Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 23:35:50 +1030
From: Fred Hawes <>
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My sister's been e-mailing me over about the last year and a half,
telling me how she's discovered the life of Voluntary Simplicity.
This began with a concern over how she was being bombarded with
advertisements for useless products through the entertainment media.
She also wanted to know if I could put her in touch with more
"conscious" people, since she was losing patience with the people
around her, all sleepwalking through their lives, absorbing those
adverts for the useless products, buying those useless products, and
Just Not Thinking.

She wrote, at one point, that "in my various readings, I've discovered
the Buddhist concept of Right Livelihood," which for her means a job
that doesn't require dealing with frustration, so that she has decided
to take early retirement.  Beats me, I thought she already had Right
Livelihood, she was a doctor.  But what do I know?

She's gone on to decide she needs to cut out all the useless consumer
goods from her life, and radically simplify her life by getting out of
the city altogether.  She and her fiance are serious about this --
log-cabin-in-the-Oregon-forest serious!

I especially like the way that, in every e-mail when she writes about
Voluntary Simplicity, she says "I mean, *you* don't have any *choice*..."
Don't get me wrong, I love my sister.  But she's pissin me off with

I think it's interesting, though, that, as we approach the end of the
Middle-Class Century, more and more people are rejecting materialism
and turning to this Voluntary Simplicity life.  It's one of those
amazing social trends that make good cocktail party talk; Simplicity
as a growth industry.  There are books to tell you how to do it right,
clothes and appliances that integrate with the Simpler Life.

I mean, I can see how it could happen.  You'd be out yuppie-grazing
with your coworkers, talking about derivative financial instruments
and secretly cursing them for bringing up shop-talk at lunch, trying
to eat your Gordian cha-soba gracefully while Tina Turner yowls over
the PA about how "you're simply the BEST!" (and for a moment you
fantasize that she means you personally, you feel good about that
for a moment), and your cellphone goes off, and everybody in the
restaurant checks theirs at once because they've all set the ring
to "The Toreador Song" just like you did that morning, and you'd
be saying to yourself, "What did I forget, what am I missing? --
Oh, yeah, SimPLISSSSSSSSS-ity!!"

So then it's off to the bookstore, to get a copy of that excellent
Edward deBono "Simplicity" book, with the flat white cover, title in
white letters in bas-relief.  Nice touch.  Good read, too.  Tells
you you're on the right track.  AFFIRMS your values.

You're trapped by the trappings of the mindless consumer life, 
you realize it now, and you want to get OUT!  You want to get
Simplicity into your life.

The right livelihood.  The escape from consumerism.  Clothes from
Land's End, because they don't assault you with advertising,
because they have that good, down-to-earth, home-spun quality.
Ordered on-line to avoid the frustration and hassles of the mall.
A life where you can BREATHE.  The simple homemade virtues.  The
smell of homemeade bread, straight from the MACHINE.  Uncluttered,
unfettered, you can stay in your log cabin, it's simple to fix a fine
simple meal because your large well-lit kitchen has only the best
appliances.  Uncluttered, unfettered, you can e-mail your friends,
to tell them about the latest breakthroughs in your meditation,
about how happy and peaceful you are -- except you can't yet,
the T1 link isn't installed, they can't get their damn truck up
the mountain through the forest.  Sleepwalkers, DAMN them.
You didn't have any trouble getting up on your dirt-bike this morning,
what's the matter with them?

How dare they complicate your life?