In our modern consumer culture learning to live simply, not constantly in pursuit of things, is an acquired skill. I grew up, like many Americans, believing I had to have the fanciest, the best, and the latest I could afford; that possessions defined me and made me better. The reality of this was far different than I had imagined. The very moment I was the most successful in terms of wealth and “stuff,” was also the most miserable, including a descent into alcoholism. Working hard in effort to acquire more stuff seems little more than a hollow unsatisfying effort to superficially boost ones’ self esteem. This path, at least in my case, was diverting me from taking pleasure in life and happiness.
Living simply is not taught in the classrooms, and it is certainly not a part of our culture. How many times have you heard, “I am being a good American and buying stuff?” In fact, our rampant materialism and consumption seems to not only be at the core of our unhappiness, but is also destroying that which supports a happy and healthy life. Living in a small modest RV by choice has taught me to live simply, and without the constant pangs of wanting.
When we started this journey I had no idea of what we would discover. I knew we would see some cool places, and possibly find a new town to call home, but did not know that at times there would be intense moments of awareness, appreciation and fear. The process of shedding old beliefs and habits can be emotional at times, but mostly it feels liberating. Simple living, at least in our culture, is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. I do not believe having an appreciation for simplicity comes naturally in our modern society. I am thankful everyday that by deliberately choosing this lifestyle, I am able to practice living a life with less noise, stress, and a greater appreciation for the little things. For millennia spiritual teachers have often told us that desire, craving and coveting are at the root of suffering, yet here we are in culture that prioritizes these and disguises them as virtues. By choosing to live a simpler life, it as though we have stepped off the merry-go-round, to observe it really is just a hamster wheel.