So after travelling for ten weeks as a family I feel life can and probably should be simpler, now we consciously need to put the effort in to working on it. That probably seems very obvious.
A simple life while travelling was easy – decisions driven by food and curiosity in the places we stayed. These were conscious decisions we made together to keep it simple – but the context helped!
We have been back home for almost 3 months and I can already feel things getting complicated again. This was expected; we are back at work and trying to start a second company; and our son has started at school and we are all still adjusting to this.
I mentioned the Simple Living Manifesto blog entry by Leo Babauta a couple of times already and that a list with 72 entries could be a bit daunting. I have found it to be useful list as many of the items overlap into themes and choosing one over the other may be easier for you to make a start on. It has been a good point to develop a personal template for simplicity. The three themes I chose to try changes in relate to “clutter”, “time commitments” and “being present”.
Clutter – it’s a pretty broad topic this one. Digital clutter, personal clutter, cluttered time – I can go on. Before travelling I took a lot of personal stuff to the Salvation Army. When we got back I took some more! I also unsubscribed to a large number of email lists and changed my obsessive news reading habits (mostly). The interesting thing is I don’t feel I am missing anything, either physical or digitally. I think the time away makes it easier to do this editing. Maybe that is the lesson for me, take some time away and look at it with fresh eyes later and then decide – but don’t procrastinate. Like so many things in life that is probably true. I will say it makes choices easier too as you have edited out the noise already.
Time commitments and saying “no”- this was so easy while travelling and so hard when you are at home. I feel we are still better than before starting this conversation around simplicity. We do say no now, not because we don’t want to do everything, but because we also know what happens if we do! This is not advocating a boring life – just do the things you want to do. The more I get to do the things I really want to do, the less grumpy I am.
Being present and Unplug – for most people this relates to our devices. And it can be bad out there. While spending time in some of the most incredible places on our planet I watched how little some people interacted with the place and rather with the device. It was weird. I love the idea of being able to connect but realised how little you see while doing this. While travelling we actively chose to use our phones as little as possible and it was great. I think we need to start thinking more about self-regulation.
As a parent I like this article about you, your phone and your child. This article is also interesting and worth the time to read. I am still actively working on “being present” and have found that my phone now gets used more as a camera than a communication device – about 9000+ photos last time I checked.
What I have accepted is that we will always be busy and there are things that will derail my efforts at simplicity. These need to be kept in context and consciously accepted or rejected. Work is important to us as we are doing things we want to do and believe in. It keeps us busy. But we are trying harder now to keep it manageable and in check.
In reality, the most important thing at the moment is us, as a family, adjusting to a new rhythm because of school life. I have realised now how fortunate we as a family are as we work for ourselves and can be flexible and keep it relatively simple for the time being. I am sure that will change sometime soon, but we can deal with that when it happens.
In doing all this am I happier? Yes I would say I am. Do I think we could do more? Absolutely. We are going travelling again for two months at the end of this year.