By K. Taylor, Aurora ON. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to simplify life. Not just the obvious stuff. Not just the: get a maid, chef and personal shopper approach. But really break down to what actually matters and toss the rest out to the curb on Thursday morning.
I can’t think of anything that smacks more of middle class living than this need to simplify. Gone are the worries of previous generations (or current generations born to lesser circumstances.) No more do we fret over feeding our kids, now it’s which skating programme will give her the best edge. No longer do most of us have an heir and a spare, then a half dozen others to see us through our old age, now we just want to make sure there’s enough in the bank (or at least borrow-able from the bank) to see the world. We have it pretty cushy.
Only there’s a movement started, upon whose bandwagon I have clambered aboard. It’s quite simply a move back to basics. Now this isn’t any Back to Amish lifestyle choice, though that would be fine if it worked for you. And it’s not a hankering back to the good ol’ days. I’m pretty sure we’ve got the good ol’ days right here; they had smallpox, we’ve got air conditioning. I know which side my bread is organically buttered.
But we were built as a species to strive for more. She who had the flashiest cave and caught the biggest mammoth fed and protected her family through the winter. The others watched their drool turn to icicles before their eyes. Only at some point our striving took a detour, and while Mrs. Jones may have busied herself with scrounging up an old sabre-tooth bone for the neighbour’s dog and nudging everyone in tighter so there’s room; now we’re frankly rather preoccupied with what’s in the mirror. Just watch the TV, check out internet ads (or don’t.) They’re almost all appealing to the cult of me. I need a luxurious car, a cleaner house, and apparently plumper eyelashes. Who could ever have time to better the world, or even just appreciate it when our bathrooms are scummy and our eyes embarrassingly un-smoky.
Aurora is a lovely town. It’s lush and leafy; loaded with gorgeous century homes, and parklands. And as I’ve said before, it’s choc full of character. But there’s also a lot of conspicuous consumption; the soul killing kind if you buy in. There are a whole lot of Jones’ out there, peeking over their shoulders to see if you’re even bothering to keep up. And for me at least, I just can’t be bothered to bother.
So I have done you the favour of compiling all the information I have thus far collected on how to find zen-like simplicity in a world gone mad. Where did I find all these pearls of wisdom? Why, the internet of course.
- Get rid of the stuff. Duh, right? This is not a de-clutter project but more of a searching for your soul at the back of the wardrobe. This is only keeping the things that sing to you; the clothes that make you look and feel alive. I once worked with a woman who always looked fabulous. A co-worker asked how she managed on our salary. She replied she only had a few good pieces, kept them all in the same green and brown palette that flattered her copper hair and pretty much wore the same things over and over. Style over substance. Of course at this point it would help if I pointed out I have neither.
- Accept that you don’t have style, or substance. Well maybe you do, maybe you have both. I think we all realise that style and fashion are not one and the same. Stop looking for the most fashionable car, or clothes. Definitely stop fretting over the stucco ceilings in your bedroom that are (apparently) such a no-no. Your house is a home, it is lovely. Just as it is. So are you. Accept that and your style will shine through. Full disclosure: I’m still struggling with this one.
- Tune out. This was tough. I have heard it millions of times, turn off the TV. For those of you who are social media junkies, turn it off. The problem is, you cannot appreciate the difference this will make in your life until you do it. Go for it, if nothing else at least you will no longer be tormented by images of bacon-swiss-double-cheeseburgers before bed. This alone is sweet release from a torture you never even knew you endured.
- Eat good food. You’ve heard ad naseam about healthy eating, pyramids, food groups blah blah blah. I’ve summed it up for myself to eating good food. Fry yourself a fresh farm egg, I mean Fresh Farm Egg. Watch as you break the yolk, orange as the sunset, and it gently oozes over the plate. Feel the burst of a fresh, ripe, local peach on your tongue. Repeat. It won’t be long before that bacon-swiss-double-thingamajig doesn’t really sound that appetizing after all.
- Say no. To friends, to kids, to yourself. You don’t need that new ____ (fill in the blank.) Truly, you don’t. And I’m pretty sure your child will grow up just fine without those karate lessons. The ones that overlap with your daughter‘s dance class. The ones that caused so much sleep loss as you juggled schedules. And your friend will forgive you for missing the barbecue, just tell her how tired you are after planning for karate. Then snuggle down with your other half and a bottle of red and watch the sunset. Or rise. Your choice.
- Ok, this is my favourite, I confess. And we are so very, very fortunate in this town. Once we free ourselves from the time spent maintaining our perfect lives. Once we turn off the television, log out of Facebook and ditch the pilates class, then we have time to truly enjoy Aurora’s finest gifts. This town is loaded with green spaces, get out and forest bathe, baby.
As I type, there are 6 ten-year-old boys in my basement, playing We Will Rock You on the drums. So if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll make myself a tea, grab a good book and stop fretting over the chipped kitchen counter, the grimy floor and my stained jeans. After all, they’re all perfect, just the way they are.