Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action.
I’ve carried around my high school yearbooks to four different continents. I never have enough closet space for my shoes. And, my inbox is at 1655 (yes, I’m that person).
I don’t pretend to have simplicity in the bag. In fact, it is a conscious practice. When I am home in the U.S. for a visit, I have to stop my shopping cart before checkout and ask myself: do I need this? Having baggage weight limitations helps with this.
I suppose the chosen ease of life has developed from years living overseas. For the past ten years, my husband and I have worked as international teachers in Colombia, Tunisia, Korea, and now, Laos. Among many benefits of this profession like travel opportunities, there are elements that, to us, are freeing.
We don’t own a home. In these countries or even back home, we do not own property. Renting apartments and homes have allowed us to experience living in these places without the financial and physical commitment of owning. Certainly, there are moments we itch for our own place. But, until now, being “homeless” has afforded us liberties in time, money, and mobility.
We use public transportation. When necessary, we have owned vehicles (a motorcycle for the 30 minute commute in Medellin; an old Peugeot to putz around Tunis). Yet, for the most part, we’ve relied on the common forms of transportation in the cities we’ve lived in to get around. One of my fondest memories is riding my bicycle along the river path in Korea while listening to podcasts and music.
We experience mindful consumption. As mentioned, moving about puts the breaks on frivolous consumerism. Lighter luggage, less boxes to ship make for easier movement. The other part of this is that living and traveling in places where there are less choices is an eye-opener. Produce is seasonal. People buy what is needed. You learn to live without the Cheerios and try the local breakfast instead. It is always a shocking experience to shop in an American supermarket after living abroad. The number of shampoo brands or coffee beans is overwhelming. Trying to be more in touch with what comes from where and how is also something that calls for consistent consciousness.
At times, the societal programming kicks in and I think: I’m 37. No house. No car. No iphone 5. What do I have to show for myself? The following quote has the answer for me.
“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.”
― John Maeda, The Laws of Simplicity (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life)
My lifestyle has given me enormous growth, knowledge, and experience. For this, I am…simply grateful.