**Note : This blog post is a revision of the one I originally posted a year ago entitled “To Simplify A Life Like Mine.” **
Juggling two jobs for the last six years, I might not be the perfect embodiment for this subject, although I seem to be the kind of person who naturally or effortlessly falls into an austere lifestyle – more often than other people. I don’t know the exact reason why.
Last weekend, I browsed inside a bookstore for several hours and spent a whole day’s salary to buy a Jorge Luis Borges’ classic. Such indulgence has become one of my definitions of time and money well-spent. I have learned to exercise my privilege to yield to activities and things that inspire me – as my wisdom nowadays gets dictated by the simple pleasures I seek and perceive. But I’m aware as well it’s not what “normal” people do here, especially on a weekend.
There always has existed an ascetic soul hiding beneath me. The soul who has imagined of a charming place where I could be in the company of bohemian artists roaming around…preferably of starving bohemians who possess the mark of natural simpleness that renders good art possible. Where there’s lovely, spacious room to create and flourish. With ample time to dream. By splendid fools forever eager of fresh beginnings.
In my past, I have inevitably walked through the valleys of cosmopolitan wants and delights. Forbearance on shopping and consumerism wasn’t one of my strong suits in my earlier years – notwithstanding my lack of funds. Alas, the stuff that piled up went on to clutter my already disorderly younger mind whilst gathering dust – which I’ve perpetually disliked – inside my residence. So my mantra, when tempted by mall or store sales these days is: Abstain from collecting stuff if you don’t want to accumulate dust.
We know excessive stuff leads to chaos, and chaos derails progress. Learning my lesson well, becoming a “minimalist” has become a highly appealing concept for me in my 30s. I have not since wanted to go back to my previous lifestyle – now that I’ve reached my 40s. Really, what a gift it is to have freedom from possessions and clutter to be able to focus on the things that really matter in our daily lives. I’ve never been comfortable dealing with any kind of complications in my life anyway. Never had a desire to impress people with worldly goods as well. I’m of the belief a simple life bears no relation to the richness of your mind or personality for as long as you don’t lose that appetite for the sublime things in life.
With simplicity, you step into calm and beauty. You get to treat lonesome quiet as a friend, not as an enemy. It’s a ray of truth in my life; for my kind who guards space and privacy with relish and delight. With only one child to raise, it could have afforded me better chances to rediscover wonder in a different light.
Most people would take a long while to come to this notion. After all, what’s thrilling about simplicity, structure and the ordinary? Or maybe it comes with maturity, even though I keep on witnessing how some “matured” people have remained trapped in their ethos of materialism. It’s true, simplifying or downsizing is still considered off the wall within the parameters of my society. We all know it is plain pointless to ram a lifestyle down anyone’s throat. And I’m saying this out of my apprehension that I might be accused of promoting a run-of-the-mill existence to anyone who’s capable of comprehending my way of life.
Try not to wince as I describe the present interiors of my tiny apartment – where you can find only the bare necessities of standard living: a refrigerator, a washing machine, two beds (I live with my son), a couple of medium-sized cabinets, a dresser, and an oven. My dining table and chairs are even foldable so they won’t take considerable space (Can’t risk taking on a single sofa. I’ve a cat. Visitors also sit on chairs). A television set? Sure I’ve got one (a very old model by the way). But it rarely gets turned on – and I’m not blowing smoke up anyone’s ass by saying that – because my son and I are truly non-TV citizens around here. Ditto for owning expensive jewelry, clothes, accessories and whatnot which never was my style. Admittedly though, my battle remains with the plentiful of outgrown reading materials that I need to discard.
Travelling with heavy luggage is a no-no for me. And do hold your breath for this: I haven’t had a car for years now. I gave my last vehicle – which by the way had given me supreme hassles – to my sister in exchange for the rent-free abode she has let me enjoyed for so long (Yes, she owns my current digs. And of course she sold the car). Which means I’ve no problem being a jeepney rider all the time.
Indeed I walk my talk – for the single reason that I am contented despite the dearth of luxuries in my present existence. I ain’t complaining at all.
Sensibility is the culmination of simplicity in the art of daily living. How I believe that.
Great people can alter their lives at will so they can better make clear and rational choices about the substance and direction of their lives. It’s not like I’m a great person – albeit I wish I were. So perhaps I’ll try to be one?
Or maybe I just was really a monk in a previous life.
Not that bad an idea.