pipes never froze in winter leaving us without water. If I was sick, I could stay in bed all day knowing that my job would not fall apart because I didn't attend to it. Saturdays and Sundays were a chance to 'get away' if we wanted, knowing also that nothing would die in our absence. The house wasn't blanketed in dust from passing farm machinery and ironically, I had far more privacy and personal space. I had a set routine for my days and weeks and months. Life was, by definition, simple. I didn't need to think too much about what I had to do to cover my bases of food and shelter, and I didn't need to think too much beyond the end of my own street if I didn't feel like it. 

I'm not having a rant here about how full life was living on a farm with a slightly more subsistence lifestyle. I loved that life and I cannot wait to return to it. I was connected to nature, every day. I felt the seasons, instead of observing them. It was a gentle life, with lots of solitude and flow. It was a life full of surprises and joy each day as well as disappointment, with lessons in resilience and patience often. It was REAL, and it made me realise how much of a disconnected life I'd been living beforehand. But it was not 'simple', not in the dictionary sense of the word that I think many people presume it to be.

To me a simple life is a life of intention, not necessarily of ease. A life where you are choosing the way you live each day. A life where you are involved in it's creation, rather than just as a participant in it as it unfolds. A life where you know what means the most to you, and why, and where you make choices each day to stay aligned to that. You do not have to move to the country, or bake your own bread, or grow your own food, or quit your job or live life in a shack to live a simple life - in fact, don't do any of those things if you are looking for an 'easy' life, because you will not find it there. A connected, joyful, grounded, raw and expansive life, yes; but not an easy one. 

Please don't confuse having a simple life with needing to live the so-called 'Simple Life'. You can have simple wherever you are, but know this - your version of simple will look different to everyone else's!