Simple Living: Narrowing My Life
I want to share with all of you a remarkable article written by a friend of mine, Sonya L. Morley. She and her family are about to put a dream into action. Rather than me tell you about it I’ll let Sonya do it herself. Read her words at http://sonyalmorley.hubpages.com/hub/Seeking-Quality-Of-Life-A-Familys-Story.
Without giving anything I way I will tell you that if you read the title you will gain a pretty good insight into the article. Her story is all about seeking quality of life as a family, and for any of you who have been following along with my articles you will know that this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart.
SO WHAT IS QUALITY OF LIFE?
Well, if you were to look up the term “quality of life” you would find that it is a phrase used to evaluate the well-being of an individual, family or society. Using that as a guide it can then be assumed that quality of life is defined differently for each of us. What I consider to be necessary for my well-being could be completely different from what you would consider necessary and chances are if we are talking about those who live in Third World countries then we have a whole new set of criteria.
Some things, however, could be considered fundamental for any of us. Food, shelter and water immediately come to mind when I begin to consider quality of life. After that we move into the creature comforts discussion and which of those are necessary in order to attain the quality of life that we each seek.
SONYA AND OTHERS LIKE HER
In her fine article Sonya relates some very serious soul-searching that she and her husband have been doing regarding working harder to pay bills and provide a monetary level of comfort vs. moving to the country, not having as much money but spending more time together as a family. I suspect there are a great many out there who can relate to Sonya’s soul-searching for there seems to be a very quiet movement among many to achieve a simpler lifestyle.
The concept of working harder to attain more possessions to achieve a level of comfort for your family is now being seriously debated simply because in working harder you have less time to spend with your loved ones. It is an economic theory that is doomed to fail with regards to actually interacting with those you love.
I watched my parents subscribe to this theory; two harder working people you will not meet and they did all they could to provide for me but in the process we spent less and less time as a family. I myself fell into this trap. I have worked hard for forty-seven years; I have owned possessions and made six-figure incomes and several years ago I had to ask myself why? What the hell was I doing? How long is long enough with regards to working hard? How much money is enough with regards to possessions and lifestyle? What is the price tag attached to precious time with loved ones?
My mother and father were young teens when the Great Depression had its grips on the United States. They emerged from that period of our history with a belief that you had to work hard if you were ever going to protect yourself from the vagaries of the economy; in other words, in their minds, hard work and long hours were the protection that guaranteed safety.
Naturally, having been raised in that environment and having seen how hard my parents worked, I grew to believe in the same principles of hard work and I set out to prove that I was every bit as capable of being successful if only I worked long enough and hard enough.
I do not fault my parents for their beliefs; in fact I completely understand them and I willingly embraced them as my own. However, a little over five years ago I was forced to re-evaluate my life and everything I had believed up to that point.
I came to the realization, reluctantly I might add, that I was trying too hard to do too many things and it was slowly killing me. As I gained more and more sobriety it became apparent to me that my whole approach to life was not working. I had lost sight of who I was and I had lost sight of what was important in life. It was time to change or die!
NARROWING MY LIFE
So what did I do? My plan took several years of fine-tuning before I arrived at a point where I could find peace and fulfillment. I began by returning to teaching because working with kids had always been a constant joy in my life. I found a job at a wonderful school just outside of Portland, Oregon, and loved my time there, but I was still one-hundred miles from family and friends. If I was going to find the happiness that I sought I needed to be surrounded by loved ones, so after two years at that school I resigned and took a teaching job in my home town of Olympia.
Lovely idea but that school was the epitome of dysfunction and after only two months of working there I was stressed and unhappy! Time once again to re-evaluate my circumstances. What should I do? What was I trying to achieve? I was working full-time, making money and yet not happy. What was wrong with this picture that I was living?
I woke up one morning and dreaded going to school and trust me when I say that has never happened in my entire teaching career. Obviously I needed to do something and do it quickly because my well-being and sobriety, or as Sonya would say my quality of life, was too important to me to go on much longer in a state of misery and stress.
The answer came quickly and I acted on it immediately before I could convince myself that I wasn’t being practical. I simply resigned that day, walked away and never looked back. For the first time in my teaching career teaching had become a job for me rather than a calling and it was not adding to the quality of life that I deserved and so I quit.
WHERE TO GO FROM THERE
At that point I was without a plan and no safety net at all and yet I felt at peace. As you all know by now I made the decision to become a freelance writer and that is what I have done now for over a year.
The search for simplicity has not stopped with that career decision. I then took a look at the possessions I had always believed were needed. As it turned out that was just silly and so I sold most of what I had and began a new life of simplicity. Today any major decision is looked at from a new perspective. Is my decision going to enhance my way of life or detract from it? My sobriety comes first for without that I will have nothing else. Next comes family and loved ones and spending quality time with them is now my new mantra in life. I am sixty-three years old; how much more time do I have to enjoy the fruits of love? I do not have a minute to waste in that regard and so each day holds quality time with those I love.
My new life consists of writing enough to provide food and shelter and spending time with those important to me. I now have the freedom to stop what I am doing during the day and go for a walk with Bev. I now have the freedom to stop what I am doing and visit with my son. I now have the freedom to….live!
IT JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER
You see, I completely understand where Sonya is coming from with this decision of hers. The quality of my life is all that I consider important today. I have narrowed my focus down to the bare essentials of life and I can look you in the eye and tell you that I have never been happier.
I have written about this subject before and often I will hear from someone saying it just isn’t that easy for everyone. I concede the point that most people cannot just quit their job and sell off everything they own. It really comes down to what is necessary to achieve the quality of life that you feel you deserve? There will always be reasons not to do it. Reasons (and some would call them excuses) are quite easy to come by, and once the reason (excuse) has been made it is just as easy to justify it.
I made my decision. Sonya is making her decision. What will it take for you to achieve the quality of life that you desire and deserve?
I wish you well in your search and I wish you happiness in your life.
2012 Bill Holland (aka billybuc)