Living Simple or Simple Living: A New Revolution Is Afoot
TIMES THEY ARE A’CHANGIN’
“Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.”
Bob Dylan may have written that in the 60’s, and he may have been talking about a different sort of change, but it could have easily been written about today, for the times truly are a’changin’.
Slowly but surely, like a tsunami gathers strength racing across the ocean, so too this new revolution is gathering strength across the United States. It sprouted from seeds planted in the mid-1860’s by Henry David Thoreau, the Father of Frugal Living.
“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”
Henry David Thoreau
As technology advanced at the beginning of the 20th Century, the theory of simple living lost its attraction, but history and the connected events have a way of readjusting our thinking as a species. The Great Depression delivered the message to those who had forgotten, and a whole new era of frugality began, not by choice but for survival.
Having risen from the ashes of that great economic disaster, the survivors told the story, warned that it could happen again, and yet the stories were ignored. Another lesson was learned during the Great Recession of the 1970’s and once again that lesson was forgotten.
When will we, as a society, learn?
The current recession, which began in 2007, still has its grips on the nation….the world….and the end is nowhere in sight. Again the lesson has been presented, and again some are paying attention. A revolution has been re-born!
For sure my parents remembered to tell the stories of the Great Depression to their son. I have been asked often where my ideas about frugal living come from. I simply laugh because I have only to remember my childhood and the way we lived as I was growing up. I received, as did many my age, a daily lesson in living a simple life, one that Thoreau envisioned so many years ago.
If it were not so sad I would laugh when I think of Thoreau. He was concerned about the advancement of technology. He was concerned with the hoarding of possessions. He was concerned with the debasement of the environment and he was concerned with overpopulation. Remember, please, that his writings began to take root in the early 1800’s. Oh, what would Henry David think about today?
But I digress! When I was growing up we were, in economic terms, lower-middle class. We always had money for the house payment, for food and clothing, but after that things were tight. We did not have a dishwasher, and the appliances we did have were years old and getting older daily. Any repairs that had to be made were made by my dad; what he didn’t know how to repair he would learn from friends.
It occurs to me that when we were kids and teenagers, we never had trouble finding something to do that did not cost money. When did we lose that ability?
It was a simple life with simple pleasures; it was the only life I knew and I loved it!
THE MEMORY SPAN OF A GNAT
I grew into a man, and like the rest of the nation, long ago lessons were forgotten. I earned a good living and spent most of it, and what I couldn’t afford I made payments on, forever fueling the economy and keeping the money-lenders in business. It became the classic game of robbing Peter to pay Paul, a financial juggling act that was doomed from the start. All was well as long as all was well, but if one crucial block was removed, like a job, the entire financial foundation crumbled.
No problem! I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and started the whole process again….only to have the same scene replayed time and time again.
I suspect I could be speaking for a great number of people as I write this. My financial security was all an illusion, dependent upon economic factors that were completely out of my control. Instead of taking control of my own well-being, I placed faith in governmental and economic systems that were flawed.
The outcome was never in doubt!
Suggestions From My Friend Stephanie
- Frugal Living Tips for Families: Save Money and Have Fun
You don't have to sacrifice fun as a family when you are sticking to a budget. Consider these easy frugal living tips that lead to significant monthly savings and minimal complaining by your children and spouse.
A Few Suggestions
- Live Simple: Five Steps Towards A Simple Lifestyle.....Installment One
Five steps to take to begin making your life less hectic. A simple lifestyle is a frame of mind, and it begins with little steps and then becomes a new way of living.
THE LIGHT BULB TURNS ON OVER MY HEAD
I woke up from my fantasy world in 2006. I came to realize that working full-time in order to chase my own tail and feed a system that did not care about me was insanity. A vision came to me of a simpler life, one without debt, one not dependent on factors outside my control. As the recent recession deepened, I noticed more and more people coming to the same realization that I came to, that it is entirely possible to divorce oneself from the insanity. I became a Thoreau disciple!
No, I did not retreat into the woods of Walden, but I did retreat from the madness. I formulated a plan that would free me from the rat race I had willingly participated in for forty-five years, and in 2010 I took the next big step and quit my full-time teaching job to become a freelance writer.
Now the plan continues as I further embrace the only lifestyle that makes sense to me, a lifestyle based on frugality, and aimed at complete self-reliance.
And apparently I am not the only one who has joined the New Revolution!
Sit With Me Awhile
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
“With impressive proof on all sides of magnificent progress, no one can rightly deny the fundamental correctness of our economic system.”
Those words, by President Herbert Hoover, were spoken shortly before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. I read those words and then I think of the two major candidates for President in 2012, and I say to myself…they just don’t get it!
Our economic system is a house of cards, and when it crumbles, as it surely will, the Great Depression is going to look like a walk in the park. Many of the leading economists in the nation are expecting a double-dip recession in 2013, and several are predicting a worldwide economic collapse by 2016.
In other words, we have not seen the worst yet! Now please understand, I am not one to panic; I have heard many dark predictions over my sixty-three years, and few have come true. However, I look at the economy of this country and I wonder how much longer can we play these games? How much longer can our economy survive with China pulling the puppet strings? How much longer can our economy survive without a strong manufacturing base? How much longer can we survive the wealth disparity in this country and how much longer can we survive the weakening U.S. dollar, a dollar that is only as strong as the nation it represents?
I hope I am wrong! However, if I am correct, then the only logical solution for individuals is to learn to become more self-sufficient and self-sustaining. The movement is catching fire in the United States, to the extent that the near-dead concepts of commune and community are making a comeback. Community gardens, individual gardens, and group living are on the rise. Eliminating debt is now being considered by millions, and living off the grid, once considered the radical solution for drug-crazed hippies, is now a viable, mainstream vision.
I know this to be true: we can no longer live the way we have in the past. Overspending has never worked! Buying with credit has never worked! Living from paycheck to paycheck is a system doomed to failure!
Care To Take A Poll?
So, what do you think about the new revolution?
TIMES THEY ARE A’CHANGIN’
At one time in fairly recent history, the United States was the world leader in manufacturing. People were working, the dollar was sound, and the future looked bright. Those days are gone. We have outsourced our future, and now the economic survival of this country is at stake.
I do not believe in violent revolution; never have, never will. Now is the time for the country, and I’m speaking for the bottom 80%, to pull together and embrace an economic revolution. We must eliminate our own personal debt. We must cut the fat and live within our means. We must reach out a hand of help to those below us. We must do whatever is necessary to stop this downward spiral, and it must be done on an individual basis.
Waiting for our nation’s leaders to solve the problem will never work because you see, they are the problem. Waiting for the mega-corporations to solve the problem will never work because you see, they are the problem.
Bob Dylan had it right; it is time we start swimming or we will sink like a stone. Living Simple is the only logical solution. There is freedom just around the corner; just follow the path once traveled by Henry David Thoreau.
The times are truly changing!
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)