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Simplicity isn’t simple +_+


in A bit TMI,LIFE-tweaking

“The time has come,” the Walrus said.. but let’s leave shoes, ships & such aside for now. For us, it’s time to make the impending move. We do feel a bit like oysters to our friend-turned-landlord’s walrus, especially as he’ll be visiting this strip of sand shortly. Finding our own wee shell is quite the challenge due to failed credit born of wanderlust & other anti-societal choices.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

It’s interesting how struggling financially causes some people to assume laziness when in fact we’ve oft had to work harder than the average Joe or Jane. Some of the hardest workers I’ve known are also the poorest. Those of you who’ve made a decision for personal reasons despite the financial ramifications will understand. Our walrus informed me that being poor is a choice; we wouldn’t be poor, edible oysters if only we’d not settled for edibility.

To be fair, since I appreciate both honesty & opinions from all, I considered his claim. Lo & behold, there was a choice that set me on this path. At the age of 18, I abandoned my plan to nanny in New York as a way out of my multi-repressed hometown. I instead made the unthinkable choice to stay in a town I’d already run away from multiple times in order to work with Youth for Christ.

When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.Not only was I offering peer counseling & doing public speaking for free, I ended up with three jobs to support the habit. I had all those jobs when I met RhodesTer & would not have met him if I hadn’t made that choice to be poor three years earlier. Worse yet, as we came to realize we couldn’t imagine life without each other, I lured him down my potentially penniless path by admitting I would rather be poor & happy in lieu of a less than happy alternative.

Here’s the thing: I’d make choice after choice again.. So, while walruses may see me as fodder unless I’m building sandcastles, it’s just a cozy shell I’m after. This friend of ours may have failed miserably to see — much less accept — us for who we are yet was actually well-intentioned. Thus, he’s admittedly not so much the Walrus perhaps as the Carpenter which may explain why he believes no-one could actually want to simplify their lives.

Being in Real Estate, that’s an understandable if limited view. I’d explained to him via e-mail, “We’ve purposely stripped away anything that won’t support a life that is equally sustainable and enjoyable.” He replied, “The only reason you’ve purposely stripped away anything is because you’ve had too not because you’ve wanted too.” However, home-making is a lifestyle & it’s simply not one I’m interested in; maintaining a house is not how I want to expend my energy.

“Purchasing a home is not the act of a pessimist,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac. “But it is the act of a dweeb. Sure, renting costs more over time than owning, but do you want to spend your weekends cleaning out leaf gutters and fixing the garage-door opener, or do you want to be happy? Life is way too short, people. Loosen up.”

Okay, okay, my source is The Onion but the key to satire is its underlying truth. My mum (she’s one of my best friends as well) pointed out that, while I create a home wherever I am, house-keeping is definitely not for me. A person’s belongings & surroundings are an extension of self. This, of course, is why so many literally try to build themselves up materially. Yet, each & every thing we own or keep near us is also an expenditure of energy.

If you’re the type of carpenter that’s more concerned with the lemonade stand than the lemonade, our legitimate desire for simplified living will likely never make sense to you. The most misunderstood aspect of such a choice is that desiring simplicity is not an intention to stay poor. It is instead a determination to spend our money on experiences & those in need rather than our lifestyle.

Our carpenter friend cites “a friend that never made much money. Maybe she’d make $10,000 – $12,000 a year and that was a good year.  She always lived in a small studio apartment with very little and drove a very used car. I’ve been working with her and helping her over the years to do more then she has allowed herself. She use to say the same thing, “I just like to live simple…I don’t need much…blah, blah, blah.” Just last week she told me that although she was serious and believed her statement back then, she really likes the life she now has and she is so thankful for the change. She now owns two rental properties, gets paychecks of $9,000 (as she said, about what she use to get in a year), drives a Mercedes (not that everyone has too or wants too but it’s nice if you do and can), has the freedom to pursue her true passions of acting and ministry, etc., etc., etc. One other thing she said is that she now thinks it was incredibly selfish to think the way she did. By being able to make money she can do more for those around her. By only living for herself on a very small budget is selfish because that doesn’t allow you to do much for those around. I think she has a point. Last week she just called me to say thank you for the change in her life.”

While we are very happy for her & glad his tutelage proved something she wanted, hers is no more a style of life that appeals to us than her carpenter’s is. Both acting & ministry have been significant aspects of our lives as well but RhodesTer is working toward writing multiple roles rather than play one at a time while I continue to share myself with anyone who needs an ear, shoulder or piece of my ever-present silver jewelry. Most recently, I was able to impart myself to my cousin’s teenage daughter with a ring I regularly wore. Most of what I own has been with the understanding that it’s just until I meet its next owner.

Ultimately, we want nothing more than to make the most of whatever lemons come our way & will continue to work hard at juicing (no milking — milk is meant for foam — besides, lemons = juice) every opportunity that arises. Not once have we opted for an easy way out, much less ever doing less, but find that it’s not work per se when it supports what you love & nothing extraneous. We may be small fish, or oysters, in a large pond but are working hard to sort a shell we can call home. As of our once-friend’s impending visit, come hell or high water, we’ll be moving into something & are simply striving at this point to not waste our meager funds on a motel.

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”
~ Elbert Hubbard ~

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