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Voluntary Simplicity

By Duane Elgin

The following is an excerpt from Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin (HarperCollins Publishers, 2010). Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as the “bible” of the simplicity movement, Elgin’s hopeful, artistic manifesto challenges misconceptions about simplistic living, proving that simplicity leads to balance and happiness, not to regression and poverty. This excerpt is from Chapter 4, “Living Simply.”

The dictionary defines “simplicity” as being “direct, clear; free of pretense or dishonesty; free of vanity, ostentation, and undue display; free of secondary complications and distractions.” In living more simply, we encounter life more directly — in a firsthand and immediate manner. We need little when we are directly in touch with life. It is when we remove ourselves from direct and wholehearted participation in life that emptiness and boredom creep in. It is then that we begin our search for someone or something that will alleviate our gnawing dissatisfaction. Yet the search is endless in that we are continually led away from ourselves and our experience in the moment.

If you were to choose death as an ally (as a reminder of the preciousness of each moment) and the universe as your home (as a reminder of the awesome dimensions of our existence), then wouldn’t a quality of aliveness, immediacy and poignancy naturally infuse your moment-to-moment living? If you knew that you were going to die within several hours or days, wouldn’t the simplest things acquire a luminous and penetrating significance? Wouldn’t each moment become precious beyond all previous measure? Wouldn’t each flower, each person, each crack in the sidewalk, each tree become a fleeting and never-to-be-repeated miracle? Simplicity of living helps brings this kind of clarity and appreciation into our lives.

Read the original article at: Mother Earth News

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