After my post yesterday about simplicity, I had the nagging feeling that accompanies an incomplete thought. I didn’t feel like I made my point. I wasn’t sure what my point was.
Several years ago I wrote a post called Technology or Simplicity? and mused over the different steps I could make toward a simpler life, and what the end goal would be. I didn’t answer my question about which was better. Instead, I was just beginning to explore the subject.
Today I think that consciousness/mindfulness is more meaningful than simplicity. Some people can manage large projects well. From the outside, we might look at their work in awe, but the word ‘simple’ would never come to mind. Some people manage to live with contentment and grace, despite very modest circumstances. We may call them simple and admire them for it, but if we did it ourselves, would it feel so simple to us?
The Shakers, the Quakers, the Amish and the Mennonites are all held up as virtuous examples of the simple life. As an observer, the things about these communities that inspire me are those things that I can’t see: my perception of their mindfulness and intention. The simplicity of beautiful, or even austere, woodwork isn’t what draws me in. Instead, I am fascinated by handicrafts because of the the evidence of time spent consciously, with focus.
While perhaps we cannot all live as simply as we would like, with few things to keep charge of, everyone can practice living more thoughtfully. Mothers (and fathers), especially, should practice this and teach their children how to develop thoughtfulness. That’s why I was taken aback at the suggestion that it’s not so easy for parents to live simply because society requires them to buy certain things for their children that they otherwise wouldn’t have to buy. That seems more like an excuse than a meaningful comment. And it also puts more focus on the simplicity of things rather than the simplicity of spirit.
What good is simplicity without mindfulness? It is awareness and intention that matters most.