Elegance of SimplicityPosted: March 7, 2011
“Life is occupied in both perpetuating itself and in surpassing itself;
if all it does is maintain itself, then living is only not dying.”
~Simone de Beauvoir
After years working for grassroots nonprofit organizations, I’ve gotten a good education about the haves and the have-nots. I ran a soup kitchen and knew the needs of the women and children I served. I also knew the lack of need of our donors; wealthy women from the suburbs. Conspicuous consumption was a game to these women, one of whom can be frequently seen on Real Housewives of New Jersey. Land yachts, private schools, nannies, fancy kitchens which are never cooked in, designer shoes and handbags that are worn once. It was a challenge kowtowing to that, minutes after helping homeless old ladies pick out used winter coats. After a while, I got to thinking: how do I fit in here?
“Voluntary Simplicity” by Duane Elgin helped sort it out. First printed in 1981, it’s just been re-released and updated to address our more modern constraints. It’s not about politics and it’s not about self-sacrifice, nor is it about living in poverty. It’s about finding balance. Elgin examines conspicuous consumption, the hyperactivity of the internet age and their effect on our humanity. Through interviews and research, he presents an attainable means to embrace a more satisfying life through frugal consumption and ecological awareness. Elgin presents everyday adjustments one can make to inch towards “a way of life that is outwardly simple, inwardly rich”.