Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Living Light

Content Warning: This post verges on preachy ... I didn't intend this, and I kind of hate it when people preach to me, so if you're like me and you don't like listening to people talk about how to 'live right' or what have you, you might want to skip this one.  I'm sure I'll be back to my normal sarcastic self soon.  

I've acquired a lot of bad habits, written about many of them and even acquired a few new ones in the past year or so (drinking too much chai and coffee, forgetting to put on deodorant--don't worry, I've learned to counteract this one by keeping a travel-sized backup in my bag, saying I'll workout tomorrow, adding too many books to my to-read list so that I'll likely never catch up in this lifetime, and it goes on) but I do have one habit that I've recently realized is quite good, and it's a habit I've kept throughout most of my life, one that I very likely gained when I ran away from home: I travel light.

Recently, I've been rather stressed about my financial situation, the fact that I have yet to find a job.  Chris suggested that I utilize this time, while I have it, and begin to focus more on my writing.  Thinking this some of the best advice I could get, I began researching blogs, thinking that I'd begin to take this one more seriously and even attempt an angle bigger than 'it's about me' when I came across one of Time Magazine's top 25 blogs of 2009,  Zen Habits.

This blog is about living simply, and it's focus made me feel better about my constant urge to reduce the amount of clutter in my life.  Some of the advice on this site even urged me to further reassess what it is that I truly need.  Although the fact that Chris and I own only seven plates (a bit excessive by my standards), a two-person set of silverware and a handful of drinking glasses seems somewhat inconvenient when we have guests over, it is also a surefire way to ensure that we're never faced with a sink full of dishes to clean.  Moreover, the fact that I still own a few racing T-shirts from when I was a child makes me think twice before running out and buying something cutesy and retro to wear on the weekends (they still fit, but not quite the way they used to).

I'm no Zen master.  Hell, I still over-consume plenty, especially when it comes to ice cream or books.  I also spend an obsessive amount of time on various social networking sites or reading news online.  But, as a whole, I live an incredibly simplistic life.  The life of a writer without a trust fund lends itself to such a lifestyle, I think.  I have a small apartment (writer's budget), I don't own a gym membership (who needs to when there's FitTV and free weights and oh, I don't know, outside!), I have very few distractions at home (no big screen TV or video game collection) and a comparatively small wardrobe (partially due to my pickiness and again, the writer's budget).  Yet, I have enough.

I think about all the people whose lives have been destroyed or displaced by natural disasters, such as those in New Orleans or Haiti, and it makes me realize how comfortable my simple life is.  I wanted to share this site because I realize that many people, who may have more than me, some of whom might even have pride in having more, might benefit from a life that is modeled on those of us who don't yet have much.  When I think about Haiti right now, I think about how much I really need and I feel less desire for more.  Granted, having a lot requires a person to have responsibility for what he or she owns, and in part, it's somewhat of a relief to not have all that much and inspired by the idea that we could have nothing in an instant.  At the same time, the less people consume, the more we can share, and believe it or not, I think there is less stress and far more reward this way.

So for all my bad habits, I think this is one that's pretty damn good.  And, even though I'm making a personal correlation here, I really do feel the urge to share.  I feel a little less want, a little more empathy, just taking stock.


  1. Jen, I relate to everything you just said and I didn't find it preachy at all. The only difference is, that I am much older than you are and I've just figured all of that out. Simpler is so much better, at least, in my opinion.
    I commend you for embracing this thought at a young age. You will have a much fuller life and a longer time to enjoy, God willing.

    Warm wishes to you,

  2. Jen,
    Our material necessities are bred by our inner desires. The only thing I find amiss is the spiritual aspect of reducing the clutter. Zen, Yoga or any other form of meditation is a way to control the mind, to untangle the mental mess we usually are in. A clear mind can think judiciously on the assimilation of proper ingredients for a peaceful, tranquil life ahead.
    It is a highly enjoyable blog to read, and a wonderful insight into your generic approach to life.

  3. Hi Jen,

    It doesn't sound preachy. Although, I think this comes more easily to some than others. I've never really cared much about "things" and this leads to interesting discussions with friends who have to own everything. But the way I feel, owning a house for example is just work I don't want to worry about.

  4. I agree with the others. This is far from preachy. (You want preachy? Sh*t look at my stuff...) I love it. You're right. Make sure you come back and read this the next time you feel like you want more. (Does it count as preachy if I preach to you to follow the advice you have on your post that you think is too preachy? *Even though it's not...*)


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