Simplicity Made Easy Paperback – 1 May 2011
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Simplicity. What does it mean? This has been a challenge to me for many years. Some people seem to feel that it is a movement backwards towards an older, supposedly simpler, way of living - growing our own food, avoiding electrical equipment such as computers and so on. For me, this wasn't a direction I could take. Yes, I can and do enjoy some gardening but my livelihood is based on computers. I couldn't go back to a treadle-powered machine or lose the internet.
Quakers have a testimony to simplicity, but what does it involve? In Advices and queries number 40 we are challenged: `Try to live simply. A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength. Do not be persuaded into buying what you do not need or cannot afford. Do you keep yourself informed about the effects your style of living is having on the global economy and the environment?'
Jennifer Kavanagh's new book Simplicity made easy tackles some of these questions. As she states in the introduction: `Simplicity is neither simple to achieve nor easy to define. Is it the opposite of complexity? Is it a lack of elaboration or a lack of excess? It may be all of these things but there is a positive quality to simplicity that is more than a set of negatives, and surpasses form.' These questions are expanded upon throughout the remainder of the book in a way that I found extremely helpful.
Jennifer talks about the inner need to simplify your life. She states that simplicity is not a lifestyle choice but rather an attitude of mind. It is an inner compulsion to simplify our lives rather than an outer one. The possession of things can take over in a way that disconnects us from what is real in life and can separate us from our inner connection with that which is greater than us - from what I call God but for which others have different names. After all the root of all evil is not money but rather the love of money.
In the past five years I have been feeling this inner nudge to dig my way out from the papers and other possessions that have taken over my time and concentration: they have been controlling me rather than I them. As I slowly emerge from the piles of papers that have grown in my office and taken a toll on my mental space, I find that there is now a driving force towards simplifying my life. I am aware that I need to find time to think, time to contemplate and time to have a leisured opportunity to reconnect with my understandings `of life, the universe and everything' - to paraphrase the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Simplicity made easy has helped me to understand that this need is a `normal' and essentially healthy one. I have already been trying to operate on the maxim given by William Morris: `Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.'
Working to this standard allows me to keep the computer and also the things that I find beautiful, whether it is a nicely shaped jug, a warm hand-woven blanket made by a friend - or even the drawing by my young grandchild that I find beautiful but that others might consider clutter. However, the essence is that the things I have around me need to feed my soul and not possess me.
As Jennifer says at the end of chapter eight: `If we take a long look at what is really necessary in our lives, we will more easily find a balance in the reality of our material world. We will ensure that what we gain from scientific advances is not encountered by a loss of connection with each other and with the rest of creation.' --The Friend, 3 March 2011
About the Author
Jennifer Kavanagh gave up her career as a literary agent to work in the community. She is a microcredit practitioner, facilitates conflict resolution workshops and is active in the Quaker community. She has written four books.
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Top Customer Reviews
So all in all, a well-written, thoughtful book, not padded out with redundant material, just the essentials, and an utter bargain at this price. I highly recommend it.