I keep trying to crack this nut that I call “living simply in the suburbs.”
I’ve dedicated a whole website to the idea, yet even I wrestle with what I mean by the phrase. Not only do I wrestle with the phrase, but I also wrestle with the fact that any meaning I come up with only highlights how bad I am at living simply…in the suburbs.
Yet I can’t shake the idea and can’t stop making a run at creating a set of ‘simply in the suburbs principles’ to which I can hold my own dang self accountable and which I hope helps others.
Simplicity and minimalism have been popular over the last few years. Minimalism always seemed to carry about this weird religious fervor to own a tiny number of things. In my suburban life, this hyper-simplicity didn’t make sense.
When I thought about it, I realized that suburban life presents unique challenges to living simply. Nothing in suburban American life helps you peel away things that don’t matter so that you can major in your own personal values.
Everything battles against making decisions based on what’s important to you. The suburban temptation is to try to win a race you don’t know you’re running against people who don’t know they’re running against you.
And that race, my friends, is anything but ‘simple’.
It’s a maddening pursuit of more.
It’s filled with obstacles like comparison and distraction.
It replaces your values with others’ values and makes comfort the goal.
It creates competition where there should be community.
So yes… I do believe that simplicity is a worthy goal and that the suburbs create a unique battleground. I’m sure city folk and country folk have similar battles, but I’ll let you create Simply in the City or Simply in the Sticks.
As for me, I’m gonna fight it out here in the suburbs.
And whether this betrays personality defects in me or not, I believe it truly is a battle to stick to a simple, core set of values and to live intentionally from the strength of those values in the middle of all the other voices and priorities swirling around.
I’ll continue to flesh these things out. I can think of little worse than spending a life based, not on your own hopes, dreams, values, but on things that seemed to make sense but really weren’t what you cared about. So I think this is important work – at least for myself, if I’m unique in this deal.
Thoughts? I’d love to hear ’em.
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