Is getting more “stuff” always a goal one must strive for?
Henry David Thoreau spent the better part of his life writing about man’s attempt to find truth and meaning through simplified living. At some point he discovered he could live within the harmony and beauty of nature with a clear conscience and only work six weeks a year to support his lifestyle.
Henry found it difficult to find a teaching job that matched his style so he worked briefly in his father’s pencil factory. At age 28, Thoreau built a small house on Waldon Pond and began to devote his time to his writing.
Advocating the simple life, his “Walden” journey began with: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately………..”
This of course is not how most working adults choose to live. If you are just getting out of college, the expectation is an immediate six figure income and the lifestyle that signifies “success.” We live in a society where material things and over indulgence is considered as a visible status symbol.
The fabulous big house in an influential neighborhood accompanied by two luxury brand cars tells everyone that you have finally arrived, even if it takes two incomes and being trapped in an unfulfilling job to make it work. The house in the right neighborhood then sets the expectations for keeping up socially. In order to maintain and keep up with the Jones’s you need to mingle with the same level of crowd and go where they go, get the country club membership and send your kids to the private schools. All this ‘material stuff’ requires that good six figure salary and keeping that job. We work longer hours to pay for everything and the new desires that keep coming up and consequently have less time to enjoy these.
Where do we really draw the line? Do you really need that big house only because you “qualified” for it? Should you be thanking God for providing when you have just spent half of your annual income on purchasing or financing that car? Do we really have to invite deep debt and live beyond our means, in other words complicate life? Isn’t this the way we never get out of the under the mound of debt?
Perhaps we, like Thoreau, could take time to savor the beauty of nature around us and to smell the fresh roses of everyday life. “Simplify, simplify.” “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Simplify not complicate and you will lead a more peaceful balanced life.