Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Voluntary simplicity fear
People fear voluntary simplicity. They might hate slaving for the man and paying too much for a lifestyle they don't even enjoy all that much. Even though they don't like the rat race they are afraid to get off the wheel.
They fear that if simplicity doesn't work for them, they'll never get their old lifestyle back. (they might hate it, but it's familiar)
The thing is, the fear is valid. The trip down can be one way. Let's say the guy gives up the big house, the expensive car, and the high pressure job. He retreats to small cabin where he can make a living weaving baskets. His needs are simple. There's no pressure. Six months later he's going stir crazy and wants back in the game.
Getting back won't be easy. There's the six month gap in the resume to explain. He doesn't even own a good suit for a job interview. Then there's the fact that potential employers will figure he's a radical nut for his six months of simple living.
Be careful when making radical life changes.
I've a couple of friends who live downstate. One was going through some issues and was thinking of giving up everything: the job, the house, the wife, the cars -everything. I think he had some idea of backpacking through South America or something like that. My other friend recommended that he come up to see me for a few days.
So my buddy comes up to visit us in the woods. We hang out, take it easy, and have some good conversation. I figured out the big problem. He was in a terrible marriage that was just entering the early stages of divorce. I told him to deal with the divorce then see how the rest of his life looked to him.
Well, after the divorce, the rest of his life didn't look bad at all. The house was sold, but he had a new one built in a lower cost area. The guy remarried and is doing fine. Turns out he didn't really want to backpack in South America. The one thing he really needed to downsize was the high cost wife. She was emotionally expensive.
We hear about people making the big leap into a simple lifestyle. That's a good story. Dramatic. Those who downsize, little by little, into something they are comfortable with, isn't as exciting a story. Now it is possible start out by doing a few small things and eventually living very simply. By moving slowly, a person can figure out if the whole simplicity thing is what he really wants. Also, there's the chance to learn from trial and error along the way.
Unfortunately, the way the economy is today, involuntary simplicity can happen to anyone who works for a living. It's a rougher road than the voluntary kind. Choices are limited and everything has to be figured out at once. Even if you don't want to simplify your life, it wouldn't hurt to give some thought on how to go about doing it. The mental exercise will be good for you. You might even find you like the idea and take a few baby steps in that direction. Being mentally prepared could save you a world of grief in the future.