Last night I attended the first session of the Living Simply Circle of the Climate Change Initiative of Howard County. I knew I was in the right place when I pulled up at Oliver’s Carriage House and saw all the Priuses (Priusi?) and Obama bumper stickers. The Climate Change Initiative has circles on different topics.
For many people trying to live the simple life brings up images of Thoreau and Gandhi. Do we find meaning in our lives in consuming? Have “things” replaced human interaction? Are we all hoarders of “things?” Most of us decry the commercialism that has taken over our culture and our holidays. When is enough stuff enough? Why has shopping become the main leisure activity for so many people?
I want to propose a challenge to everyone. Try to have "spending free days" each week when you will carry no money, checks or credit cards. You can then compare your quality of life on your “no buying days” with your normal spending days. At the end of the period you can evaluate the experience and then see if you can increase your “no buying days.” To make this a day of denial I would suggest that you plan an activity on the “no spending day” that you enjoy that doesn’t cost any money. For me this is going to Borders picking out a book to read for an hour or two (but this week I will forgo the vanilla latte at Border’s that I love to have when reading).
Maybe we will find that what Janis Joplin sang “freedom just another word for nothing left to lose” is true when it comes to our need to own "stuff."